1,000 signatures reached
To: Regina Doherty TD - Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection
We want to work - make workplaces accessible!
Make workplaces accessible for people with disabilities!
Why is this important?
Do you think that it is fair that Deaf community in Ireland can simply thrive in the UK with the provision of Access To Work Scheme funded by the British Government, but not here in Ireland?
In the UK, Access to Work Scheme gives a wide range of reasonable accommodation such as sign language interpreters in the workplace, note-takers for meetings, and different supports that Deaf individuals may need. This scheme would not just benefit the Deaf community but all people with disabilities. People with disabilities are diverse including physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental health and with the Access to Work Scheme, people with disabilities in the UK are thriving too with supports they need. This scheme in the UK has proved to be economically beneficial, that for every £1 spent on ATW, £1.48 is recouped by the government, as more people are in employment and not on dependent on the government welfare system.
Unfortunately, there is no such scheme like that here in Ireland. Deaf community face severe barriers and discrimination in the workplace here. Deaf people are 2-4 times more likely to be unemployed than their hearing peers.
Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the first and/or preferred language of Deaf community, of at least 5,000 Deaf people. As English is a second language for most of these Deaf people, there is significant difficulty in the workplace in terms of access. We regularly experience the effects of restricted access to supports, services and opportunities in the workplace including interviews.
In Ireland, those majority of Deaf people, who are currently working have been in low-paid and low-status jobs with little hope of promotion. They tend to stay in their workplace for the long-term, rather than change jobs and achieve their career dream like their hearing peers. Work and paid employment serve to develop a sense of belonging with positive mental health benefits and identification with the wider community. However, Deaf people in Ireland continue to face barriers in employment and experience higher rates of poverty, social exclusion and under-employment. Deaf people get adequate supports in the education system but not in the workplace. The gap needs filling. It's been filled and resolutely proven to work abroad.
In Ireland, employers are obliged to provide reasonable accommodation as long as it doesn't impose a disproportionate burden on the employer. Currently, there are some financial supports such as the Job Interview Interpreter Grant which pays for interpreters at interview and induction period. There is the Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant which only covers equipment and not interpreting costs. There is also the Wage Subsidy Scheme which pays approximately €10,000 towards salary costs of a disabled person who can prove they have a lower productivity level than their peers. A pool of funding is available however deaf employees cannot access this pool of funding to meet the costs needed for interpreting due to systematic barriers. The Reasonable Accommodation Fund by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection needs a major overhaul to allow talented deaf employees to avail of this.
With funding like the Access To Work Scheme, Deaf people can simply thrive here in Ireland where they can contribute and enhance their role through Irish Sign Language interpreting on a daily basis like their hearing peers. This can lead to job promotions and achieving their career dreams. This applies to people with disabilities generally, they can thrive as well with adequate supports.
We always tell our children to follow their dreams and that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. Right now in Ireland, all epsecially young Deaf people don’t always have the opportunity to pursue their dream jobs - not because they’re not able to do them - but because they might not be accessible.
Let’s change that now.
Irish Deaf Youth Association
Irish Deaf Society
National Deaf Women of Ireland
How it will be delivered
Arrange the handover of the petition to the Minister .