The Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill 2016 is due to pass through all stages of the Dáil today, 14th December 2017, and become enshrined in law as the Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Act.
The new law will place a clear responsibilities on government funded bodies to provide access to Deaf service users through Irish Sign Language (ISL).
This is a historic day for the Deaf community.
It is also a big step for Ireland as a whole, challenging us to ensure that Deaf citizens participate in society on an equal footing to their hearing peers.
This has been a long journey for the Deaf community that began in the 1980s when FF MEP Eileen Lemass tabled an EU resolution that all member states recognise their national sign languages.
Since that time many EU and non EU countries have done just that, but Ireland has lagged behind.
Finally things are about to change for members of the Irish Deaf community. We are all looking forward to this new era which, hopefully, will bring great improvements in access to all aspects of Irish life, including (but not limited to!) the justice system, healthcare and education.