Who we are what we do

The IDS is the only national Deaf-led representative organisation of the Deaf, and it serves the interests and welfare of the Deaf community. It provides a number of education, personal and social services to Deaf children, adults, and their families.

The Irish Deaf Society is recognised as a Disabled Peoples Organisation (DPO) under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). IDS are members of the World Federation of the Deaf and the European Union of the Deaf and have consulted with international Deaf representative bodies in relation to a number of societal issues that impact on Deaf people.

The Irish Deaf Society leads the ISL Act Cross Community Group, which is a group of National organisations and service providers working in the Deaf community. We consult with this group in relation to topics of interest to Deaf people including the ISL Act and the Census including this submission. This group includes the following members: Bridge Interpreting, Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) TCD, Chime, Council of ISL Interpreters of Ireland (CISLI), Council of ISL Teachers (CISLT), Greenbow LGBTQ+, Irish Deaf Research Network (IDRN), Irish Deaf Youth Association (IDYA), National Deaf Women of Ireland (NDWI), Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS).

There are no accurate statistics on the size of the Deaf community in Ireland, but it is estimated that 5,000 people communicate in Irish Sign Language (ISL) as their primary language together with a community of an estimated 40,000 including family, friends and those working in the Deaf community. The most recent data from the central statistics office show there are over 103,000 people who are deaf and hard of hearing in Ireland. However, not all communicate in ISL as their primary language, or many may not consider themselves to be part of the Deaf community. The IDS use the term Deaf to cover all Deaf people, regardless of the degree of hearing they have.

Mission Statement

The Irish Deaf Society seeks to achieve and promote the Equality and Rights of Deaf people in Ireland. On the grounds of the Irish Constitution and Human Rights and international legislation, the ambition of full access to citizenship and society is sought through the empowerment and mobilisation of the Deaf community. With an awareness of their identity and their rights as individuals, Deaf people in Ireland are enabled to celebrate their culture and continue to ensure the upholding of Irish Sign Language recognition and break down the barriers of discrimination.

The core values of the Irish Deaf Society are:

Irish Sign Language (ISL)

Deaf people have the right to use ISL as their primary language, enriched with Deaf culture, where linguistic oppression must be a thing of the past.

Human Rights

Deaf people have the right to live as equal citizens on par with hearing people. Discrimination, which is violation of their rights, is illegal.


Deaf children have the right to be educated in ISL in a bi-lingual environment and Deaf people have the right to full access to all third level institutions.

Social inclusion

The provision of qualified ISL interpreters must be utilised, which would enable Deaf people to independently access and participate within the public domain in society.

Equal opportunities

Deaf people have the right to equal employment opportunities on both a management and professional level.

Quality Living conditions

Deaf people have the right to equitable living standards as the rest of society, where nothing hinders their participation.


Families of Deaf children have the right to receive comprehensive Information with access to the Deaf Community, its culture and language.


Deaf people have the right to represent the Deaf Community on a local level.

Social and political partnership

The government and state agencies must involve Deaf people and Deaf-led organisations in the community, education, health, legal and social fields.

Irish Deaf Society