Introduction Irish Sign Language teacher. I will firstly discuss

Introduction

In this
assignment I will talk about the Access to teacher training courses for Deaf
people. I will speak about the opportunities there are for Deaf people to
become a Primary school teacher, a Secondary school teacher or a qualified
Irish Sign Language teacher. I will firstly discuss how difficult it is for
Deaf people to become Primary school teachers in Ireland due to two reasons;
the requirement of the Irish language and, the fitness to practice medical exam.
I will discuss these two barriers in further detail. I will also explain Dr
Elizabeth Mathews role in removing the requirement of the Irish language and I
will outline the three ideas which she came up with to remove this barrier. I
will do some research on how Deaf people can become secondary school teachers
without, unlike primary school teaching, any barriers holding them back.
Furthermore, I will speak about the Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College
Dublin, a Level 8 degree which can give Deaf, Hard of Hearing and also Hearing
students the opportunity to become a qualified ISL teacher. This gives them the
option to teach evening classes, teach ISL to transition year classes and also
become involved in ISL home tuition scheme which I will discuss later in this
assignment. I will also investigate why it is important to provide Deaf
teachers for Deaf children instead of Hearing teachers. In this assignment, I hope
to figure out how accessible it is for Deaf people to become teachers.

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Primary
school teaching

Currently it is very
difficult for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to become primary school teachers
in the Republic of Ireland. (Deaf Education Centre, 2017) This is due to a
number of reasons. According to (Mathews, 2011) the Irish Deaf population are
left out from initial teacher education (ITE), therefore cannot become a
primary school teacher. (Deaf Education Centre, 2017) states that Many Deaf
schools lack culturally Deaf people whose first language is Irish Sign
Language. This means that these schools are staffed by hearing teachers who may
not have a fluency in ISL.  There are two
obstacles which Deaf and Hard of Hearing people face if they want to become a
Primary school teacher in Ireland. The first one being the requirement of a
Higher level C3 in Irish in the Leaving Certificate , this is quite difficult
for the Deaf population as Deaf students are exempt from studying Irish,
meaning a majority of Deaf people will not learn the language (Deaf Education
Centre, 2017).  Therefore, making it very
difficult for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person to become a primary school
teacher. According to (Mathews, 2011) teachers are not required to have fluency
in the Irish language if they want to teach in the Deaf education sector;
therefore the requirement of the Irish language to study to become a teacher is
quite contradictory. Another reason
how it’s difficult for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to become a primary
school teacher is that students have to pass the fitness to practise medical
examination when they finish their teacher training course in order to enter
the career of being a teacher (Deaf Education
Centre, 2017). To become a primary school teacher in the Republic of Ireland everyone
must complete a pre-employment questionnaire. There are many aspects to this
questionnaire, one being a question which asks of the individual has any ear disorders
e.g. deafness, tinnitus (Mathews,
2011) According to (AHEAD, 2012) it is almost impossible for a person with a
disability such as Deafness to become a primary school teacher or even access
teacher training, due to these barriers. These barriers are not giving the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing people of Ireland the same opportunities as their peers. These
barriers may make the Deaf community feel quite isolated as they do not have
the same opportunities as the Hearing population, therefore not giving them equal
access to education, a basic human right.

Dr Elizabeth Mathews

Dr Elizabeth Matthews
has pointed out the lack of access Deaf people have to teacher training (Dcu.ie,
2016). She has lobbied to make access to teacher training courses for deaf
people easier and give those the same opportunities as their hearing peers. Dr
Mathews is currently working with the Higher Education Authority and DCU to
make the Bachelor of Education degree in DCU available for Deaf people who have
a fluency in Irish Sign Language (Dcu.ie, 2017). Her ultimate goal is to make
teacher training for Deaf people as accessible as it is for Hearing people. She
has come up with three ways to remove the Irish language barriers for Deaf
people who want to become a primary school teacher. The following options are;  

1.     Removing the necessity of the
Irish language for Deaf
and Hard of Hearing students.

2.     Replacing the requirement of the
Irish language with a fluency of ISL for entry to teacher training for Deaf,
Hard of Hearing and Hearing students. Meaning students will have a choice to do
ISL and/or Irish and will be required to get an honour in either ISL or Irish. For
this to happen, ISL will have to become a leaving cert subject.

