In a recent article with the Irish Independent (16/10/16), Dr Elizabeth Mathews in the School of Inclusive and Special Education highlighted the lack of access for Deaf students to Initial Teacher Education. The article, written by journalist Graham Clifford, sought to highlight the difficulties faced by the Deaf Community in Ireland owing to the lack of recognition of Irish Sign Language.
Last week, the Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill received cross-party support in the Seanad, moving it a step closer to becoming law. The current lack of recognition for Irish Sign Language (which is recognised in Northern Ireland but not in the Republic), highlights that many obstacles still remain for equity of access for Deaf people. One obstacle facing Deaf students is the requirement for Irish (Gaeilge) for entry to Initial Teacher Education (primary teaching). Many Deaf school-pupils are exempt from learning Irish while they are at school, but this later prohibits them from becoming primary school teachers. As a result, Deaf school-pupils rarely have access to Deaf teachers in school, and for those students using Irish Sign Language to access the curriculum, there is a lack of suitable language role models in the education system.
Dr Elizabeth Mathews hopes to address this anomaly by introducing a Bachelor of Education (ISL entry route) at the new Institute of Education at DCU. This programme is currently in development and will go forward for accreditation with the Teaching Council in 2018.
Read Graham Clifford’s full article here.