The Government has launched the first course in Ireland to enable deaf and hard of hearing people who use Irish Sign Language (ISL) to become primary school teachers.
The new B.Ed (Irish Sign Language) will be provided by Dublin City University’s Institute of Education from September, and applications are now invited through the current CAO process (closing date: February 1st 2019).
Addressing the launch event at DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus, the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh said: “This new degree programme route for people who are deaf and hard of hearing to become teachers is a hugely important step towards ensuring increased access and inclusion for all in the classroom.
“It will enable deaf children who use Irish Sign Language in primary school to fully access the curriculum by having teachers who are fluent ISL users.
“I want to thank DCU’s Institute of Education. It is an historic development. It will open the door to a world of teaching both for young people who use Irish Sign Language but also for people who want to teach through sign.”
The new B.Ed is being introduced on a pilot basis from September, with subsequent intakes of students scheduled for 2023 onwards.
The existing pre-requisite for Leaving Certificate higher-level Irish is being replaced with an entry requirement at a similar level in Irish Sign Language.
While entry to the course is exclusively for members of the deaf community who wish to become primary school teachers working in the deaf education sector, core modules will be delivered along with hearing peers in the B.Ed programme, while modules specific to deaf education will be delivered as a specialism.
Some deaf education-specific modules will be made available as electives to hearing student-teachers. The four-year, full-time undergraduate course also includes a 30-week school placement.
Dr Anne Looney, Executive Dean of the Institute of Education at DCU, said: “This new course means that children who access learning and express themselves through Irish Sign Language can be taught by teachers who do the same and who will be fantastic role models for deaf students in our education system.
"Traditionally, the languages needed to enter primary teaching have been English and Irish. Now, ISL gets its full recognition, and equal status as a path to primary teaching.
"I want to thank Minister McHugh, his predecessors and the Department of Education and Skills for this important designation, and would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr Elizabeth Mathews from the School of Inclusive and Special Education at the DCU Institute of Education in championing this work over the past eight years.”