3.      Have a Bachelor
of Education ISL Entry Route programme, which does not provide the requirement
of the Irish language at all.

(Mathews, 2011)

These are three ideas
which Dr Elizabeth Mathews has come up with to make teacher training courses
more available to the Deaf community of Ireland. She hopes to give Deaf people
the same equal opportunities as the hearing population of Ireland, therefore
not discriminating against Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who wish to partake
in in Teacher training courses.

Secondary school
teaching

There are currently
two universities in Ireland which provide aid and support for students who are
Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University.
Trinity College Dublin will provide Deaf students whose main mode of
communication is Irish Sign Language an interpreter to ensure these students
have the same opportunity as their hearing classmates (Tcd.ie, 2017). This
means any Deaf or Hard of Hearing students can study whichever course they want
as long as they have the entry requirements e.g. enough points in their exams.
Trinity College Dublin offer a Professional
Master in Education, this is a qualification that’s required if you want to
work as a secondary school teacher in the Republic of Ireland (Tcd.ie, 2017). (Tcd.ie, 2017) states that
applications must have a previous qualification to qualify for this degree.
This means that any Deaf person who is a university graduate is eligible for
this Masters in Education. Therefore, being able to become a qualified
Secondary school teacher. Maynooth
University also support students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and will
provide reasonable accommodation for these students. ‘A reasonable
accommodation is any action that helps alleviate a substantial disadvantage’ (Maynooth University Guide for MAP Academic Advisors,
2017), e.g. being Deaf or Hard of Hearing. 
This means that Deaf and Hard of Hearing students will get the same
opportunity as their Hearing classmates. Maynooth University will provide
a qualified Irish Sign Language Interpreter and/ or will provide the student with
written notes (Maynooth University Guide for MAP
Academic Advisors, 2017).  Another
problem which Deaf students may face is difficulty with spelling and grammar.
This can lead to the Deaf student being under a disadvantage when they’re being
assessed in a written examination. For this reason, Maynooth University have Marking Guidelines
which they must follow when marking scripts for these particular students notes
(Maynooth University Guide for MAP Academic
Advisors, 2017). Maynooth University offer a Master’s degree in Education as
well as Trinity. This courses aim is to provide high quality teachers to teach
in Irelands secondary schools (Maynoothuniversity.ie,
2017). Similar to Trinity College, any student who has a previous
qualification, including Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, can study this
degree. Having qualified ISL interpreters to support these students in
universities open many doors for Deaf students and make it more accessible to
become secondary school teachers even if the student is Deaf or Hard of
Hearing.

Centre for
Deaf Studies

The Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity
College Dublin offers students the chance to study a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf
Studies. The CDS is open to Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing students and
there is no previous ISL knowledge required (Tcd.ie,
2017). This ensures that all students can get equal access to education.
One of the aims of this course according to (Tcd.ie,
2017) is to provide the highest quality ISL teacher training. This gives Deaf
students the opportunity to become qualified ISL teachers. With this degree
qualified teachers get the opportunity to teach evening classes to adults who
are looking to learn ISL as a second language, in secondary schools with
transition year students, or one on one with deaf children and their families (Tcd.ie,
2017). This one on one teaching is known as the ISL home tuition scheme. This ISL home tuition scheme is a
weekly tuition service where a tutor will visit the home of a Deaf or Hard of
Hearing child and provide the child, their sibling(s) and parent(s)/guardian(s)
the opportunity to learn ISL (Education.ie, 2017). Deaf students in this course may require a
professional ISL interpreter to assist them in classes where sign is not the main
mode of communication between the students and the interpreter.

