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languages:irish_sign_language_in_ireland



Irish Sign Language in Ireland

Language designations:

  • In the language itself: Irish Sign Language (English) 1) 2) or Teanga Chomharthaíochta na hÉireann (Gaeilge/Irish) 3) 4)
  • ISO 639-3 standard: isg

Language vitality according to:

Linguistic aspects:

  • Classification: Sign Language → French Sign Language or Francosign Family (LSF). For more information, see Irish Sign Language at Glottolog.
  • Script: No script.

Language standardization

There is no script, therefore there is no standardized orthography.

Demographics

Language Area

Irish Sign Language (ISL) is used scattered throughout the Republic of Ireland but also in parts of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland both Irish Sign Language and British sign Language are used. 5) 6) Gender-based dialectal differences existed as a result of separate schools for boys and girls. Though Ethnologue claims this difference has lessened over time, other research shows that it is still present. 7)8)9)

Speaker numbers

There are several estimations of speaker numbers according to different sources:

  • According to Leeson and Saeed (2012) there are around 6,500 Deaf people across the island of Ireland who use ISL and around 65,000 hearing signers.10)
  • According to the Irish Deaf Society, there are 5.000 Deaf people with ISL as first language and 40.000 hearing signers of ISL 11)
  • According to Ethnologue, there are 21.050 signers of ISL.12)

Education of the language

History of language education:

In 1816, the first school for the deaf in Ireland was founded by Dr. Charles Orpen. 13) Orpen also established the National Institution for the Education of the Deaf in Ireland. In the period of 1816 to 1849, nine institutes for the education of the deaf were established, even though two of them closed down in a short period of time. 14) Most of these Deaf institutions were divided per gender, meaning there were boys-only and girls-only schools, and this resulted in a gendered sign language. 15) As a result of the established deaf institutes, more Deaf people were brought together. They mostly communicated through the use of sign language, and because of this the Deaf community and the use of Irish Sign Language grew in Ireland. 16)

All Irish institutions used a manual system of instruction. 17) However, from 1887 the Claremont Institute changed to an oral system of instruction. From 1940, more oralist approaches were used in Deaf education in Ireland following the oralist policies used in Deaf instutions in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Oral instruction was not seen as a problem by the Deaf community. However, with the implementation of oralist approaches the use of sign language was forbidden and as a result Irish Sign Language became suppressed and frowned upon. 18)

In 1972, the Advisory Committee on the “Education of Children who are Handicapped by Impaired Hearing” ratified the philosophy of strict segregation and oralist approaches. 19) Families were advised to not sign in their home and because of this a few generations who could not effectively communicate were generated. 20) From 1990, the Irish government policy recommends bilingual education of English and Irish Sign Language and Irish Sign Language is now seen as the language to educational success for deaf people. 21) 22)

Legislation of language education

European Legistalion

EU Resolutions

On June 17, 1988, the European Parliament signed the Resolution on Sign Languages 1988 in which it asks member countries to recognize their national sign languages as official languages. 23) 24). Ten years later in 1998, the Resolution on Sign Languages 1998 followed.

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Irish Sign Language is not protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992), as Ireland has not signed nor ratified the Charter. Moreover, sign languages are not explicitly protected by the Charter.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) is the first international human rights convention that explicitly considers sign languages to be languages (Article 21)25). This Convention is signed (2007) and ratified (2018) by Ireland 26) One of the results of the UN Convention is that the learning of sign languages should be facilitated by state parties. Next to this, sign languages should also be recognized and supported by state parties.

National Legislation

Irish Sign Language Act 2017

Irish Sign Language was officially recognized in 2017 with the Irish Sign Language Act of 2017. The Act (section 3) states:

  • The State recognises the right of Irish Sign Language users to use Irish Sign Language as their native language and the corresponding duty on all public bodies to provide Irish Sign Language users with free interpretation when availing of or seeking to access statutory entitlements and services.
  • The community of persons using Irish Sign Language shall have the right to use, develop and preserve Irish Sign Language.

For education (section 5), the Act provides provision for ISL classes, ISL support, ISL teacher training and educational support services.

Education Act 1998

In the Education Act 1998 it is stated that support services for persons with a disability or other special educational needs include the use of Irish Sign Language or other sign languages and interpreting services. How these support services are to be fulfilled is not specified in the act. It is also not explicitly mentioned that using Irish Sign Language is compulsory.

Disabilty Act 2005

The Disability Act 2005 amends to the Broadcasting Act 2001 and, as a result, each broadcaster must provide access to material through sign language. 27)

Support structure for education of the language

Support at home

The Irish Sign Language (ISL) Tuition Scheme: provides funding for weekly tuition service at home for training in ISL for the child, parent(s)/ guardian(s), and sibling(s).

Teacher training

Since 2019, there is a Bachelor of Education - Irish Sign Language, offered by Dublin City University:

Interpreter training

The Centre for Deaf Studies: is based in Trinity College, Dublin, and aims to increase the number of Irish Sign Language/English interpreters with professional training. The centre is also involved in research about Deaf education, interpreting services in the mid-west region, digital material for teaching Irish Sign Language and e-learning. Also, they helped creating the Signs of Ireland Corpus. 28)

Education presence

Pre-school

There is one ISL pre-school:

Other form of pre-school support is the Irish Sign Language (ISL) Tuition Scheme.

Primary and post-primary education

Deaf schools

In total, there are three Deaf schools in Ireland that offer primary and post-primary education.

