DEAF people in Cork have raised concerns about the possible closure of the Irish Deaf Society.
The Irish Deaf Society (IDS) is facing closure by the end of March if core funding is not secured.
A year on since the passing of the Irish Sign Language Act, the organisation that led the campaign for ISL recognition for more than 30 years has enough finances to last just the next two months.
The IDS is calling on the government to find an appropriate body to fund it so that the organisation can continue to work for the deaf community.
“We are seriously concerned about the future of the IDS,” said Graham O’Shea, Chairperson of Cork Deaf Club.
“The IDS focuses on issues such as achieving equality and access for deaf people, and it’s unique in that it is the only organisation that uses ISL as its first language, without the need for interpreters.
“We don’t know what we’d do without it,” he added.
The IDS provides a range of services to the deaf community around the country, including the administration of the home tuition scheme which provides ISL classes to deaf children and their families, and the Deaf Adult Literacy Services which runs classes for deaf adults.
Driving theory test classes were also on offer in Cork until recently when they had to be discontinued due to the IDS’s financial difficulties.
Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (SF) has called on the Department of Justice & Equality to step in and ensure the Irish Deaf Society does not collapse.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire met with the Cork Deaf Club last week to discuss the possible closure of the IDS.
“The closure of this vital service would be devastating to the deaf community,” he said.
“It is shocking that the IDS which provides such fantastic services and supports to deaf people is not getting adequate funding.
“It is particularly incredible given services should be being enhanced after official recognition of Irish Sign Language,” he added.
Speaking in a Dáil debate last week, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Catherine Byrne, said that CHIME, the national charity for deafness and hearing loss, received significant core funding from the HSE of €6.7 million in 2018.
“The Irish Deaf Society, on the other hand, focuses its service delivery on advocacy and training and development, as distinct from the delivery of services and social care supports to deaf communities.
“For this reason, the Irish Deaf Society does not receive core funding from the HSE,” she explained.