“2020 was an extremely difficult year for all, including Ireland’s Deaf community. SLIS Sign Language Interpreting Service worked hard to continue to provide a vital lifeline for Deaf citizens linking them and service providers to quality ISL interpreting through our referral service, GP access, and the Irish Remote Interpreting Service (IRIS)” Caroline McGrotty, Chairperson of SLIS – Sign Language Interpreting Service, said at the SLIS AGM.
“The commitment of SLIS staff in keeping all services working remotely during the COVID pandemic has been commendable” Caroline McGrotty highlighted. “It is timely to take a proactive approach to consolidating on success to date by fostering stable services for Ireland’s Deaf Community including secure staffing and resourcing arrangements.”
In launching the SLIS annual report 2020, Caroline McGrotty also thanked the SLIS board and CIB for their efforts in difficult circumstances and looked forward to continuing a shared journey to fuller social inclusion for Ireland’s Deaf community and enhanced interpreting services.
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John Stewart, National Manager SLIS,
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Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) was established in 2007 through the Citizens Information Board. Our vision is to ensure that Deaf people live as full and equal citizens
SLIS works to enhance easy access to high quality sign language interpreting to public, social and other services relevant to the everyday lives of Deaf citizens who are users of ISL, through the provision of core SLIS services.
In 2021, IRIS and CIB piloted a bespoke software application for IRIS, which is currently being evaluated.
SLIS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board
The Deaf community of 5,000 Irish Sign Language users need Irish Sign Language interpreting to facilitate access to public information and commercial services. Deaf ISL users are 3 times more likely to have no formal education or to have primary education as their highest education level. The participation rate of Deaf in the labour force is 58%, but there is an unemployment rate of 25% – three times the national average. The Irish Deaf Society estimates 80% of the Deaf community who have ISL as their first language have significant literacy difficulties in English. This Deaf ISL community tell us that
 Irish Deaf Society website www.irishdeafsociety.ie see also CIB Report 2019, Oireachtas report 2016
 Census 2011, Central Statistics Office Dublin.
Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the sign language of Ireland’s deaf community. ISL is a visual language with its own linguistic structures, syntax and characteristics. Just as spoken languages differ from country to country, ISL is different to French, Spanish or British sign languages. It is an indigenous, dynamic and beautiful language, central to the Deaf culture and Deaf identity of this country. ISL is the first language of many of Ireland’s Deaf community and it is their preferred means of communication. ISL should never be considered a lesser or compensatory language and the Deaf community celebrated the state’s recognition of the language in 2020 through the ISL Act and the ratification of the UNCRPD. ,
IRIS provides an online video link to an ISL / English interpreter using video link software applications (e.g. Skype for Business, Zoom). IRIS began with a pilot scheme in January 2011 as collaboration between three Deaf organisations – the Irish Deaf Society (IDS), Chime and Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS). The IRIS interpreter joins a meeting by video link and translates between ISL and spoken English for the participants. The Deaf person and the service provider need decent internet access, webcam and speakers to use IRIS. The service is supported and funded by the Citizens Information Board.