Press Release: ISL Week 2017

15th September 2017

Press Release

 ‘Irish Sign Language Awareness Week’ to raise awareness for the rights of Deaf people in Ireland

Irish Deaf Society highlights issue of Bogus Callers

 Monday 18th September 2017 The IRISH DEAF SOCIETY (IDS) is calling on the Government to end years of discrimination against those whose first language is Irish Sign Language (ISL) in employment, education, and in access to public services.

The organisation, which is hosting ‘ISL Awareness Week’ from September 16th to 24th, has been leading negotiations with the Government over the passage of an Oireachtas bill that would officially recognise ISL. If passed, the bill would give Deaf ISL users the legal right to access information in their preferred, accessible language.

Junior Health Minister Finian McGrath will officially launch ISL Awareness Week on Monday 18th September. During this week-long event, IDS will play host to a variety of community events nationwide including public talks, ‘ISL Taster’ classes and Deaf awareness training throughout the country. Under the theme of ‘Full Inclusion with Sign Language’, the week aims to highlight the importance of gaining official recognition for ISL to help break down barriers and increase public accessibility for Deaf people. ISL awareness week is also part of a global celebration of Deaf communities and sign languages worldwide.

ISL is Ireland’s native sign language and is used every day by up to 40,000 people – not just by members of the Deaf community, but their families, friends and colleagues. It is not based on English or any other spoken language, but it possesses all the agreed linguistic features that define a language, including its own structure, grammar and syntax.

Eddie Redmond, CEO of the Irish Deaf Society, said too many members of the Deaf community have been deprived of education and employment opportunities and have been unable to progress in life as a result.

“ISL is Ireland’s native sign language, and for every Deaf person who faces barriers and exclusion from society, their families and friends are affected as well. With poor access to public services, information and ISL interpreters, particularly in rural areas, it can be a lonely life for Deaf people.

“We need to create a society that gives Deaf people the same access and opportunities as hearing people, and this can only be done if ISL as recognised as an official language, but also that this recognition is backed up by meaningful supports and services in the language.

The IDS is also wants to take the opportunity during ISL Awareness Week to urge the public to be vigilant to bogus callers who are knocking door-to-door falsely claiming to be raising money for the IDS or the Deaf community. The organisation never collects door-to-door.

“For a while now we’ve had a serious issue with bogus callers knocking on people’s doors and on the streets claiming to collect for the Irish Deaf Society or the Deaf community but who are fake,” says Redmond. “They are taking genuine donations from well-meaning people who want to support the work of the Irish Deaf Society and hurting our ability to improve the lives of Deaf people.”

For more information on Irish Sign Language Awareness Week Phone: 01.8601878    Email: or check out

The public wishing to donate to the Deaf community can donate €4 by texting DEAF to 50300 (Irish Deaf Society will receive a minimum of €3.25. Service provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 0766805278).