History in the making:  ISL officially recognised

The 14th of December 2017 was an historic day for the Irish Deaf Community. The Dáil passed legislation that gave official recognition to Irish Sign Language for the first time. This was the culmination of a long campaign led by the IDS, and involving a wide range of stakeholders involved in the Deaf Community’s.

The new law will be a critical step in eliminating the years of marginalisation experienced by members of the Deaf Community. The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 will give Deaf people the Right to access public services in their native language.

The Act outlines the need for better access to education through sign language, the requirement for more trained sign language interpreters, and provision for a scheme to provide access to interpreting for cultural and social activities.

Under the Act Irish Sign Language (ISL) is designated as a native and independent language that is used as the primary means of communication by over 5,000 members of the Deaf community.

Speaking ahead of the Dáil vote in December, Senator Daly outlined the importance of the Act: “Irish Deaf citizens should be able to access State services in their own language. In addition, it puts an onus on State agencies such as hospitals, schools and the Courts to make services available for the Irish Deaf community.”

“With the President expected to sign the bill into law before Christmas, I am hopeful that its provisions can be put into practice as quickly as possible to ensure that the 50,000 members of the Irish Deaf community have their civil rights protected and secured.”

The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 was signed into law by President Higgins on December 24th 2017.

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