Deaf community deserve equal treatment – Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Government to give full official recognition to Irish Sign Language (ISL), which is used by upwards of 45,000 members of the deaf community in Ireland. The language already has official recognition in the North, and members of the Deaf community are campaigning for similar recognition in the South.
Liadh Ní Riada MEP said:
“The Irish Deaf Society has been campaigning for more than thirty years to have Irish Sign Language officially recognised by the state in order to ensure equality for Deaf people in accessing services, stating informed and participating fully in our society.
“ISL is the indigenous language used by the Deaf Community in Ireland, and is part of a unique, rich and valuable culture. It is distinct from British and American sign language. and has no connection to spoken English or Irish.
“The Deaf Community see themselves as a linguistic minority, and take pride in their distinct language and culture, which in itself is part of the great cultural diversity of our country. It is high time that their language was given the recognition it deserves.
“In the wake of the recent marriage equality referendum I am calling on the Government to strike while the iron is hot and bring forward legislation to give full official recognition to ISL. Acquiring this status will lead to greater awareness of the language and also enforce the rights of Deaf people to access essential information in their own language.
“It will also provide far more certainty that Deaf people could access ISL interpreter services for essential situations such as job interviews, using health services, education and court hearings.
“If want to build a fair recovery for all we need to commit to ensuring a level playing field for all our people. Giving recognition to ISL will be a strong and positive step on the road to a fair recovery.”