The Catholic Institute for Deaf People (CIPD) is a non-profit organisation enabling services to the Deaf community. This organisation is associated with two Deaf schools in Cabra:

In 2015, the CIPD merged the schools for the boys and the girls into the Holy Family School for the Deaf starting from primary level. 29) They offer the same classes that are available in mainstream schools but with Irish Sign Language to support language acquisition. These are boarding schools, students stay here during the week and visit their parents during weekends and vacations.

The Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick offers primary and post-primary education through sign language or orally.

The school offers the same classes that are available in mainstream schools but with Irish Sign Language to support language acquisition. This is not a boarding school, students travel daily to follow classes here.

In these three Deaf schools Irish Sign Language is prevalent and used throughout pre-school to secondary education. Next to Irish Sign Language they also learn English and the oral method is also used. The schools get subsidized by the Irish government. The children enrolled in these schools are likely to use Irish Sign Language outside school. 30) 31) 32)

Mainstream Schools

Parents also have the option to send their children to a mainstream school. In any mainstream school, resources are provided based on the individual needs of the child. 33) There are also mainstream schools where there are more classes or resources for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children. 34) In these situations, Irish Sign Language classes are limited and the amount differs per school.

University Education

Trinity College Dublin offers a Bachelor in Deaf Studies which focuses on the Deaf community and the Irish Sign Language. Later on in the programme there is a focus on Irish Sign Language teaching or Irish Sign Language interpreting. For this programme, no prior knowledge of Irish Sign Language is needed. The Bachelor in Deaf Studies “strongly encourage[s] applications from Deaf and hard of hearing students”. 35)

Learning resources

Organisations

  • Irish Deaf Society: offers free Irish Sign Language classes for deaf adults. They also offer paid classes.
  • The Irish Deaf: offers paid Irish Sign Language Classes.
  • Deaf Village Ireland: contains several Deaf organisations that offers a range of facilities including Irish Sign Language classes.

Online resources

1)
SIL International, Documentation for ISO 639 identifier (2015), [accessed 5 December 2017].
2) , 4) , 6) , 7) , 12) , 21)
Ethnologue, Irish Sign Language (2017), [accessed 5 December 2017].
3)
DBPedia, About: Irish Sign Language (2017), [accessed 5 December 2017].
5) , 28)
Trinity College Dublin/The University of Dublin, Centre for Deaf Studies (2016), [accessed 5 December 2017].
8) , 10)
Leesson, L. & Saeed, J. I. (2012). Irish Sign Language: A Cognitive Linguistic Account. Edinburgh University Press.
9)
Leeson, L. & Grehan, C. (2004). The Effect of Gender on Variation in Irish Sign Language. In To the Lexicon and Beyond: . Gallaudet University Press (pp.39-73). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260038564_To_the_Lexicon_and_Beyond_The_Effect_of_Gender_on_Variation_in_Irish_Sign_Language.
11)
Irish Deaf Society. (n.d.). Irish Sign Language. Retrieved March 24, 2020 from: https://www.irishdeafsociety.ie/irish-sign-language/.
13)
Pollard (2006) as cited in Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
14)
McDonnell (1979) as cited in Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
15) , 17)
Leeson and Saeed (2012) as cited in Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
16) , 18) , 22)
Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
19)
Department of Education (1972) as cited in Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
20)
James, O'Neill and Smyth (1992) as cited in Leeson, L., Saeed, J.I. and Grehan, C., 'Irish Sign Language (ISL)', in Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook, ed. by Jepsen, J.B., De Clerck, G., Lutalo-Kiingi, S. & McGregor, W.B. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2015), pp. 449-472.
23)
European Union of the Deaf (EUD), European Parliament Resolution on Sign Languages 1988 (2002), [accessed 5 December 2017].
24)
Wilcox, S.E., Krausneker, V. & Armstrong, D.F. (2012). Language policies and the Deaf community. In B. Spolsky (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy (pp. 374-395). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
25)
De Meulder, M. (2016). Artikel 24 van het VN Verdrag inzake de Rechten van Personen met een Handicap en dove gebarentaligen: naar een nieuwe interpretatie van het begrip 'inclusief onderwijs'. In G. Van Hoven, A. Schippers, M. Cardol & E. De Schauwer (Eds.), Disability Studies in de Lage Landen. Antwerpen: Garant Uitgeverij.
26)
United Nations. Chapter IV Human Rights. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-15&chapter=4&clang=_en.
27)
National Council for Special Education, The Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Ireland [Policy Advice Paper] (2011), [accessed 5 December 2017].
29)
Catholic Institute for Deaf People, Amalgation of St. Mary's and St. Joseph's schools (n.d.), [accessed 5 December 2017].
30)
Midwest School for the Deaf, Midwest School for the Deaf (n.d.), [accessed 5 December 2017].
31)
St. Joseph's School for Deaf Boys St. Joseph's School for Deaf Boys (2017), [accessed 5 December 2017].
32)
St. Mary's School for Deaf Girls St. Mary's School for Deaf Girls (2013), [accessed 5 December 2017].
33)
Deaf Education Centre, Deaf Education in Ireland (n.d.), [accessed 5 December 2017].
34)
National Council for Special Education, Special Classes (2015), [accessed 5 December 2017].
35)
Trinity College Dublin/University of Dublin Bachelor in Deaf Studies (2017), [accessed 5 December 2017].
languages/irish_sign_language_in_ireland.txt · Last modified: 2020/09/08 10:38 by ydwine

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