Written Answers. - Irish Sign Language.

Ivan Yates

Question:

42 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans if any he has in relation to Irish sign language. [16159/00]

My Department supports schools in the teaching of Irish sign language to children who require it. Two classes have been established for this purpose in a special school in Dublin. Special needs assistants who are competent in Irish sign language support these classes. Additional special needs assistants have also been sanctioned by my Department in other schools for the purpose of promoting Irish sign language and such support will continue to be available to schools in general.

The national council for curriculum and assessment, as part of its review of the leaving certificate applied, has developed a new course in Irish sign language for implementation in September, 2000. This new course aims to develop students' communication skills in Irish sign language. It also aims to develop awareness and appreciation of the deaf community and its culture.

With regard to further developments in this area, my Department will continue its consultations with representatives of the deaf community and of the Model School for the Deaf project. Their views and those of the parents they represent with regard to the education of deaf children who have Irish sign language as their first language have already been acknowledged in the Education Act, 1998.

It is also my intention to establish a representative advisory committee to offer guidance to my Department on a range of key issues relating to the future education of the deaf, including the issue of sign language.