Ministers publish First Report on the Implementation of Irish Sign Language Act 2017

by Rose Barrett
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Ministers Roderic O’Gorman and Anne Rabbite welcome the First Report on the Implementation of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 and will consider recommendations on how implementation of the Act can be improved.
The Irish Sign Language Act recognises the right of the Deaf community to use ISL as their native language and to use, develop and preserve it. The Act places a duty on all public bodies to provide ISL speakers with free interpretation when availing of or seeking to access statutory entitlements and services. In addition, the Act provides for specific duties and obligations in the areas of legal proceedings, educational provision and broadcasting.      

Under the Act, an implementation report covering the three years following enactment is required, and subsequent implementation reports are required every five years thereafter. The First Report on the Implementation of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 has been prepared by the National Disability Authority at the request of the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Mr Roderic O’Gorman and the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Ms Anne Rabbitte.

Minister O’ Gorman stated that: “The report clearly indicates that we have work to do to ensure that the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 supports as intended the 50,000 people who communicate in ISL on a daily basis and the 5,000 native Deaf signers within that number whose preferred language is ISL. I am committed to ensuring that we will fully consider the recommendations made in the report, which are derived from the lived experiences of ISL users, so we can ensure that the Act is implemented comprehensively and as soon as possible.

While the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted plans for the full implementation of the Act, we now have clear and meaningful recommendations to ensure that we progress implementation of the Act in a way that best supports those who use and rely on ISL in their daily lives.”

Minister Rabbitte stated that: “I very much welcome the publication of this report as it tells us what users of ISL have known for a long time, which is that we need to do much more to ensure that ISL users are supported in accessing their statutory entitlements through their preferred language, and in having more equal access to educational, legal and cultural matters through stronger provision of ISL support in these areas of daily life.

There is a significant amount of work to be done in the immediate period ahead and I am committed to making sure that this work is accomplished as soon as possible. Through the evidence provided in the report, we now know exactly what we need to do next as a matter of priority to ensure that we deliver on what the Act promises for our ISL community.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD at the launch of ‘Someone Like Me’ primary schools art competition. PIc Finbarr O’Rourke

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