Irish Sign Language Awareness Week

Irish Sign Language Awareness Week based on the theme ‘With Sign Language, I Am Equal’ will take place from September 18 to 24. It is hoped that the awareness campaign will help to encourage people to learn sign language so that they can communicate with the deaf and bring more awareness to deaf culture.

Irish Sign Language is the first and/or preferred language of 5000 Deaf people in Ireland and approximately 40,000 people in general will communicate in ISL (family, friends, co-workers, etc). Irish Sign Language is different from all other sign languages such as British Sign Language, American Sign Language etc.

Irish Sign Language is different from all other sign languages such as British Sign Language, American Sign Language which tends to come as a surprise too many people when they find out.

Caitriona McCaughey who lives down the Point Road spoke of the daily problems deaf people face in their everyday lives.

“Unfortunately, we are an easy group to ignore because we have no voice. Deaf people face problems every single day doing things most people take for granted. Going to the bank or to the doctor can cause problems and it can be hard to get your message across. It can be tough if you have got a private issue you want to discuss with a professional as generally you have to bring a third party in to interpret for you which obviously isn’t ideal,” explained Caitriona.

“What we want is for the Government to recognise and support Irish Sign Language as an official language but we know we have still a long road ahead before that happens. We would particularly like the language to be officially recognised in the education sector where it’s acquisition as a first language for deaf children is so vital,” she added.

Caitriona is a member of the Dundalk Deaf Group which has about 30 members. The group celebrated their 10th anniversary last year. Tricia Nugent is the secretary of the group and as she explains the awareness week is designed to get more people learning ISL so that they can communicate better with deaf people.

“We would love for the language to be officially recognised of course but even while it’s not people can still learn a few simple signs themselves and help the deaf community become less isolated. We are hoping that schools will open their doors to deaf people in the near future and maybe bring in somebody to help teach the kids the basics of Irish Sign Language. The deaf community feel ignored and we need to change that,” stated Trish.

There will be an information morning held in the Dundalk library on September 20 at 11am. For further details call Tricia on 0857390844.

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