National Irish Sign Language (ISL) Day 2022

9th December 2022

Press Release

Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of National ISL Day on the 14th of December 2022.

On the 14th of December 2017, the Irish Sign Language (ISL) Act was passed by the Dáil. This date 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. The Act recognises Irish Sign Language (ISL) as the native language of Deaf people and as the language used by the Deaf community. The State have a responsibility to provide ISL access to ensure that Deaf people can participate in society.

To commemorate this milestone for Deaf people in Ireland, the Deaf community now celebrates National ISL Day every year on the 14th of December. This celebration is essential to the Deaf community and allows us to promote ISL and celebrate our achievements as we campaign for changes in law, policy, and attitudes in Ireland.

One visual way we mark these important dates is by using blue. We ask people to wear blue and state organisations to light up landmarks in blue for these occasions. For instance, Trinity College Dublin and Cork City Hall have committed to lighting up their buildings in blue on the evening of National ISL Day, and we hope many other buildings and landmarks will follow suit. Blue is the colour of the IDS and symbolises Sign Language and also represents how Deaf communities cherish their language. For more information on this topic – you can check out this link:

The ISL Act says that the State must report on the implementation of the Act. The National Disability Authority (NDA) worked with Deaf Community organisations and representatives to develop the first report which was completed in December 2021. However, one year after the report was finished, it remains unpublished with no clear justification for the delay. The report will show how the State has not met its obligations and the delay in publication is resulting in an unnecessary delay in making progress to address these shortcomings.

The ISL Act sets out responsibilities for public bodies to provide ISL interpretation for services. Article 9 describes an obligation for the State to provide a Voucher Scheme for Deaf ISL users to access free ISL/English interpreting for social, educational, and cultural events and services. Despite a pilot scheme running for this service for three months in 2021, there is still no sign of this scheme being implemented permanently with no explanation and limited consultation, completely at odds with the principles and the duty of the Government under the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Five years on from the passing of the ISL Act, it is disappointing to see so many elements of the Act not implemented and with no clear plan or consultation with the Deaf community about it.

The Irish Deaf Society is a Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) under UN CRPD and as such the State has a clear responsibility to ensure meaningful engagement in relation to the ISL Act and all services provided to Deaf people. We call on the Government to publish the ISL Act report on National ISL Day 14th December.

Full details of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 can be found at

The Irish Deaf Society is a national Deaf led, rights based, DPO (disabled persons’ organisation) and a member of the World Federation of the Deaf and the European Union of the Deaf.

IDS is the organising member of the ISL Act Cross Community Group which co-ordinates activities relating to the implementation of the Act with other National organisations.

Contact: John Sherwin CEO – 089 427 8663

Irish Deaf Society



Irish Deaf Society