Sign Language Bill will be transformative for members of the Irish Deaf Community

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Senator Mark Daly says that his legislation on Irish Sign Language (ISL), being debated tomorrow (Wednesday, 19th October) in Seanad Éireann will give ISL users full and proper recognition before law.

The ‘Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill’, which was published by Senator Daly and the Fianna Fáil grouping, will empower the Irish deaf community by placing ISL on a statutory basis.

“Last week, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice launched a report on this issue, and recommended the passage of this piece of legislation.”

“This bill, when passed, will we hope make a positive and meaningful difference to the quality of life for Irish Sign Language users,” said Daly.

“Under the bill, Irish Sign Language would be 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.”

“The impact of this piece of legislation would be truly transformative for the deaf community enabling ISL to be used in legal proceedings and would require Irish TV broadcasters to have subtitling on a greater proportion of broadcasts.”

“From interaction with social protection services to buying a TV license or dealing with your local authority, the Irish deaf community have been denied equal rights and opportunities for years.”

“When this bill is passed, it will also require the State to provide interpreting services for students who use Irish Sign Language, and would require every public body to devise and implement an action plan to promote the use of sign language within the organisation,” added Daly.

“The legislation further proposes the creation of an Irish Sign Language Council to promote the development of the language, regulate its teaching and co-ordinate interpreting services.”

“16 Local Authorities have passed motions to date calling for recognition of Irish Sign Language and the implementation of supports to aid the deaf community. It’s important that these calls are answered by the Oireachtas.”

“This is a sensible, pragmatic yet highly transformative piece of legislation. I am hopeful of cross-party support to bring it to the next stage of the legislative process.

“This is an important step in fully, and properly, integrating the deaf community into wider Irish society,” concluded Senator Daly.

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