Mobile site to boost sign language resources

WebElevate helps build mobile resource aimed at helping parents to learn sign language

A new mobile website aimed at teaching Irish Sign Language (ISL) has been developed as part of a programme aiming to teach digital skills.

ISL Everywhere is designed to help children expand their vocabulary and improve their communication skills.

The free site is optimised for smartphones, allowing parents to easily gain access to the words they need to carry out everyday tasks with their children. It includes more than 1,000 signs and phrases that concentrate on the everyday vocabulary used by young children and in daily routines such as bedtime, visits to the doctor and special occasions including birthdays and Christmas.

The resource was the brainchild of the Sharing the Journey volunteer organisation, an independent parent-to-parent group that was set up to support parents of deaf and hard of hearing children, in collaboration with the Irish Deaf Society and the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin.


Fantastic support
WebElevate, a digital technology, content and game development programme for graduate jobseekers, became involved when Sharing the Journey was looking for help in developing the resource.

Co-founder of the support group Teresa McDonnell said the website would expand opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing children to become more involved with the world around them.

“For most families their deaf baby is the first deaf person that they have ever met. Learning ISL can be challenging not only for parents, but for siblings and relatives as well,” said Ms McDonnell.

“ISL Everywhere will be a fantastic support for everyone learning ISL. Families, neighbours, pre-school teachers and other significant people in a child’s life can now access good quality, accurate signs when and where they need them.”

WebElevate is run by the Digital Skills Academy, and is part of the HEA Springboard adult education programme.

Based in the Digital Hub in Dublin, the programme has signed up more than 50 partner companies as participants apply their skills to real-world projects for clients.

Huge interest
Those who graduate receive a level eight professional diploma from DIT, and get support from the programme in securing employment.

The programme, which runs for 12 months, has already completed two runs; the third run started in October last year and a fourth is due to begin next month.

Chief executive of the Digital Skills Academy Paul Dunne said there has been huge interest in the programme.

“It does seem to strike a chord with people. We’re looking at it in a broad way – it’s ICT, but it’s also business and creative digital,” he said. “For the intake last October, there were 1,100 people competing for 200 places.”

More than 50 per cent of those who took part in the first intake in the project have gone on to work in the industry, and 11 per cent have gone on to take up internships.

Mr Dunne said the remainder have either returned to further education or are still seeking employment.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist