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Calls for interpreters to be present when Deaf people attend the Dáil

The Irish Deaf Society has asked the Government to ensure that Irish Sign Language interpreters are present in the Dáil and Seanad this week.

THE IRISH DEAF Society has called on the Government to ensure that Irish Sign Language interpreters are present in the Dáil and Seanad this week while members of the Deaf community attend the public galleries.

Earlier this month, the IDS had to close down its advocacy service, which was used by about 5,000 people, following funding cuts.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has written to the Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach to request that both Houses of the Oireachtas have an ISL interpreter in place this week.

Eddie Redmond, IDS CEO, said that members of the Deaf community are “fully entitled” to attend and understand Government proceedings.

Our members find it difficult and frustrating to access public services where no ISL interpreter is available and we are fully entitled to attend and comprehend Dáil and Seanad proceedings.

“Following the cuts to our funding, we are seriously concerned for the welfare of Deaf community members, many of whom have come to depend on the advocacy service as the only viable service for them,” Redmond commented.

‘Ironic’

Daly said that there is “nothing more ironic than a Government cutting funding for a service that speaks for people who cannot speak for themselves”.

Speaking on the closure of the IDS advocacy service, Daly stated: “They were told in an e-mail that their appeal would be heard by telephone. That is the equivalent of asking an illiterate person to make an appeal in writing. This issue needs to be highlighted and debated.”

Perhaps by the Deaf community attending Oireachtas proceedings next week, it may highlight the disadvantage that they have in relation to accessing a broad range of public services.

The IDS has stressed the importance of the advocacy service as 80% of adult members of the community have literacy levels akin to those of 8 to 9-year-olds and are 4 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population.

For 11 years the service provided access for Deaf people to public services, education, healthcare and the means to employment.

The IDS has said that its closure “puts the Deaf community at further risk of social and economic isolation and a decline in living standards”.

Read: Advocacy service for deaf people closes after funding cut, leaves ’5,000 at risk’

Read: ‘Left high and dry’: TDs call for Deaf advocacy service to be re-opened

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Órla Ryan

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