Irish Sign Language Awareness Week: ‘With Sign Language, I am Equal’
19th – 25th September 2016
The Irish Deaf Society will host Irish Sign Language (ISL) Awareness Week which takes place from Monday 19th to Sunday 25th of September 2016. The aim of this week is to promote awareness of ISL and the Deaf community in Ireland while contributing to a global celebration of Deaf communities and sign languages worldwide. The week also seeks to highlight the ways in which systemic suppression and denial of ISL in educational, legal and social contexts can have a profound effect on the lives of Deaf individuals and the community.
ISL is Ireland’s native sign language and is used by up to 40,000 people. It possesses its own structure and syntax distinct from spoken and written English. ISL is at the core of the identity of the Irish Deaf community and embodies the political, social and cultural elements of this minority group.
Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State at the Departments of Social Protection, Justice, Equality and Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues will officially launch ISL Awareness Week at Buswells Hotel on Monday 19th September at 2.30pm. The week-long celebration will play host to many different events organised by Deaf communities across the country including ISL classes and information points, social gatherings, a conference, a public demonstration in Dublin city and an ISL Flash Mob in Cork.
The World Federation of the Deaf is coordinating the simultaneous global campaign for this International Week of the Deaf under the theme ‘With Sign Language, I am Equal’. This theme acknowledges the 10 Year Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which Ireland has signed, but remains the very last EU member state to ratify it.
Along with the UNCRPD, official recognition of ISL remains a high priority for the IDS, as its current status allows a lack of legal protection for Deaf people which puts them at a disadvantage and vulnerable to marginalisation. As IDS CEO Eddie Redmond puts it, “Until ISL is recognised by the state, Deaf people remain second class citizens with many public services being completely inaccessible for ISL users.” He emphasised, “There isn’t a legal obligation to provide many essential services and information in ISL, which can often be a Deaf person’s only accessible language, so they fall through the cracks”.
A Bill for the Recognition of ISL was re-introduced to the Seanad by Senator Mark Daly in July and is expected to reach the Second Stage after the summer recess in time for ISL Awareness Week.
Irish Deaf Society
Eddie Redmond CEO – Eddie@irishdeafsociety.ie
For information – firstname.lastname@example.org
01 860 1878 www.deaf.ie