Signs of DCU enabling deaf people to become primary teachers

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The launch if the ISL pathway into primary has been in progress for over seven years. Image Credit: Roise McGagh

DCU’s Institute of Education introduced an entry route that will enable people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment to become primary school teachers.

The entry route will facilitate those who are deaf or hard of hearing and want to become primary school teachers  by providing the Bachelor of Education programme through Irish Sign Language (ISL).

“I have to say I was delighted when I heard,” said Deanna Cairns, a spokesperson from the organisation Happy New Ear.

Deanna is the mother of a child who is deaf and added that “the more ISL around the better.”

“The numbers of students using ISL in primary schools is quite small, but since there has been no avenue into teaching for deaf people who use ISL before this, there is a lot of interest in the pathway,” said lecturer with the School of Inclusive and Special Education, Elizabeth Matthews.

There is an estimated 70 to 140 children who will be diagnosed with a hearing impairment each year following universal new-born hearing screening, according to the HSE’s National Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.

The degree offers job prospects to those with hearing impairment but also provides trained professionals who will be able to teach children with similar hearing difficulties with the skills of every other graduate in the B.Ed course.

“Deaf and hard of hearing children should be able to leave school with levels of educational attainment that are on a par with their hearing peers of similar ability,” stated Chief Executive Teresa Griffin in the forward to the 2011 National Council for Special Education’s (NCSE) seminal policy document on deaf education.

DCU’s pathway offers an opportunity to become a primary school teacher to those who were exempt from Irish but could converse in ISL. Usually, a higher level C3 in Irish is a requirement to study the B. Ed programme.

The course has been in development since 2011, however, this new pathway is currently being launched on a pilot basis from September. If successful, the course will officially be available to incoming students in 2023 on wards.

There has been no specialist course to train teachers how to educate deaf children since UCD stopped providing one in 2002.

Although this pathway is specifically designated to those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, core modules will be delivered while studying the B.Ed through this entry route with the addition of some modules specific to deaf education which will be delivered as a specialism.

The four-year, full-time undergraduate course also includes a 30-week school placement.

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Illustration Credit: Roise McGagh