Restriction lift date: 2022-09-30
The development of a core school-based Lámh vocabulary to facilitate effective communication between children with Down syndrome and their communication partners in the first year of mainstream primary school
University College Cork
Background: In Ireland, the entry-level key word sign (KWS) training for teachers and school staff is the Lámh Module 1 training course, which does not contain vocabulary specifically chosen to support school-age Lámh users. However, if KWS is to be used successfully by children with Down syndrome (DS) in a mainstream school environment, it is essential that communication partners have access to a meaningful, contextually appropriate sign vocabulary. Aim: To identify the Lámh vocabulary needs of children with DS and their communication partners over the course of the first year of mainstream primary school, with the aim of developing a core school-based Lámh vocabulary. Method: Five key groups contributed signs to the core vocabulary: participants with DS in junior infants (n=6), their teachers (n=5), special needs assistants (n=8), and peers (n=9), and the researcher (a Speech and Language Therapist). The researcher contributed signs based on observations of the classroom, the participants with DS contributed signs during guided tours of the school environment, and the teachers, SNAs and peers contributed signs by means of structured interviews. This data collection took place at four time points over the school year. Signs were considered to be part of the core vocabulary if they were contributed five times or more over the course of the year, and by three or more of the groups. Results: The core school-based Lámh vocabulary contained 140 words, including 132 Lámh signs and eight words that do not currently have a Lámh sign. Only 55 (39%) of the 140 signs recommended as core vocabulary for schools are part of the training currently most commonly accessed by school staff. The remaining 77 signs (55%) are part of more advanced training. Conclusion: The current study provides new insights into the complex process of vocabulary selection for children who use Lámh in a mainstream school environment. In addition, it highlights the importance of access to a functional sign vocabulary in facilitating an inclusive approach to education, and enhanced communicative practice by all of those engaging with children with DS in mainstream primary school.
Key word signing , Lámh , Core vocabulary , Inclusive education
Lyons, C. 2021. The development of a core school-based Lámh vocabulary to facilitate effective communication between children with Down syndrome and their communication partners in the first year of mainstream primary school. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.