A pilot scheme that will use technology to support members of the deaf community in garda stations has been in operation in Dublin and Kerry.
A webcam and computer will deliver video-link access to the Irish Remote Interpreting Service (IRIS) which provides an Irish Sign Language interpreter.
The facility will help members of the deaf community make routine inquiries at the Garda stations, process official documents such as passport or driving licence forms, take contact details from deaf people, and arrange bookings. However it will not be used to take any statements regarding a crime or translate any information that forms part of a Legal/Criminal case.
The Pilot initiative is being launched as part of the wider preparation of An Garda Síochána for the implementation of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017, due to begin in 2020, and will run at Cabra and Tralee Garda stations until the end of the year.
Chief Superintendent Matthew Nyland, Crime Legal said:
This initiative is part of the ongoing commitment of An Garda Síochána to respect the human, constitutional, and equality of treatment rights of the deaf community in Ireland.
Elaine Grehan of the Irish Deaf Society, who is also a member of the deaf community, said access to IRIS in Garda stations will be greatly beneficial to deaf people.
"By providing this service, there will be a shift in integrating the deaf community into mainstream society. This will give deaf people independence and responsibility in ensuring they are capable and confident in important tasks such as reporting crimes or making statements".
The pilot is an initiative in partnership with the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin and Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS).