Belfast Telegraph

Sign language is needed more than Irish: TUV's Allister

By Suzanne Breen

TUV leader Jim Allister has said Northern Ireland needs a Sign Language Act rather than legislation for Irish.

Speaking after meeting members of the British Deaf Association at Stormont, Mr Allister said the needs of the hearing impaired were "much more pressing" than those of Irish speakers.

"These are people who - unlike Irish speakers - don't have the luxury of a second language to communicate," he said. "There is a clear and pressing need to focus on the development of sign language services. In Northern Ireland sign language provision falls far short of that in other parts of the UK."

Mr Allister explained that in Scotland, legislation requires ministers to develop a national plan for British Sign Language (BSL).

"It places an obligation on public sector bodies to prepare and publish their own plans with the aim of increasing awareness of BSL and its use in the delivery of services," he said.

"The TUV strongly believes we should bring in similar legislation in Northern Ireland and address the real needs of people who have been failed and let down by the powers that be."

The Department for Communities last year held a public consultation which included proposals to ensure the hearing impaired had the same rights, opportunities and quality of life as other citizens. No action has been taken because of the collapse of Stormont.

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