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 face and data is not segmented in the gathering of national statistics in the Census.

However there is evidence that Deaf Irish Sign Language (ISL) users 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. 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”

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”.

It is important to note that the lack of formal research and data segmentation in the gathering of national statistics in the Census makes it difficult to fully understand the extent of the barriers that the Deaf community faces in the labour market. This highlights the need for more research and data collection in this area. 

Irish Deaf Society