A Cork secondary school student has created her own app that aims to helps users to learn Irish sign language.
Ugonna Duru, a student at Ashton Secondary School, Ballintemple, hopes to help Ireland’s 5,000-strong deaf community with her app Lamhalingo, which provides an archive of different signs for Irish sign language.
The signs are arranged in a multitude of simple, easy-to-access categories including the alphabet, colours, and greetings.
Lamhalingo is a teacher-student learning service that specialises in ‘in-class’ learning with special tools that help teach Irish sign language, something the student says is vital for better awareness of Ireland’s deaf community.
Ugonna is a participant in Teen-Turn, a mentoring programme for female students supported by Hays Recruiting. The program strives to provide teen girls with the opportunity to gain STEM experience and helps them to prepare for third-level education.
The project has enabled people across Cork to gain experience in STEM and hosted the SciFest in December which saw participants exhibit and showcase their ideas.
Ugonna developed a prototype of the app before creating the functional Lamhalingo, and documented her progress in a blog.
Her reflections won her first place in the overall blogging competition at the SciFest event.
According to Ugonna, the fact that only 0.1% of Ireland’s population can use sign language means there are significant challenges in everyday life for the deaf community here.
With her app, she hopes to give students and teachers a way to learn Irish sign language in school, specifically as a new module in Transition Year. Raising awareness of the deaf community in Ireland and the challenges they face was also a key objective of Ugonna’s initiative.
Reflecting on her research, she said that with the support of Teen-Turn, she has developed a “passion for science and technology”.
“During my time with Teen-Turn, I came to appreciate the different career choices in the area of STEM,” she said.
“I also learned how to persevere, and I put this to use while developing my app.”