Minister O’ Gorman and Minister Rabbitte publish the First Report on the Implementation of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017
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 T.D. and the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Ms. Anne Rabbitte T.D.
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.
- A copy of the Act is available here: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/act/40/enacted/en/html
- A copy of the Report is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/ad30f-publication-of-the-report-on-the-operation-of-the-irish-sign-language-act-2017/
- The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 (the Act) recognises the right of Irish Sign Language (ISL) users to use ISL as their native language, and to develop and preserve it. The Act places a statutory duty on all public bodies to provide ISL users with free interpretation when availing of or seeking to access statutory entitlements and services provided by or under statute. In addition, the Act provides for specific obligations in the areas of legal proceedings, educational provision and broadcasting.
- Section 10 of the Act requires that a report on the operation of the ISL Act be produced initially three years after enactment and every five years thereafter. In line with these requirements, the National Disability Authority was commissioned to produce the first report on the operation of the Act within the required timeframe. The Report was finalised in December 2021, and an ISL translation was finalised in January 2022.
- There was a delay in laying the report before the Houses, and subsequently publishing it, due to a legal matter. However, publication of the Report had remained under ongoing review and the process of publicising the Report was recommenced in late November of 2022.
- The Act contains specific obligations for particular Ministers, and any questions in relation to those obligations should be directed to relevant Departments.
- In March 2022, Ministers Foley and Madigan announce the establishment of a scheme to provide Irish Sign Language Support for children whose primary language is Irish Sign Language (ISL) and who are attending recognised schools. Further information is available here and from the Department of Education.
- Any questions in relation to the information above can be directed to Disability_Policy@equality.gov.ie
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