39th IDS AGM reporting on our activities in 2020
Thursday June 10th 2021 at 7pm
Download the AGM 2021 Agenda
Download the minutes from the 2020 AGM
The series of vlogs below contains the Chairpersons Address, CEO Report and Managers reports and Audited Accounts.
IDS Annual Report 2020 Chairpersons Address
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Dear Members, 2020 was a roller-coaster year for all of us and now we are into the second year of Covid 19, a global pandemic. In March 2020, the world had changed for everyone and IDS has worked very hard to continue services remotely and to provide ISL information for the Deaf community. We campaigned hard to ensure ISL interpreters were included on television briefings for emergency announcements and to make sure our community had access to information about COVID-19. I would like to thank all staff and volunteers for their hard work during the pandemic.
Despite Covid-19 IDS carried on with our work for the Deaf community and it was a very busy year. On February 24th 2020, history was made in Leinster House at the offices of the Seanad Returning Officer. Dr. John Bosco Conama, was nominated to the Seanad by both the Irish Deaf Society and Chime. Although he was not elected to the Seanad he polled well as a first time candidate. We hope he provided a positive example for other Deaf people interested in politics and representation.
Over the summer 2020, the IDS board and CEO worked very hard to develop a new IDS constitution. Our older 2004 constitution needed to be updated to remove inconsistencies and to meet the requirements the 2014 Companies Act. I am delighted that the new IDS constitution has now been approved by the members of IDS at EGM in March 2021. I would like to thank all Board, CEO and the ISL translation team for hard work on this new constitution. This was the most complicated legal document that has ever been translated into ISL and can be seen on the IDS website.
The launch of Deaf interpreter programme for 24 Deaf students for a year was a historic moment for the Deaf community in September 2020. Later this year, Autumn 2021, the students will graduate as Deaf Interpreters. The program was jointly funded by SLIS and CIB, in conjunction with the Centre for Deaf Studies.
During 2020 the IDS board co-opted Carol Brown and Lydia Mendes as a Director and appointed David Muldowney as a non-director Company Secretary. At our AGM in November 2020 our members elected Carol Brown, Sofiya Kalinova and Lydia Mendes as board directors.
In late November 2020 we hosted our first ever online AGM using the Zoom video conferencing platform. This was a complex IT event with a range of voting and non-voting members, hearing and Deaf, interpreters, Q&A from our audience, voting in Zoom and a live stream on Facebook for observers. The event was successful and a learning experience for us all.
In 2020 IDS were founding members of a new coalition of disabled persons organisations called the “DPO coalition.” Our goal was to write a Shadow Report for the UNCRPD and this work has been going really well between 2020 and 2021.
For the first time again via online EUD GA and I attended representing IDS. The event was a success. On 15th December 2020, the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbite TD, addressed the Seanad and announced the full commencement of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017. One of the first changes as part of implementing the Act was the establishment of a new register of Irish Sign Language Interpreters by SLIS.
Thank you to all of our board, staff, volunteers, IDS members of the Deaf community for your hard work in keeping IDS strong and steady for 40 years! We hope that IDS will continue to work for the community for another 40 years!
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2020 started positively, we had managed to get through a financial crisis in 2019, the disruption caused by a fire in DVI the previous September and we were getting to grips with the challenges of transforming the organisation. From the start of the year the growing news about Covid-19 was starting to be a cause of concern, by the time we got to March 11th we were forced to closed our offices and all staff and activities were online and remote.
We were reasonably well prepared for this because we had a short time working remotely late in 2019 after a fire in the DVI boiler house had cut the supply of water, internet and phones to our offices. In the end, this was a very useful and practical test run for our transition to remote working which continues to the time of writing over a year later.
As an organisation we have gotten used to change and all of our staff embraced this challenge. You will read in our report from Advocacy and Further Education and Training Departments how we changed our services and work practices to make sure we could continue working with the Deaf community remotely.
Our fundraising income stopped with both of our shops closing in March and it was not possible in 2020 to run our usual Raffle. However, strong support from the Government for not-for-profit community organisations helped us to manage our finances and ensured that we did not need to reduce our staff.
We developed contingency plans to ensure we could manage the organisation carefully, we transformed our adult courses and ISL courses to be delivered online and our Advocacy team worked with the community, service providers and the HSE to ensure critical information was translated into ISL.
We launched a dedicated section of our website for information vlogs about Covid-19 and engaged with many organisations over the year to improve awareness of the communication and language barriers faced by Deaf people during the pandemic.
