The language discrimination suffered by our deaf community

Irish language protest in Belfast above in 2017. The deaf, who cannot communicate in English, have not taken to the streets and their needs have been virtually ignored
Irish language protest in Belfast above in 2017. The deaf, who cannot communicate in English, have not taken to the streets and their needs have been virtually ignored

Imagine growing up in your own home city but not being able to use your native language at the post office or when you visit the dentist or the doctor.

Imagine having to rely on a family member to translate for you even when in hospital.

Letters to Editor

Letters to Editor

This is the language discrimination suffered by our deaf community.

We hear a lot about the rights of speakers of Ulster Scots and Irish, but for these people communicating in spoken English is always an option when they need medical attention.

I was hoping that when Belfast City Council decided to appoint two language officers they would have taken the needs of the deaf community seriously but apparently not.

Look at how they have allocated roles to their two language officers.

One post is advertised to look after the needs of Irish speakers and this post requires fluency in both spoken and written Irish. By contrast, applicants for the other language officer post which supposedly caters for the need of users of sign language does not have any requirement that they can communicate in sign language, neither BSL or ISL.

We know that someone who wants to talk to the Irish language officer about the needs of the Irish language community will be perfectly capable of speaking temporarily in English, but most deaf people simply do not have the option of communicating in spoken English.

There is a greater need for one of the officers to have BSL or ISL than there is to have fluent Irish.

It is inevitable that the needs of the deaf community are less visible because of communication difficulties, but it is shocking and utterly disgraceful that just because the deaf have not taken to the streets with protests, their needs are virtually ignored by our elected councillors.

Arnold Carton, Belfast BT6