Only 0.1% of Ireland’s population understands sign language.
Now a student at Cork’s Ashton Secondary School in Ballintemple has created a user-friendly app that anyone can download and use to learn the basics.
Ugonna Duru’s ‘Lamhalingo’ app, which will be available in the App Store soon, provides an archive of different signs for Irish sign language, arranged into simple categories including the alphabet, colours, and greetings.
With around 5,000 Deaf sign language users in Ireland, Ugonna (16) hopes the ‘Lamhalingo’ app will give students and teachers a way to learn Irish sign language (ISL) in school, specifically as a new module in Transition Year.
According to Deaf Village Ireland, it is estimated that for every one Deaf person there are nine hearing people who use ISL in their everyday lives – that means there are around 45,000 people in the Deaf community, made up of Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing families, friends of the Deaf and those working with the community.
Ugonna’s project was supported by Teen-Turn Ireland, a Hays Recruitment initiative that aims to provide teenage girls with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the area of STEM, linking them with some of Ireland’s most innovative companies.
“With the support of Teen-Turn, I developed a passion for science and technology. I used my new skills to improve awareness of Ireland’s deaf community,” said Ugonna, whose mentors taught her how to block-code as well as how to present to the judges.
“During my time with Teen-Turn, I came to appreciate the different career choices in the area of STEM. I also learned how to persevere, and I put this to use while developing my app to teach Irish sign language, ‘Lamhalingo’.”