Irish Sign Language given official legal recognition

New Act will allow use of the language in courts and for State services for 50,000 people

President Michael D Higgins who on Sunday signed new legislation conferring legal recognition on Irish Sign Language. Photograph: PA

President Michael D Higgins who on Sunday signed new legislation conferring legal recognition on Irish Sign Language. Photograph: PA

 

President Michael D Higgins has signed new legislation conferring legal recognition on Irish Sign Language.

The Irish Sign Language Bill 2016 was passed by the Oireachtas earlier this month, and is now officially designated as a native and independent language following the President’s approval.

The new Act will benefit some 50,000 members of the deaf community in the State who will be able to access services through the language, which can also now be used in the courts when necessary.

The Private Members Bill was first introduced by Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, and went on to receive cross-party support in the Oireachtas.

Mr Daly said he hopes the legal recognition will help to end the “extreme marginalisation” felt by the deaf community in Irish society.

A quality assurance and registration scheme will be established for interpreters, who will also be able to avail of ongoing professional training.