The passing of the Irish Sign Language Bill 2016 through the Seanad is a real sign of progress for the deaf community in this country, according to the Leader of the Seanad, Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer. Senator Buttimer was speaking after the Bill passed through the Seanad today (Friday) after passing through the Dáil yesterday (Thursday).
“This has been a momentous week of progress for the deaf community in Ireland with official recognition of Irish Sign Language (ISL), placing it on a statutory footing in this country for the first time.
“This legislation places a duty on public bodies to provide ISL interpretation at no cost to the user when access to statutory entitlements is sought by a person; and also provides a clear statutory right to use ISL in court proceedings.
“I want pay tribute to the Irish Deaf Society for their work in this area as well as all the many advocates from the deaf community who help to inform and educate on the importance of this legislation.
“I also particularly want to commend the Cork Deaf Society for the marvellous work they have carried out over many years, supporting members of the deaf community here in Cork.
“The Government has now strengthened commitments made to the deaf community in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy launched this year.
“In addition to actions in the strategy providing for the extension of the ISL remote interpretation service to evenings and weekends, and supporting this legislation to ensure that all public bodies provide ISL users with free interpretation when accessing or availing of their statutory services, we are also ensuring that the Sign Language Interpretation Service (SLIS) will be resourced to increase the number of trained Sign Language and Deaf Interpreters.
“A quality-assurance and registration scheme for interpreters will be established, and there will be on-going professional training and development provided for interpreters.
“Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath confirmed that funding of €327,000 is being made available to SLIS via the Citizens Information Board for this work in 2018.”