A CORK family which has campaigned for years for the rights of deaf children to a full education has welcomed the news that new classroom sign-language interpreter positions are to be created.
The parents of Calum Geary, a 13-year-old from Ballyhooly who was born without an auditory nerve and is profoundly deaf, have, with many other parents, fought for years for fully qualified in-classroom interpreters for deaf children.
Calum’s father, Andrew Geary, has frequently highlighted how the lack of a fully qualified in-classroom interpreter was causing Calum, a highly intelligent child, to fall significantly behind his twin brother Donnacha, who has full hearing.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Geary said he and all parents of deaf children would welcome the news that deaf children would now have better access to a full education.
“After seven years of campaigning, which involved a huge amount of stress, and a major commitment both financial and of time, now Calum will hopefully be getting full access to the school curriculum, the same as his hearing twin brother, and this will be the key to him reaching his full potential.”
Mr Geary thanked Taoiseach Micheál Martin for his interest in Calum and other deaf children, and he also thanked Fianna Fáil TD Pádraig O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoighaire, Seanad cathaoirleach Mark Daly, who had championed the ISL Act in the Oireachtas, and Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte.
The Sign Language Act 2017, which made ISL an official Irish language, places a statutory duty on all public bodies to provide free interpretation for all statutory services and entitlements, including education.
An unpublished report, commissioned by Ms Rabbitte and seen by The Echo, found that fewer than 100 children in the State have the same level of deafness as Calum Geary.
It is understood that the new in-classroom ISL interpreter positions, which will be filled by people with a specialised four-year degree, will have a starting salary of approximately €32,000, rising to around €67,000, and will be advertised in the coming weeks.