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Irish Sign Language (ISL) Recognition Campaign (information copied with thanks from the Irish Deaf Society)

To see this information in Irish Sign Langauge (ISL), go to gnition-campaign

Irish Sign Language is not yet recognised in Ireland. The Irish Deaf Society has been campaigning for more than thirty years to get it recognised to ensure equality for Deaf people in Irish Society.

Achieving recognition of ISL and official status would allow access for Deaf people to their full participation as citizens of their own country.

The current situation in Ireland is that:
  • No Deaf child can fully learn Irish Sign Language as not all teachers would be fluent or qualified in ISL
  • There is no automatic right for Deaf people to have an ISL interpreter (excluding criminal court proceedings)
  • Service providers such as Government bodies are not obligated to respect
  • Irish Sign Language - they will translate information into English and Irish but rarely ISL
  • The IDS has to lobby for information translated into Irish Sign Language
  • There is only little accessible ISL on our TV screens (usually in the early hours of morning)
  • Irish Sign Language is considered a 'support service' as evident in the Education Act of 1998 (the only legislation that mentions ISL) and does not recognise it as a language in its own right
  • The UN convention on the rights of people with Disabilities (UNCRPD) mentions signed languages in its five articles. Ireland has not yet ratified it.

If we get Irish Sign Language recognition, this will ensure us:
  • More legal rights for ISL users
  • Better access to public services
  • Better education for Deaf children
  • Better third level education and training for Deaf adults
  • Better interpreting quality and monitoring - avoid cowboy interpreters.

The IDS has established a cross-community group focusing on ISL recognition in September 2012. The meetings take quarterly to work together to toward the ISL recognition. The current group members are:
  • Irish Deaf Society
  • Catholic Institute of Deaf people
  • Deaf Sports Ireland
  • Bridge Interpreting
  • Irish Deaf Youth Association
  • Sign Language Interpreter Services
  • Irish Deaf Women Group
  • Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters
  • Greenbow LBGT
  • Centre of Deaf Studies

The momentum for ISL recognition continues to grow, with many Local Authorities having passed motions over the few years calling upon the Government to legally recognise ISL as a matter of urgency.

Working toward ISL recognition, the IDS recognition campaign team continues to work with politicians and lawmakers.

The IDS recognition campaign team is more than happy to give a presentation about the ISL recognition campaign. Please contact us at

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