The Case for Sign Bilingualism in Irish Deaf Education

Authors

  • Noel O'Connell Trinity College Dublin

Keywords:

Sign bilingualism, deaf education, deaf communities, sign language, deaf children

Abstract

Sign bilingual education, for the purpose of this article, is defined as a program at primary or secondary school where sign language is used as the first language of instruction with spoken/written language (e.g. English) as the second language (Knoors et al., 2014). International research on sign bilingual education has been on the rise over the last twenty years to the extent that researchers can no longer ignore its importance in an Irish context. The aim of this article is to establish whether or not a case should be made for sign bilingual education in Ireland. Based on a review of international literature, the article begins by discussing the historical development of sign bilingualism. It then discusses each of the key objectives for such a programme outlined in Marschark et al. (2014): (1) the promotion of first (sign) language acquisition to support literacy and numeracy skills in the second (spoken) language; (2) to use an accessible, visual language as a way to unlock the curriculum for deaf students; (3) to improve proficiency in the written and spoken language of the majority population; (4) to enhance deaf children’s social, emotional and positive identity development and their academic achievement. The study concludes with the argument that, although empirical evidence is limited, there are sufficient grounds for promoting a debate on sign bilingual education at policy level in Ireland.  

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Published

2021-11-23

How to Cite

O’Connell, N. (2021). The Case for Sign Bilingualism in Irish Deaf Education. TEANGA, the Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, 28, 202-222. Retrieved from https://journal.iraal.ie/index.php/teanga/article/view/1275

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Section

Articles