Access to Primary Teacher Training for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
At present, it is difficult for Deaf people to become primary school teachers in the Republic of Ireland.
Two barriers prevent access to Initial Teacher Education (previously known as primary teacher training) for this group. The first is the declaration of fitness to practice which may either discriminate directly, or indirectly discourage people with disabilities from applying to Colleges of Education. This issue is being dealt with on a larger scale by the Conference of the Heads of Irish Colleges of Education (CHOiCE) and the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD).
The second and more significant barrier is the requirement for higher-level leaving certificate Irish to access ITE. This is a particular anomaly in the context of deaf education given that the majority of deaf and hard of hearing children do not learn Irish in school. As a result, schools for the deaf are frequently staffed by hearing teachers and there is a significant absence of fluent ISL-using Deaf adults working as teachers in that environment. While there have been improvements in the number of deaf teachers at second level, there has been little change in the primary sector. The need for Deaf adults to act as role models both linguistically and socially for deaf and hard of hearing children has been well-documented in the literature.
Bearing this in mind, the Education Partnership Group commissioned Dr. Elizabeth Mathews to research this issue and write a proposal on how access to Initial Teacher Education might be made available to Deaf people. You can view her proposal in detail here: Access to Teacher Training Proposal
Since this proposal was completed, Dr Mathews has taken up the post of coordinator at the Deaf Education Centre. In her role there she continues to work on this and is liaising with the Colleges of Education and the Teaching Council to develop a curriculum for a primary teacher training programme to address this issue.