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First Animal Sign Book

Monday, 21 April 2008

Simply Signing are launching their "First Animal Sign Book" in association with Dublin Zoo on Saturday the 26th of April 2008.
It will be held at 11:00am in the Meerkat Restaurant in the Dublin Zoo.

This is the first children's board book in Irish Sign Language for Irish kids.

Sign Language can be used to empower children and give them a positive early start in communication.

Lorna McCormack is the owner and Managing Director of Simply Signing.
Simply Signing is an innovative service which introduces parents and hearing babies to the joy of communicating through Irish Sign Language

Their programmes also support Deaf children and children with special needs and their care givers.

Deafness and Irish Sign Language is a strong part of Lorna's family as she is hearing and her husband is Deaf.
When they became parents they understood the anxieties of parenthood and the importance of signing with their baby, due to the communication needs in their family.
They slowly started to introduce signing to Connor to aid his communication with his Father Geoff.
They built on Connors natural tendencies to communicate with pointing and gestures by using Sign Language for communicating basic needs.

It was because of this experience in her own family that Lorna tried to pass on these skills to other parents that she met through work who needed this support.
The reception that she got from parents convinced her that she could fill a social need in our communities, a need not confined solely to those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing but to all Children. 
She is fully convinced about the value of Irish Sign Language; it is part of Irish Society and as such is the 3rd most used language in the country.

She says that Irish Sign Language can be used to empower children and give them a positive early start in communication.

This is the first book in Ireland for all children depicting Irish Sign Language, it's colourful pictures and clear signs make this an ideal educational tool.

As well as learning a new language children also learn about the animals in Dublin Zoo.

How did the book come about?
One day while visiting the Zoo with my family I was signing the animals to my son. He was getting so much fun out of it that I suddenly had the idea "maybe we could make a book out of this". The idea floated around my head for the rest of the day. The next day I emailed Dublin Zoo and was contacted the educational department I told them briefly I had an idea for a book and our business and would they be willing to meet me. Since then they have been very encouraging and are fully supportive of the concept of an Animal Sign Series. 

And why did you feel the need to get the book produced?
This book was very important to get produced as it is offering all children the chance to be introduced to a new language and introduce signing for hearing children's literacy. This book also gives parents who have discovered that their children are Deaf the opportunity to learn child centred sign language in ISL and provide a language at a young age.  We felt the need to show the community that signing has many benefits and also we were concerned when parents were making up signs which are not language based. This way we create awareness of Irish Sign Language and encourage its use with all children.

Also did you know where to begin when making the book or was it a learning experience along the way?
I had a very precise knowledge of the way I wanted the book and initially contracted a designer for the book in which he created a template from my vision. We then decided to educate ourselves in publishing and design and continued the book ourselves. This is our second book our other book is "Golf with sign" supporting all Deaf golfer worldwide as it is in international sign language. Although we had learned a lot from the golf book the zoo book was also a learning curve but one we have enjoyed.

How did Dublin Zoo end up getting involved?
At the early idea stage I contacted Dublin zoo by email and described our business and book idea. With that we received a call from the education officer who was extremely interested in the idea. We described that the book would depict Irish Sign Language for all young children to boost literacy skills and introduce a new language. They were delighted to support the project as it would also be the first book to have the actual animals from Dublin zoo.

Dublin zoo staff have also received training in Irish Sign Language and also saw it as a chance to support the language. The zoo then provided us with all the animal photos, after quite a number of visits and months we now have a great relationship with the zoo and also a beautiful book which we are proud of.

And are there any future plans for more books?
Yes, this is the first book in the animal sign series, we will be taking each animal from the book and following a day in the life of the animal. This will not only be educating children in the animals in the zoo but also introducing relevant signs in Irish Sign Language for all children. They will also be a valuable education tool for Deaf children learning Irish Sign Language and children with special needs. Our books are for all children regardless of different abilities.

How important is a book like this for the advancement/publicising of signing for kids of all ages?
This book is a major breakthrough for all children in Ireland, it introduces the fun in signing with a child, empowers young babies, and boosts literacy skills.  With this book young children will be able to spell words i.e. their name before they can write. All the sign books that are available to children in Ireland are introducing American Sign Language or British Sign Language, now parents and children have a book introducing children to the indigenous sign language of Ireland.
This book promotes the positives of signing with babies and children and builds on babies natural gestures. It also encourages parents who have discovered that their babies are deaf / hard of hearing that signing is important to introduce children to language and communication and that signing is a beautiful gift of pre verbal communication.

Sign language can sometimes be seen as a Cinderella language but now we are changing that perception to provide families and professionals understand the benefits immediate and long term.