Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Irish Sign Language

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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159. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when she foresees the filling of posts for Irish sign language interpreters following the recent announcement; if she will provide a timeline for same; the number of posts that will be filled; the geographical breakdown of these posts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23359/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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In March Minister Foley and I were pleased to announced details of a new scheme for the provision of Irish Sign Language (ISL) in-school support for students who are Deaf and whose primary means of communication is ISL.

The new scheme will involve two key strands of support:

- Programme of intensive in-school support for individual students to enable them access teaching and learning and participate in school life.

- Programme of training and support to build capacity among the school community including teachers, special needs assistants, other school staff and pupils on communication using Irish Sign Language.

The new scheme is targeted at children and young people attending primary, special and post-primary school who were born without an auditory nerve or due to infection, disease, trauma, failed technology intervention (for example cochlear implants), their auditory nerve has ceased to function completely and whose primary means of communication is using Irish Sign Language.

Under the scheme, a package of dedicated specialist ISL supports will be allocated to relevant schools so these students have a more inclusive school experience.

The establishment of the new scheme follows the commencement of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 on 23 December 2020. Section 5 of the Act outlines a number of requirements in relation to education including the establishment of this scheme.

In developing the new scheme, we recognise that the primary educator in a school is the class teacher, who is qualified and registered with the Teaching Council.

The new roles will support the work of the class teachers and complement other teaching support and care support provided for the targeted students.

The deployment of the new supports is consistent with a key principle underpinning Department policy on the allocation of supports to students with special educational needs that the child with the greatest level of need should receive the greatest level of support.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will be responsible for the delivery of the new supports under the scheme. Schools that identify students with a need for specialised ISL support will be invited to submit an application to the NCSE.

The details of the operation of the new scheme are currently being finalised and following consultation with stakeholders, the new scheme will be published. The aim is that the scheme will be operational early in the next school year 2022/23.

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