After sustained campaigning by IDS, Chime, CISLI, SLIS and other Deaf community organisations we successfully convinced the HSE to provide interpreters for public health announcements, to pay for translations key documents into ISL and to allow all Deaf people access to interpreters without charge for medical appointments including Covid-19 testing during the pandemic. IDS and Chime worked together to develop guidelines for the HSE.
I would like to thank all of our staff, teachers, tutors and partners in the Deaf community for the incredible effort they all went to in 2020. Not only did we find ways to continue service, but we saw new directions open up that will help us to reach more people in the future.
Advocacy Department report
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In 2020 the Advocacy Department had to adapt the way we work to meet the challenges of Covid-19. Normally, we meet clients and members of the Deaf community in person in DVI every day, but with Covid-19 restrictions we had to adapt and provide our services online, ensuring that our service was still as effective and accessible as it has always been.
This was a big change but we settled into working remotely and 2020 was very busy carrying out a variety of projects, assisting clients and representing the Deaf community.
Covid-19 Working Group: The Advocacy Manager is a member of the Covid-19 working group which is a partnership between the Irish Deaf Society (IDS), the Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters (CISLI) and the Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) who joined together for the specific purpose of supporting the Deaf Community in gaining better access and understanding information presented in ISL relating to Covid-19 as well as supporting ISL interpreters with new vocabulary for important terms in the pandemic.
Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE): We attended quarterly meetings to discuss the quality of TV access, BAI Access Rules, Platforms, Irish Text Relay Service (ITRS) and accessibility for people with disabilities in public service buildings.
SLIS Representative Group: We are involved in the group to provide feedback from a Deaf perspective to SLIS about their services. Discussions included the impact of Covid-19 on SLIS services, the register of Interpreters and the voucher scheme.
Women with Disabilities Working Group: National Women Council of Ireland invited IDS to join the Women with Disabilities working group. Two representatives from National Deaf Women of Ireland are also in the working group. We discussed the UN CRPD Shadow Report, NWCI Pre Budget Submission Consultation and created a communication project which had visual and audio content capturing some of the experiences of disabled women which are to be used in advocacy and campaigning work.
Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters: We are involved in the representative group for CISLI covering topics such as Covid-19 safety for interpreters and clients, interpreters training, employment and other issues.
National Council Members: We reconnected with National Council Members (NCMs) in 2020 including registered and non-registered Deaf organisations. We co-operated successfully with them to distribute the Face visors that were donated to us at the start of the pandemic.
Criminal Justice Submission: IDS made a written submission to contribute to the development of a Strategy for the Criminal Justice System by Department of Justice and Equality.
Action 16 Plan by Department of public expenditure and reform: This was a feedback meeting on a set of resources developed by the Department of Public Expenditure which aim to support public service employers to promote inclusion and enhance staff diversity. We were involved to represent the Deaf community and give feedback on deaf issues.
Access to Work Campaign: This group is campaigning for employment supports for Deaf Community. The Department of Social Protection (Regina Doherty) announced €5 million in funding. The group arranged to meet Minister Joe O’Brien and Minister O’Gorman and others to clarify if funding there or not.
Real Productive Justice researched by NUIG: We were involved in the campaign to look at the experiences people have as parents. We were delighted that many Deaf participants were willing to do interviews about their experiences.
IRIS Meeting: IRIS developed the DJANAH App. IDS were involved in the group to organise a trial of the DJANAH app with 75 participants. There has been positive feedback from the Deaf community and concerns such as GDPR are being looked at.
General Election 2020: In the weeks approaching the election, we reached out to candidates from the Dublin 7 area to interview them and see what they can do for members of the Deaf community. We filmed a series of interviews and shared them on our social media platforms.
Self-Harm Conference by St Patrick’s Mental Health & Pieta House: Advocacy staff attended a full day conference in which a variety of professionals explained how to prevent situations of self-harm and how to cope living with different issues. We raised the issue that there is no accessible service for Deaf people.
Census 2021: IDS enquired with CSO about inclusive questioning for the Deaf community in Census 2021 however, the questions for 2021 were confirmed and not possible to change.
ISL Awareness Week: The Advocacy Team worked with the Chairperson to create a series of interviews to celebrate ISL Awareness Week in 2020. We received very positive feedback from the Deaf community.
EUD Webinar: As part of an EUD mini-series on different themes the IDS Advocacy Manager gave a presentation “Approved Communication Supports for Deaf patients in Healthcare setting during COVID 19” through International Sign Language under one of their daily themes: “Accessibility in Hospital”.
