Seven-year-old Cork boy to get sign language support at school after family’s ‘long battle’

Calum Geary: Born without hearing.

The family of schoolboy Calum Geary, a twin born without hearing, has received a boost after it was confirmed money will be provided for an Irish Sign Language (ISL) professional at his primary school.

The family have been engaged in a long-running campaign and have argued that seven-year-old Calum, from Ballyhooly near Fermoy, Co Cork, was one of just 10 to 20 children in the country who requires the in-class supports.

In 2012, Calum underwent pioneering surgery in the UK to improve his hearing, but unfortunately the surgery did not work as anticipated and so his family switched their attention to securing top-level signing supports for Calum and others with similar hearing issues.

His father Andrew said Calum was two-and-a-half years old when his lack of an auditory nerve was diagnosed.

He attends St Columba’s Girls’ National School with Facility for Deaf Children in Douglas, and Andrew praised the efforts of those at the school for all they have done for Calum.

But he said it was essential that top-level ISL be provided for Calum so it could “act as a bridge to English”. “This bridge is through a fluent ISL person,” he said.

Mr Geary, who was part of the recent Irish NGO delegation which appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during its review of Ireland’s performance, said government-commissioned reports had also stressed the importance of ISL for children with profound hearing difficulties.

The family had been seeking the ISL professional for Calum over recent years in what Mr Geary described as “a long battle”, with the news only emerging this week that their efforts had proved successful.

“Calum is a bright boy who believes he can do anything, he wants the same from life as his twin brother, the same love, wants, needs care, and education,” he said.


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