independent

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Call for school sign language lessons

Taster classes available during Irish sign language awareness week

Edward Power from Kilmacanogue and James and Niamh Doyle from Aughrim, who are part of the committee of the Wicklow Deaf Society, which is promoting Irish Sign Language Awareness Week, which runs until this Sunday, September 24.
Edward Power from Kilmacanogue and James and Niamh Doyle from Aughrim, who are part of the committee of the Wicklow Deaf Society, which is promoting Irish Sign Language Awareness Week, which runs until this Sunday, September 24.

Mary Fogarty

Irish Sign Language Awareness Week is under way and Edward Power said that Irish Sign Language (ISL) should be taught in schools - just like other languages such as Irish or French.

Edward is chairman of the Wicklow Deaf Society and is available to visit schools or night classes all over the county to teach sign language.

'I think all schools and colleges should have classes,' said the Enniskerry man, who works part-time for the HSE teaching nurses and care assistants.

After working as a plasterer for 30 years, Edward ceased that profession due to the recession and went to Trinity College Dublin. He and his wife Bridie have three children, two girls and a boy, all in their 20s.

Junior Health Minister Finian McGrath officially launched the ISL Awareness Week last Monday.

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

There will be sign language tuition at Bray Library starting this Thursday, September 21, and running until early December, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To reserve a place, contact caobrien@wicklowcoco.ie.

The Irish Deaf Society said that it is calling on the Government 'to end years of discrimination against those whose first language is Irish Sign Language in employment, education, and in access to public services'.

The organisation has been leading negotiations with the Government over the passage of an Oireachtas bill that would officially recognise ISL and, if passed, would give ISL users the legal right to access information in their preferred, accessible language.

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 is recognised as an official language, but also that this recognition is backed up by meaningful supports and services in the language.

For more information on ISL Awareness Week call 01 8601878, email info@irishdeafsociety.ie or visit www.deaf.ie

To donate €4, text DEAF to 50300.

Bray People

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