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Written Answers. - Sign Language Interpreters.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 229. Mr. Dennehy Information on John Dennehy Zoom on John Dennehy  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  if he will consider proposals to increase the number of persons qualified as sign language interpreters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24769/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey My Department announced the establishment of the Irish Centre for Deaf Studies in University of Dublin, Trinity College, in June 2000. The centre was established to offer courses to improve communication between the deaf and hearing communities and to enhance the employment prospects for members of the deaf community. An initial core function of the centre was to train qualified interpreters to address the shortage of skilled personnel in this field. The centre was established by Trinity College during 2001, with the first students being admitted in October 2001.

The number of Irish Sign Language (ISL/English) interpreters in Ireland will more than treble from 20 to 65 interpreters over the first five years from the establishment of this centre. For the first time in Ireland, there is now an annual intake of students who will train as ISL tutors and interpreters. It also offers deaf students an opportunity to confidently experience third level education using ISL as their primary language for communication in the classroom.

The proposal submitted by Trinity College to the Higher Education Authority in 1998 envisaged that the Centre for Deaf Studies would introduce three two-year full-time undergraduate diploma courses in ISL/English interpreting, design and delivery of ISL courses, and deaf studies. The first two of these courses were introduced in October 2001 and the third in October 2002. Each course has a quota of ten students but in view of the acute shortage of ISL/English interpreters 15 students were admitted to the interpreting course in its first year.

I am not aware of any proposals to increase the number of places available on these courses.

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