National Disability Authority Conference: The conference focused on the effective and equal participation of persons with disabilities in the Irish Criminal Justice System (Article 13 UNCRPD). It provided an opportunity to share valuable Irish and international experience and good practice and to learn from other countries who have explored different approaches to the implementation of Article 13, including effective collaboration across all relevant departments and agencies.
Silence + Voice – Speak Up Speak Out Seminar: This event was organised as part of the 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women. The panel discussed issues pertaining to feminism in Ireland, leadership, representation, human rights and how their past and current experiences create opportunities for an inclusive movement of women into the future.
ISL Story Sign Project: We received funding from EUD and Huawei to film four Children’s Stories videos. We chose the theme of Irish Myths and Legends. The four videos were launched early summer 2020 and were a great success. The funding received from EUD also allowed us to provide ISL classes to parents of Deaf children.
St. Stephen’s Green Trust (SSGT) – An Introduction to ISL Linguistics Project. We received funding from SSGT to provide classes in ISL Linguistics. We offered these classes to professionals working with the Deaf community. We also were able to offer these classes to the Deaf community and they took place via Zoom in June 2020.
Campaign for Access to Mental Health Services: We recognised the need to better access to services for Deaf people. Our concern was that when we reached out to mental health service providers to meet and discuss the access, we were often told they wouldn’t cover the cost of the Interpreter for our meeting.
We received funding from Dublin North West Area Partnership (DNWAP) to cover the cost of interpreters for meetings with a range of mental health service providers to discuss access. We are concerned that many gave us feedback that their funding will not cover the cost of interpreters for Deaf people to have access to their services. We plan to carry on this campaign and establish a working group to campaign for access.
CIDP Advocacy Support Service (ASS): We entered into an agreement with CIDP in which we would be able to provide our Advocacy Service to residents in St Joseph’s House and the Deaf boarders. Due to lockdown and school closures, access to the boarders was limited. We had time set aside weekly in which the residents/boarders could contact us via Zoom if they require our assistance/support. Through this agreement, we support residents in transitioning from SJH to their new homes.
Huawei phones: We received a donation of 40 mobile phones from Huawei and worked with the Deaf Covid-19 Road Runners group to give away 31 phones to people in the Deaf community. It was a challenging task many had never used smart phones before and needed a lot of support to learn how to use them.
Deaf Awareness Training: Although our Deaf Awareness Training reduced in 2020 due to Covid-19 we did provide training to 3 separate groups of Transition year students. These sessions were all very successful with the students giving feedback that they learned a lot and enjoyed the training. We also presented Deaf Awareness Training to businesses and organisations and received great feedback from all attendees. The Advocacy manager presented a lecture to students in the Centre for Deaf Studies, TCD, on the Advocacy service and mental health issues within the Deaf Community.
– Report prepared by Elaine Grehan, Advocacy Department Manager
Further Education and Training Department Report
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In 2020 we continued our work to merge Irish Sign Language Academy and Deaf Adult Literacy Services (DALS) into on Further Education and Training (FET) Department. Covid-19 restrictions caused major interruptions to our courses. Staff worked from home and we had to stop all face-to-face classroom courses in March 2020. We made changes to our teaching, learning and assessments, with emergency measures to enable learners, where feasible, to complete their courses.
We had no choice but to move all of our courses to digital platforms. This shift in use of technology brought some amazing changes but it also highlighted issues of inequality – some learners did not have suitable equipment, IT skills or good enough broadband to learn online.
We were determined to build an inclusive education for our learners by providing advice, IT tutorials, or individual learners supports. Our staff and trainers made remarkable efforts to keep learners engaged.
We could see that while the trainers and learners really value the face-to-face classroom experience, they also recognised the flexibility and accessibility that online courses can provide. Developing a blended approach to teaching, both online and in classroom, will be an on-going priority for FET as will the need for further support, guidance and care for staff, trainers and learners for 2020/2021 programmes.
In 2020 we received a lot of support and flexibility from SOLAS, our funders on behalf of the Department of Education. They approved an increase of 30% in our funding to a total of €452,000 supporting our plans to transform our educational and training services for the Deaf community.
Solas also recognised the need for their support of our ISL courses to the hearing community and how our agendas align to improve social inclusion and success to lifelong learning and employment opportunities.
Since we started our education services, we have provided education for over 3000 individuals who have been unable to access further education in Ireland. We are committed to delivering quality learning experience via Irish Sign Language and to make education accessible for the Deaf community.
