Calls for Cork candidates to engage with deaf community

Calls for Cork candidates to engage with deaf community
Senator Jerry Buttimer, left, during a talk in relation to the Irish sign language recognition campaign, at Cork Deaf Club, MacCurtain Street, with club chairman Graham O'Shea.Picture: David Keane.

Deaf campaigners in Cork have said that it’s difficult for people in the community to engage with the upcoming general election.

They’ve said there are accessibility difficulties, such as multimedia material that is not subtitled, and live streams with no interpreter.

Pointing to hustings and public meetings in Cork and around the country, Graham O’Shea, Cork Deaf Club chairperson said that “no consideration will be given to Deaf constituents who, as much as anyone else, want to find out their local candidates’ views and plans.” Door to door canvassing is also an issue, they say, as often it’s not possible to engage with canvassers.

“Some canvassers have been known to get spooked when they encounter Deaf people on the doorstep, thrusting a leaflet into their hand, and hot footing it to the next house,” Me O’Shea claimed.

“With such a limited time to campaign candidates are under pressure, and so most are unlikely to make time to engage in a meaningful way with a small community like ours. The onus falls on us, therefore, for example through the Cork Deaf Club, to try and arrange accessible events. But even at that, the level of engagement from politicians and political parties will not be the same,” he added.

The Irish Deaf Society is calling for support from those elected to ensure that the €5m announced for work supports for the deaf and hard of hearing will be allocated, and they’ve also called for the new Government to support the legal commencement of the ISL Act in 2020.

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