Why is it important
to have Deaf teachers?

‘Deaf teachers feel
the need to teach deaf children ”how to be deaf” in this world’ (Kusters, De
Meulder and O’Brien, 2017) this helps the Deaf children learn how to handle
life in a hearing majority world. A majority deaf and hard of hearing people have a fluency in
ISL and have a great knowledge and understanding of deaf culture and therefore would
bring many important qualities to the teaching of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children
(Education Policy for
Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in Ireland, 2009). One of the qualities is,
they can be great role models for the Deaf children. They work against the
negative attitude which is often held against Deaf people. Deaf teachers prove
to Deaf children that their Deafness does not hold them back in life and they
can train to become a teacher if they want. As Deaf teachers are usually
involved within the Deaf community, they will be able to inform their Deaf
students about events that are going on within the Deaf community (Kusters, De
Meulder and O’Brien, 2017), the teachers act as a link for the Deaf student
into the Deaf world, this is another advantage which a Deaf teacher may hold
over hearing teacher. Involving the Deaf pupil with the Deaf community gives
the pupil a chance to make friends with other Deaf children. Deaf teachers have
the power to make both hearing students and colleagues Deaf aware and can
influence them to show more acceptance towards Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.
(Kusters, De Meulder and O’Brien, 2017)  Deaf teachers are also important as they can
teach Deaf children how to communicate with hearing people who may not know any
sign language, (Kusters, De Meulder and O’Brien, 2017) give us examples of how
they do this, such as writing notes back and forth, using gestures e.g.
pointing at objects etc… Overall, it is very beneficial for Deaf students to
have a Deaf teacher due to these many reasons.

 

 

Conclusion

In
conclusion, we see that although it may be difficult sometimes, there are few
opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to become teachers. Firstly,
we learnt that it is very difficult for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to
become Primary school teachers, due to the requirement of the Irish language,
which Deaf and Hard of Hearing students are exempt from in both Primary school
and Secondary school. I researched Dr Elizabeth Mathews and discovered that she
is lobbying to get rid of the requirement of the Irish language and proposed
three ways in which teacher training courses can offer their courses to Deaf
and Hard of Hearing people to give them equal access. In summary, these three
options are; to abolish the requirement of the Irish Language for Deaf or Hard
of Hearing students wishing to partake in the course, to give students, both
hearing and Deaf, the opportunity to get entry into the course by acquiring a
honour in either the Irish language or Irish Sign language – this means that
ISL will have to be made into a secondary school subject which it is currently
not, and having an ISL entry route for Deaf and Hard of hearing students.
Currently none of these options are available to Deaf and Hard of Hearing
students who wish to become a primary school teacher. As it happens, there is a
better opportunity for Deaf or Hard of Hearing people to become secondary
school teachers, this is because there are no barriers preventing Deaf and Hard
of Hearing people from studying such degrees. Maynooth University and Trinity
College Dublin provide their students with qualified ISL interpreters if they
are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Both of these universities have Master degrees in
Education, meaning any student who has graduated from any university course can
do a master in education and become a secondary school teacher. Thus, giving
Deaf or Hard of Hearing people the same opportunity, in regards to Secondary
school teaching, as the Hearing population. 
The Centre for Deaf Studies offers
students the chance to study a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies. Here students
can study to become a qualified teacher. With this degree, students can teach;
ISL evening courses, transition year classes, one on one, and become involved in
the ISL home tuition scheme. Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing people can study
this degree. Lastly, I focused on why it is important to have Deaf teachers. This
is due to a number of reasons, the main one being the fact that they are great role
models for Deaf students and many students may feel like they can relate to their
teacher. Overall, there is some access to teacher training courses for Deaf
people, but there are still some barriers Deaf and Hard of Hearing people face
therefore not giving them the same opportunities as Hearing students.