Sign language hub wants Limerick to talk the talk

Gilly Lafferty, Secretary of the Mid West ISL Hub.

HAVING Irish Sign Language (ISL) more widely taught could be key to reducing some of the barriers faced by deaf people, according to a Limerick-based organisation.

The Mid West ISL Hub believe that greater access to ISL would be a huge step forward for deaf people. To help develop the language to Limerick, the hub will run ISL classes over eight weeks, starting in April.

Gilly Lafferty, Secretary of the Mid West ISL Hub, who is herself deaf, said that the classes are open to anyone who wants to learn ISL, including those without any hearing difficulties.

Speaking to the Limerick Post through an interpreter, she said: “Our aim is to set up the classes for anybody who wants to learn ISL.”

“We want to promote Irish Sign Language and reduce barriers so it’s easier for deaf people. Even if somebody has lost their hearing, they’d be able to communicate.”

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“It’s important for people who might have a family member, or a deaf child, or perhaps CODAs (Child of a Deaf Adult).”

Since 2017, Irish Sign Language has been recognised as one of the three national languages in Ireland, along with English and Irish.

The Mid West ISL Hub have been vocal in campaigning to see ISL taught in schools too.

“We should have ISL on the curriculum because it’s now the third national language of the country, so it’s official. We are hoping to have a subject for ISL in the curriculum for the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert,” Ms Lafferty explained.

“We heard recently that the Ukrainian language is going to be put on to the curriculum for 2025 for the Leaving Cert. We’re very happy about that for Ukrainian people and access to that language, but we have been campaigning for years and years for ISL to be put onto the curriculum as a Leaving Cert subject.”

She says that the introduction of ISL in schools would also help open more job opportunities for deaf people as teachers, as well as bringing the language to the fore.

Apart from ISL classes, the Mid West ISL Hub hold regular social events for deaf people to help alleviate the isolation that they may feel, including cookery and makeup classes. They also hold a regular Mass for deaf people.

ISL classes will take place at the office of Chime on Pery Street from April 18. For more information, email [email protected].