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Deaf Community

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The Deaf Community in Ireland is an active and organised community. As with hearing and speaking communities, the Deaf community is made up of its members living in all parts of Ireland, and its political, cultural and social leaders and representatives.

The Deaf community has many organisations, who provide either representation on issues pertaining to legal, ethical, and also organisations who provide a network of social, sporting and leisure interest groups. The language of the Irish Deaf Community is Irish Sign Language, or ISL. Not all people who experience hearing loss are members of the Deaf community. Some hearing people who use ISL and share the values of the Deaf community are also members of the Deaf Community.

Representatives of the community work toward the recognition of ISL and seek equity and equality of access to services and education, to ensure that individuals who may be deaf are enabled and empowered to obtain a good education including third level, good career opportunities and subsequent quality of life on an equal and competitive basis with the general population.

Members of the deaf community live full and enriching lives, though may experience some restrictions in access to services, and employment opportunities that equal their potential at this time while services struggle with limited resources, skills and funding.  Whilst acknowledging this, it is also true that the Deaf community consists of individuals from early school leavers to Phd graduates and there are an ever increasing number of successful Deaf people for whom ISL is their first or preferred language.  These individuals have careers in professional, craft, trade, all sectors, and some highly successful careers achieving national recognition in fields such as in architecture, academia, research, art, photography, teaching, and others.

Within the Deaf community which has global networks on political, economic, cultural and social levels such as the European Union of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf, and other sporting organisations. They run their own leagues, Olympics, Drama some entirely within the community and some integrated projects within mainstream settings.

Being an active member of the Deaf Community or signing community gives its members pride, belonging, identity, and heritage. Being comfortable in one’s own skin is a great place from which to interact in all strata of society. 

The following video 'Experience Deafhood' (2010) was made as part of a European project - SIGNALL II.  It brings together research and deaf people's personal accounts of their educational experiences and their current perspectives on educational choices, personal identity, culture and language, and the impact of those choices throughout their adult lives.

Video presented by Paddy Ladd, of Bristol University and a number of deaf participants from Ireland and England in ISL and BSL, directed by Haaris Sheikh - as part of the SIGNALL II project

experience deafhood  Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited 2010  A short video depicting deaf people around the world, showing the variety of occupations, cultures and lifestyles.  This video was produced by