Historic legislation to give sign language official recognition

Senator Mark Daly
Senator Mark Daly

Legislation to give sign language official recognition for the first time is a step closer to becoming law.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly’s bill, which was initiated in the Seanad last year is due to pass its stages in the Dáil today RTÉ reports.

The bill is expected to be signed into law soon after by President Michael D Higgins.

Fifty thousand members of Ireland’s deaf community use sign language.

The Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill allows deaf people to access services of the State in their own language.

Public bodies would be required to create action plans on how to promote the use of the language within their organisations.

It would also allow the language to be used in the courts and introduces statutory targets on the accessibility of TV programming.

Under the proposed law, there would also be an Irish Sign Language Council.

That body would regulate interpreters, teachers and also deaf interpreters.

Senator Daly said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the bill will bring an end to the marginalisation of the deaf community.

However, he added that there would be a transition period of a few years as there is a lack of sign language interpreters in Ireland.