ISL Linguistics Videos Launch

 the 14th December 2017, the Irish Sign Language (ISL) Act was passed by the DáilThis was a momentous day as it followed years of hard work and campaigning by the Deaf community, led by the Irish Deaf Society and supported by Senator Mark Daly. We continued to campaign for all those years as the Deaf community were continually being marginalised by society and there was the constant risk of miscommunication, misinterpretation and misdiagnosis. There needed to be regulations in place to give access in Irish Sign Language and to ensure that the Deaf community were not being refused their right to an ISL interpreter. Despite the bill being rejected by 3 votes we persevered and finally were successful in 2017. President Michael D. Higgins signed the ISL Act into law on the 24th December 2017 – we will never forget that day. 

The Deaf community now mark National ISL Day every year on the 14th December. This year to mark National ISL Day the Irish Deaf Society (IDS) are delighted to launch our series of videos ‘An Introduction to ISL Linguistics’ produced in collaboration with the Centre for Deaf Studies. 

You can see the videos on the IDS Website and the CDS website! 

What happens next? 

The ISL Act is to be implemented over the next 3 years, starting in December 2020 and will be reviewed every 5 years. It is such an important Act for Deaf people living in Ireland as it provides for the recognition of Irish Sign Language, its use in legal proceedings and the provision of interpretation into Irish Sign Language by public bodies and to provide for related matters. It provides for regulations in the following areas: 

  1. Recognition of Irish Sign Language 
  2. Use of Irish Sign Language in legal proceedings 
  3. Educational supports for deaf children 
  4. Duty of Public Bodies 
  5. Engagement of verified competent Irish Sign Language Interpreters 
  6. Broadcasting principles 
  7. Support for access to events, services and activities for users of Irish Sign Language 

Link to view the full bill: 

There are 5,000 Deaf people who use Irish Sign Language living in Ireland and 40,000+ people use Irish Sign Language every day, including family, colleagues, friends and professionals working with Deaf people. Irish Sign Language is a beautiful, visual language which uses the whole body, including non-manual features expressed on the face! If you want to learn ISL you can get information about our classes by emailing The Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) in Trinity College Dublin offer qualifications in ISL Interpreting, Deaf Studies and ISL Teaching.  

Linguistics refer to the study of language. By looking at the Linguistics of Irish Sign Language, we can understand the structure, grammar and, syntax. This allows us to understand the history of ISL and why we use the signs that we now use every dayIt is so important that Deaf people understand their language to protect our language and identity. It is vital that we take pride in our language as we need to preserve our language, and therefore our culture and identity. Due to the stigmatisation of Deaf people by wider society, some Deaf people can feel the need to oppress or hide their Deaf identity but we need to see the Deaf community for the positive effect it can have on society and take pride in all aspects of the community!  

Using funding received from the St. Stephen’s Green Trust (SSGT), we worked with the Academics based in the CDS to produce the videos that are now available on both the IDS Website and the CDS Website. You will see different videos which give a brief explanation on a variety of relevant topics. The information is so interesting, there is loads of new information to be learned! We encourage you to watch the videos and share with your friends.  

We would like to express our gratitude to the CDS Staff; Teresa Lynch, Carmel Grehan, Pat Matthews and Lorraine Leeson for their cooperation on this project and to SSGT for making this project possible. 

Let’s celebrate National ISL day and our beautiful language together! I hope you enjoy our videos about linguistics. 

Happy ISL ! 



Irish Deaf Society