The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.
People with disabilities, including those who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind, can access the broad range of Acute Care, Primary Care and Community based services that are provided by the HSE. They can also avail of specialist disability services, which are provided in a variety of community and residential settings in partnership with service users, their families and carers and a range of statutory, non-statutory and community groups.
There are a number of non-statutory organisations specifically focussed on addressing the needs of the deaf community. Services offered include family and support services, assistive technology and assistive listening devices, communication therapy and lip-reading classes, information and advice, sign language classes, and a mental health and deafness service.
Most of these organisations receive funding from the HSE, either through local grants of varying amounts and/or direct funding. The HSE had 35 separate service level agreements with organisations providing services for the deaf or hard of hearing in 2018.
I am aware of the financial difficulties that the Irish Deaf Society is currently experiencing and the concerns regarding its future sustainability.
The Irish Deaf Society focuses its service delivery on advocacy, training and development as distinct from the delivery of health and social care supports to the deaf community and for this reason, it does not receive core-funding from the Health Vote. However, there are a number of other funding options available to the Irish Deaf Society. It has received funding, in the past, from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Education & Skills. It has also received grants from the Department of Justice and Equality and the National Lottery.
I am currently working with colleagues in Government to see if this issue can be resolved and I remain hopeful of a positive outcome.