The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 was signed into law in December 2017 and provides for the following:-
- Recognition of the right of ISL users to use ISL as their native language;
- The placing of a duty on public services to provide free interpretation services when accessing statutory services; and
- The placing of an obligation on courts to take all reasonable steps to allow persons competent in ISL to be heard in ISL.
The Act will come into operation not later than December 2020.
Section 9 of the Act provides that the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection may, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, provide funds to facilitate users of Irish Sign Language to access social, educational and cultural events and services (including medical) and other activities, as specified in guidelines made by the Minister.
The Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), which is mainly funded by the Citizens Information Board is in the process of developing guidelines for how such a scheme might operate. When complete , guidelines will be submitted to me for approval, as required by the legislation. The intention then, is for SLIS to pilot a scheme and the outcome of that pilot will inform further more detailed proposals and revised guidelines, as may be required, which will in turn, inform future annual funding requirements for such a scheme.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.