A student from the Navan Road, who communicates through Irish Sign Language, has become amongst the first to register to become one of Ireland’s first deaf primary school teachers.
Kevin Dudley has begun studying the Irish Sign Language primary teaching pathway at Dublin City University on its Bachelor of Education programme.
Kevin was joined by Aimee Ennis McLoughlin from Dun Laoghaire, Sinead Leahy from Cork, and Aisling O’Halloran from Galway.
The four students will fill the four places made available on the Bachelor of Education programme, which will allow deaf and hard of hearing people to enter primary teaching for the first time.
Speaking at DCU as he prepared to begin his studies this week, Kevin said: “I feel like a huge door has opened for me, and now I’m here to change deaf children’s futures for the better.”
Until now, there has been no entry route to primary teaching for a person communicating through Irish Sign Language, making this pathway the first of its kind in the State’s history.
The four students on the pathway have been provided with scholarships by Folens Publishers and the Catholic Institute for Deaf People (CIDP), and began the full-time, four-year undergraduate course last Monday.
Keith Adams, chief executive of the CIDP, said: “Thanks to a bequest from the late Esther Foy, we are delighted to be in a position to support this groundbreaking pilot.
“We look forward to seeing these first students qualify and become the teachers of the future to deaf and hard of hearing children, thus ensuring these children have the best opportunities to access college and employment in the future.”
Entry to the programme is exclusively for members of the deaf community who wish to become teachers in the deaf education centre.
However, course modules will be delivered along with hearing peers, in the Bachelor of Education programme.
Modules specific to deaf education will be delivered separately and some deaf education-specific modules will be made available as electives to hearing student-teachers.
The programme will also include a 30-week school placement.
Dr Anne Looney, executive dean of DCU’s Institute of Education, said: “Today is a historic day. This new pathway is hugely significant for people who are users of Irish Sign Language, providing them with the opportunity to become teachers and, in turn, marking an important step in ensuring in-creased access and inclusion for all in the classroom.
“It is a ground-breaking development for all concerned and particularly for, deaf children in primary school who will have teachers who are fluent Irish Sign Language users.
“I want to congratulate our new, incoming students and wish them the very best as they start university life.”