Deaf Adult Courses (DAC): Many learners took more than one course, each time a student takes a new course they are counted as a beneficiary. So, one student can be a beneficiary several times. In 2020 there were 416 beneficiaries completing IDS courses. 64 of those beneficiaries completed QQI level 3 or 4 awards. We continued working in conjunction with Cabra Community College providing Health Care courses for Deaf learners and over 80% have obtained employment in the Health Care sector.
ISL Courses (ISL): In 2020 we delivered ISL programmes nationwide where 223 learners were assessed and awarded for QQI Level 3 and 56 learners assessed and awarded for QQI Level 4 in ISL and a further 99 learners attending to our non-accredited ISL courses.
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As we re-engage with QQI on standards we have an increasing focus on Quality Assurance (QA) to place it at the centre of all our educational and training programmes. This is a large project that involves reviewing all of our processes, our learners’ experiences and the learning outcomes. Our aim is to deliver education that gives our learners a better opportunity for employment and further education and training programmes.
Our work on governance, management of quality assurance and the effectiveness of our further education are all part of project to meet new QQI requirements and guidelines so that IDS can continue to develop accredited course and award certificates.
COVID-19 has shifted our focus from classroom-based learning to digital, a transformation that has changed our pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning. 2020 has been a catalyst for IDS to develop Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) approaches to the provision of education. We must adapt and transform the way IDS offer quality learning in an online and blended format which future learners will expect.
Representation & ISL translations
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Educational Partnership Group: FET collaborates with other organisations that support our educational and training initiatives for Deaf people and being a member of the Educational Partnership Group (EPG) provides an opportunity for IDS to continue to support and provide commentary to influence and develop provision and delivery of Deaf Education by National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Department of Education & Skills.
Dublin City University: Dublin City University continued on their third phase of the ISL Biology Glossary, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, it’s the follows on from the first phase, Maths, second phase Environmental and Geography both already launched. The IDS represent and contribute to the multidisciplinary team where we liaise between the project and the Deaf community. Due to COVID-19 pandemic there’s been a delay of the launch hopefully be launch by the end of the summer. This comprehensive ISL glossary is provide to support education for Deaf learners at primary and post-primary school, their parents and their teachers.
RTÉ and Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE): IDS attended meetings in 2020 with RTE and DCCAE and discussed issues including the removal of registration by Deaf viewers for access to all ISL programmes on the RTE Player, the BAI Access Rules targets on subtitling and ISL its monitoring and quality control also discussion on quality access to ISL information on the State websites.
ISL Translation Services: We continue to offer ISL translation services to corporate organisations and public bodies and as we have seen an increase in demand for this service, especially during the COVID-19 period, we expect this trend to continue in years to come. We have plans to develop a production team to enhance this service.
– Report prepared by Brian Crean, FET Course Manager and Tracey Treanor, Quality Assurance Manager
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2020 saw the arrival of COVID 19 and with that brought huge Financial and Operational challenges for the Irish Deaf Society. Our ability to fundraise was impacted enormously like most not-for-profit community organisation’s across the Country. Our Charity shops were closed for approximately 4 months of 2020, we had to suspend our bi-annual raffles, and all fundraising activities were put on hold.
However even though we saw many negatives as a result of Covid 19, we did see some positives during the year. With the support of Government, we were successful in receiving additional income from the Stability Scheme fund amounting to €114,398 and from the SOLAS Covid 19 fund amounting to €26,500. This money was used specifically towards our running costs for 2020 and to update our education technology. Not only that, we were also able to claim supports for those staff salaries not already funded by way of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) for the period of time that our fundraising activities were curtailed i.e. shop closures.
Financial & Operational Challenges of 2020 in more detail:
- The closure of our Charity Shops due to Covid 19 restrictions for 4 months of 2020. This resulted in a reduction in income totalling €106,415 or 42% on the previous year.
- The impact of Covid 19 on our Fundraising Activities saw an overall reduction in income totalling €69,032 or 23% on the previous year.
The overall reduction in our Fundraising/Trading income in 2020 compared to 2019 amounted to €175,447 or 31%.
- Even though our Income saw a decrease our running costs remained the same. IDS still had to pay costs such as Rent, Light & Heat and Service charges for the Offices and Shops with minimal reductions.
- The suspension of our bi annual raffles saw a reduction in income of €68,510 or 56% on the previous year.
