Deaf peo­ple face a tidal wave of dis­crim­i­na­tion com­pared to speak­ers of Ul­ster-Scots and Ir­ish

Belfast Telegraph - - LETTERS -

IMAG­INE grow­ing up in your own home city and not be­ing able to use your na­tive lan­guage at the post of­fice or when you visit the den­tist or doc­tor. Imag­ine hav­ing to rely on a fam­ily mem­ber to trans­late for you, even when in hospi­tal. 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, it would have taken the needs of the deaf com­mu­nity se­ri­ously, but ap­par­ently not.

Look at how it has have al­lo­cated roles to the two lan­guage of­fi­cers. One post looks af­ter the needs of Ir­ish speak­ers, and re­quires flu­ency in both spo­ken and writ­ten Ir­ish.

By con­trast, for ap­pli­cants for the other lan­guage of­fi­cer post, which sup­pos­edly caters for the need of users of sign lan­guage, there is no re­quire­ment that they can com­mu­ni­cate in sign lan­guage, ei­ther Bri­tish Sign Lan­guage (BSL) or Ir­ish Sign Lan­guage (ISL).

Some­one who wants to talk to the Ir­ish lan­guage of­fi­cer about the needs of the Ir­ish lan­guage com­mu­nity will be 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.

The needs of the deaf com­mu­nity are less vis­i­ble due to com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fi­cul­ties, but it is shock­ing that, just be­cause the deaf have not taken to the streets to protest, their needs are vir­tu­ally ig­nored by our elected coun­cil­lors.

ARNOLD CAR­TON

Belfast

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