The Irish Deaf Society engages with Deaf people directly through our Advocacy service in relation to societal challenges including employment. There is little formal research available in relation to barriers to employment that the Deaf community faces and data is not segmented in the gathering of national statistics in the Census.

However, there is evidence that Deaf Irish Sign Language (ISL) signers are struggling in the labour markets. Two reference sources are DESIGNS report “Employment for Deaf Signers in Europe” and the television documentary “London Calling” by RTE and Mind the Gap productions.

London Calling


Conclusions from DESIGNS report include: “Some of the barriers we have reported in the literature relate to broader societal perceptions of deaf people, which impact on how a deaf job candidate is perceived, and which show up with respect to career guidance and employer assumptions. Others relate to systemic barriers, often in contexts where the system”

DESIGNS Erasmus+ European Project

The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015-2024 vision is that people with disabilities can get a job and enjoy a rewarding career. It is underpinned by these values:

  • People with disabilities are enabled to have jobs, earn a living and make a contribution.
  • People with disabilities are supported to maximise their potential.

The focus is on a person’s capacity not their incapacity Under UN CRPD article 27 “Work and employment” states that people with disabilities have the right to participate in a labour market and work environment that is “open inclusive and accessible”. That they are entitled to “equal opportunities” and that the state should “promote employment opportunities and career advancement”.

The Irish Deaf Society seeks to engage in projects and activities to address these barriers and challenges. The work described in this document is conducted as part of the “Deaf Careers Project” funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund via Pobal.

The overall goal of the project is to improve access to career pathways, create appropriate online resources for Deaf people, and support Guidance Counsellors offering services to Deaf people. Develop, deliver training and support participants via our Deaf Career Clubs.

Irish Deaf Society