Andrew Geary and son Callum on the Late Late Show tonight – IDS Statement on Deaf Education

30th April 2021

The Irish Deaf Society wishes Andrew and his 12-year-old twin son Callum the best of luck with their television interview tonight on the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy. They will discuss their experience of Deaf Education in Ireland as a pupil, a parent and a family. Andrew joins a long line of parents who have fought for their children’s rights in Deaf education.

Deaf people in Ireland have a rich culture and we are proud of Irish Sign Language (ISL). We have strong community connections and there are many Irish Deaf role models that can inspire young Deaf pupils and students.

Through hard work and dedication, despite the barriers that Deaf people face, some have found ways to achieve the highest standards of education with Academic degrees and PhD qualifications, they serve on boards of organisations, work in senior positions and are self-employed. For some, this has meant longer routes, additional years or more complicated work than their hearing peers.

It is also true to say that Deaf people do not have the same opportunities and access that contribute to success in education and employment as their hearing peers.

The Deaf community is not an isolated community. We have created our own Deaf spaces where we can enjoy Irish Sign Language. Of course, we engage with the wider community but the challenges we face often result in marginalisation.

How are we marginalised? The primary way that Deaf people are marginalised is due to a lack of access to education, employment and services through Irish Sign language. Despite the success stories in the Deaf community, for some people this results in lower standards of education, limited job opportunities, poverty and mental health problems.

How can these challenges be addressed? We call on the Government to deliver a clear strategy to educate and train Deaf people to become teachers and deliver education to children through ISL. This is needed in order to fully implement the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 which was commenced in December 2020. We must have a pathway to delivering education for Deaf children by teachers fluent in ISL and the Home Tuition Scheme needs to be completely re-examined.

How can these challenges be addressed? We call on the Government to deliver a clear strategy to educate and train Deaf people to become teachers and deliver education to children through ISL. This is needed in order to fully implement the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 which was commenced in December 2020. We must have a pathway to delivering education for Deaf children by teachers fluent in ISL and the Home Tuition Scheme needs to be completely re-examined. Access in work is also a priority and we call on the Government to start a scheme similar to the UK “Access to Work Scheme” which is a net contributor to the exchequer.

The Government must also implement all aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. IDS is a founder member of the Coalition of Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) in Ireland, also known as the DPO Coalition and we are working with other DPO organisations to write a Shadow report on the Irish Governments implementation of UN CRPD.

Article 24 of CRPD calls on countries to provide education to Deaf learners in their National sign languages in order to maximise academic and social development. This article includes equal access to primary, secondary, and postsecondary education as well as vocational training and adult education.

Article 25 calls on governments to provide early intervention to Deaf children and provide services to prevent further disabilities, such as language deprivation. This article includes equal access to early childhood education.

The Deaf child in Ireland does not need to be fixed, the education system needs to be fixed.

No family of Deaf children should be in a position where their child does not have equal access to achieve their potential and have to deal with the pressures and stresses.

Deaf children deserve a better education.

About the Irish Deaf Society

The Irish Deaf Society provides Deaf Awareness Training and Irish Sign Language classes. We will continue to campaign for the rights of Deaf people, children and adults, to have the same access and opportunities in education, employment and public services as other members of society.

The UN CRPD calls on States to prioritise the viewpoint of the Deaf community, this must be funded so that the rich and varied living experience of Deaf people can inform the policies and initiatives that impact our lives.

Further Information:

www.irishdeafsociety.ie

Twitter – @IrishDeafSoc

https://www.facebook.com/IrishDeafSociety/

Find out more at www.deaf.ie