Irish Sign Language is the first and/or preferred language of 5000 Deaf people in Ireland and approximately 40,000 people in general will communicate in ISL (family, friends, co-workers, etc).
Irish Sign Language is the indigenous language of the Deaf community and research shows that sign languages are full languages with its own complex linguistic structure, rules and features. It is a visual and spatial language with its own distinct grammar and not only is it a language of the hands, but also of the face and body.
Irish Sign Language has no official status in Irish legislation and this is a vital aim of the Irish Deaf Society to get recognition and upholds the status of ISL in Ireland particularly in education where its acquisition as a first language for Deaf children is so vital.
Irish Sign Language is recognised in Northern Ireland but not in the Republic of Ireland
Irish Sign Language is different from all other sign languages such as British Sign Language, American Sign Language etc.
Ireland is unique in that we have gender sign language, i.e. Men and Women in Ireland have different sign languages due to being educated in separate schools.
The Deaf community sees itself as a linguistic and cultural minority group as opposed to being disabled.