Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (166)

Finian McGrath

Question:

285 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding obtaining full recognition for Irish sign language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2415/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

Two forms of sign languages are commonly in use in this country. The Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities received a broad range of submissions from the different disability organisations and from individuals, including proposals for the recognition of Irish sign language as the language of deaf citizens and for education to be provided to deaf children through Irish sign language. The commission pointed to the need for sign language to be recognised but did not recommend inclusion as an official language or specify a particular form of sign language. Arising from its deliberations the commission made proposals relating to the education of deaf children and access to further education options through sign language. In this regard, the Education Act 1998 has made provision for support services in respect of students learning through Irish sign language or any other sign language, including interpreting services. The Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003, which is currently before the Oireachtas, addresses the provision of services for children in education, focusing on the assessment of the needs of the individual child and this may include the consideration of appropriate sign language services.

While I support appropriate measures to further social inclusiveness for people with disabilities there are no current proposals to give recognition to Irish sign language as a third official language.