Galway City celebrated International Week of the Deaf from 19th to 25th September to highlight issues faced by the deaf community in Galway.
Among these issues is unemployability, which especially affects them because of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. This week is also celebrated as Irish Sign Language (ISL) awareness week in Ireland.
The cost of equipment for deaf people is of particular concern. For example, a normal smoke alarm would cost 10 euros for others would cost around 400 euros for deaf people because of the special equipment they would need. Adding to this is the education system in Ireland which does not train them for job opportunities.
The Galway Deaf Centre located in Middle Street Galway City works to raise funds for deaf people so they have better access. Chime, a charity for the deaf, also works to make Galway a better place for those hard of hearing.
The authority in Chime said that the education system failed a lot of deaf people and that they are underrepresented at the university level. “In terms of the general population (of deaf people) there are lots of barriers. There are pragmatic barriers. Even when sometimes jobs are advertised in the newspaper they just give their phone number,” he said. “A small percentage of deaf people are doing very well and have high level high paying jobs but a lot of deaf people have been failed by the education system so they’re in low-paid jobs.”
The Irish government passed the Irish sign language in 2017, but people, deaf and otherwise, are not aware of their rights and responsibilities under this Act.
The Irish Deaf Society (IDS) undertook many events during this week. The City Hall in Galway City turned blue to honour the deaf community, and RTE also ran Irish Sign Language programmes throughout the week.