IDS Press Release – National Irish Sign Language Day

11th December 2018

The Deaf Community celebrates the importance of Ireland’s third official language

The Deaf community is celebrating the first anniversary of the Irish Sign Language Act (ISL) on 14th of December. One year on since the introduction of the Act, the Irish Deaf Society is marking the day as the first annual National Irish Sign Language Day.

Following more than 30 years campaigning, this State recognition of rights was hugely important and a cause for celebration. We are now one year on and celebrating the Act’s first anniversary. It is still a time to celebrate but also a time to reflect on what impact the introduction of the Act has had.

Since the introduction of the Act members of the Deaf community have shared stories of goodwill gestures from the public at large. Yet there is some way to go before Deaf people can communicate effectively with commercial organisations and State services.

The Irish Deaf Society is preparing a strategy to see the Act implemented in a meaningful and sustainable way. We are preparing communications to go to State-bodies that are mandated to observe the Act and commercial organisations that are interested in how they can play their part.

We are asking our community, members, supporters and affiliate organisations to contribute to a database recording their experiences and hope to use this information to help us understand how to measure implementation of the Act until we can put a more formal process in place.

We would like to express our gratitude to all organisations that have made changes to the way they deliver services to the Deaf Community in the spirit of the Act. We are committed to encouraging and supporting those that are on that journey.

One year on, none of the sections of the ISL Act have been implemented, however a great deal of work has gone into developing the “voucher system”. While the Minister committed to funding being made available for the scheme in 2018, this funding has yet to be released, and we call on Minister McGrath to release the funds as we celebrate the first anniversary of the legislation passing through the Dáil on 14th, December 2017.

“While we celebrate the ISL Act our work is only beginning. We will campaign for Government to realise commitments that have been made and to eliminate language and community barriers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Our responsibility is to ensure our community is valued and respected in Irish society and can fully take part in Irish life. We look forward to developing close relationships with organisations throughout Ireland to provide Irish Sign Language in their services and live up to their responsibilities detailed in the Act.”  – John Sherwin, CEO

The 14th December will be a celebration in our community, a reminder of a great achievement and the work that lies ahead to fully implement the Act. We will work tirelessly to ensure our linguistic and cultural rights are given and protected. Join us in our mission and celebrate the 14th!