- All office based staff had to move to working remotely. This meant that IDS had to ensure that staff had adequate facilities and equipment within their homes to ensure a continuity of work. In addition to that there was a duty of care by IDS for the Health and Safety of the individuals working space and environment to ensure they met with the requirements. All staff had to undergo Health & Safety Training for Working Remotely at the end of 2020.
However, IDS was able to overcome these challenges and to some respects the arrival of Covid 19 had worked in its favour. Examples of this are as follows:
- The visual presence of ISL Interpreters on our screens every day since the Pandemic began, on News bulletins and Government announcements, on Home School Hub and the Late Late Toy show has only highlighted the importance of ISL both to the general public and Government. This has resulted in the demand for Translation Services and the Income generated has more than trebled from the previous year. We have also seen an increased interest from the general public for ISL classes
- Even though our Fundraising/Trading income saw a reduction of 31% on the previous year we had the support of Government by way of the Stability Scheme fund - €114,398 and TWSS/EWSS scheme’s - €41726. These supports totalling €156,124 offset the majority of reduction in Fundraising/Trading income
- Bequests totalling €39,000 were received in 2020
Some other notes about differences between 2019 and 2020 in our accounts:
- Government funding increased by approximately 53% going from €447,044 in 2019 to €683,259 in 2020. However €116,500 of this has been deferred until 2021 as the impact of Covid 19 restricted our ability to utilise the funding
- Payroll Costs including Employer’s PRSI for 2019 were €583,649 and in 2020 they were €469,215, a reduction of 19.6%. This reduction was due to a number of factors – reduction in staff numbers, additional supports of Government by way of TWSS/EWSS schemes and the DAC Tutors went onto a contract basis. However you will see an increase in Contractors/Teachers fees for 2020 as opposed to 2019 due to change to contract basis
- As there was a reduction in Fundraising/Trading income this inevitably led to a reduction in Costs of approximately 70%
- We had no warehouse costs in 2020
- As there was an increase in Translation Income this in turn led to an increase in Translation costs in 2020 and this was mainly due to HSE Covid translations
As part of our accounts modernisation we continue to improve our systems and processes. We are continually working to improve how we output our reports so that they are presented in an easily readable format. The new accounting system implemented in 2019 is continually evolving in line with the changes within the IDS and we will be moving to an upgraded version in 2021.
Our work to improve how we manage our finances continued in 2020, this was very important as 2020 was a very unpredictable year. We continue to take a careful approach to our finances and work towards a more sustainable future. We are working on our internal policies and control procedures in line with the Charity Governance Code. We look to achieve long term direction, furthering the IDS’s objectives and purposes and ensuring that policies and activities achieve those objectives. Most importantly ensuring that the IDS is run in a way that is well governed, responsible and effective.
– Report prepared by Fiona Noone, Financial Controller
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European Union of the Deaf (EUD): COVID webinars: The EUD hosted several meetings to discover the level of services concerning the COVID-19 pandemic available for deaf and hard of hearing citizens in each country. Elaine Grehan gave her presentation on this matter. A book chapter she co-authored with Dr John Bosco Conama and John Sherwin CEO was drafted and submitted for publication. It appears that Ireland did reasonably well in this regard.
General Assembly – Zoom: The EUD hosted the General Assembly for 2020 via Zoom on 12th December, and Lianne Quigley, the Chairperson, attended the meeting.
World Federation of the Deaf (WFD)
2020 proved one of the quietest years for our involvement in the WFD. However, the WFD is busily preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. The WFD has hosted many exciting webinars on various issues.
Disabled Persons Organisation: In November 2019, IDS agreed to set up a provisional coalition including few disability-led organisations to prepare a shadow report for the UN Committee on the progress of the Convention of Rights for Persons with Disabilities. Ireland was expected to be examined by the UN commission sometime this year but is likely to be postponed for another year or two due to the pandemic. The State has published its draft report and is expected to finalise the report sometime this Autumn. The coalition was a necessary way to ensure that Ireland meets its obligations under the convention. The work is ongoing.
ISL Cross-Community Group: The Group has re-established itself and reviewed its Terms of Reference. It decided to focus on various issues critical to the ISL Act 2017. The Group has met on several occasions. The Group also noted that the Citizen Information Bureau had established its internal ISL unit to deal with the ISL Act 2017.
– Report prepared by John Bosco Conama, Board Director and Vice Chairperson
AGM 2021 - Proxy Form
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There are 3 ways that you can support IDS today:
No.1 - Make a Donation on www.deaf.ie
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