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Fergal Feehely

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Construction Industry Federation

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  Fergal Feehely
If you work hard and produce excellent quality work you will never be quiet.

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Deaf / Hearing Impaired
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Irish Sign Language version of NCSE pamphlet "Information for Parents/Guardians of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children". PDF Version available below

Deaf / Hearing Impaired

What is Deafness / Hearing Impairment?

Deafness or Hearing impairment is when your hearing is affected by a disease, disorder or injury.

There are two main types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss - where sounds are unable to pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, often as the result of a blockage, such as earwax or a build-up of fluid
  • Sensorineural hearing loss - the sensitive hair cells inside the cochlea, or the auditory nerve, are damaged, either naturally through ageing, or as the result of an injury.

Sometimes, both types of hearing loss may occur at the same time - mixed hearing loss.

Hearing impairment is a common condition. It is estimated that in Ireland 17% of the population have some sort of hearing loss. Each year in Ireland, around 100 babies are born with a significant hearing impairment.

Deafness or hearing loss in babies and young children is generally discovered through the child developmental checks carried out by the public health nurse on all Irish babies in the local health centre at 9 months, 18 months and two years of age.


Hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the greater the potential effect on a child's development. Similarly, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention commences, the lesser the ultimate impact.

The affects of deafness/hearing loss can include:

  • Delayed development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language)
  • Language deficit can lead to learning problems, resulting in reduced academic achievement
  • Communication difficulties may lead to social isolation and low self esteem
  • Potential impact on vocational choices

Learning Tips and  Strategies

When working with students with deafness/hearing loss: 

  • Encourage them to identify their own strengths and needs for assistance where possible. This will serve them well in school and in their future
  • Allow frequent short breaks as they will typically have to concentrate more in class than their peers with normal hearing, and may tire more easily
  • Phrase questions carefully and use the student’s name beforehand
  • Place deliberate emphasis on important instructions or keywords.
  • Support verbal instruction with written - e.g on the whiteboard, blackboard, or flipchart
  • Rephrase and repeat difficult words, but avoid over-pronunciation or exaggeration
  • Provide visual cues to clarify what is being said
  • Use visual resources such as computer programmes, DVDs, PowerPoint, to help with learning
  • Pace oral lessons appropriately
  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace
  • Supply photocopied notes where a student finds dictation difficult 
  • Modify text and simplify language where necessary
  • Lively gestures and facial expressions will aid comprehension
  • Short phrases are easier to understand than single words. Group information to assist memory and for revision purposes
  • Avoid blocking visual access to face through hand movements/books.

Supports available

There are 3 schools for students with hearing impairment and special classes attached to some mainstream schools. The special classes have a pupil/teacher ratio of 7:1. There is an enhanced subvention and grant aid towards special equipment.

There is a weekly home tuition Irish Sign Language Support Scheme for deaf pre-school children and deaf schoolgoing pupils to provide training in Irish Sign Language (ISL) for these children, their siblings and parents.

At Primary Education Level:

Visiting Teacher Service - If your child has special educational needs resulting from hearing difficulties or visual impairment, you can access the Visiting Teacher Service of the Department of Education and Skills from the time your child is two years old. This service provides teaching and support to parents and schools.

The visiting teacher will travel to meet you and your child, and other professionals who are involved with your child. If your child is visually impaired, you may refer them to the Visiting Teacher Service yourselves as parents, or they may be referred through an eye clinic or the National Council for the Blind.

If your child is deaf or hard of hearing, they may be referred through the HSE’s audiology services, through hospital services or the Cochlear Implant Unit at Beaumont Hospital. Your child can also be referred by their school or the HSE area in which they live. Each visiting teacher is responsible for a particular region and is allocated a caseload of pupils. The visiting teacher will continue to provide guidance and support for your child throughout their education, up to and including third level. Assistive technology is an example of the supports that the visiting teacher can provide, where necessary.

Sign language interpreters
Sign language interpretation is used in various situations to facilitate communication between deaf and hearing people. These include medical appointments, job interviews, meetings, conferences and education. The Sign Language Interpreting Service is the national agency for the provision of sign language interpreters.

Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS)
Hainault House,
The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
Tel/Minicom: (01) 413 9670 or Mobile: 087 980 6996
Fax: (01) 413 9677

At Secondary Education Level

A student who has been receiving special education support or resources while in Primary School is eligible for continuation of support at secondary level, once they continue to have a special educational need.

The same general provisions he/she received in primary school apply at Secondary Level. This typically includes specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Special Education Resource teacher (both now referred to as Special Education teachers).

This support is provided based on need, with the number of hours of support determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school.

At Third Level and Further Education

Deafness/Hard of Hearing is one of the disabilities covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system. 

DARE - Disability Access Route to Education - School leavers who are Deaf /Hard of Hearing and are under 23 years old (at 1st January of the application year) can apply for a college place through DARE:

Applicants complete the CAO application by 17.15pm on 1st February. CAO opens for applications on 5th November at 12.00 noon. See

By 1st March, applicants must answer YES to Question 1 ('Do you wish to be considered for DARE?') on Section A of the Supplementary Information Form (the SIF is a part of your CAO application). 

Applicants who are Deaf/hard of Hearing are required to provide:

Evidence of their disability - Evidence of Disability Form 2016 OR Existing report (DARE does not accept reports from high street retailers - see full details fro acceptable reportsAND

Educational Impact Statement - must be completed by the applicant and your School Principal, Teacher or Guidance Counsellor and returned to the CAO by 17.15pm on 1st April.

Full details of the DARE screening criteria are available here.

Students should refer to the detailed DARE application criteria and procedures which are outlined here.

Research findings from AHEAD released in 2015 show that, of the total disabled student population (9,694) at Third Level 2013/14 represented in the research, 271 (2.5%) are Deaf / Hearing Impaired. The full report is available here.

Common Educational Supports - a range of common educational supports are in place at Third Level for students with specific learning difficulties. These include:

  • Priority registration
  • Reader service
  • Use of audio-tape to record lectures and tutorials
  • Assistive technology
  • Materials in alternative formats
  • Word-processing facilities
  • Photocopying Facilities 
  • Copies of lecturer's notes and/or overheads 
  • Notetaker
  • Time extension on out-of-lecture assignments
  • Special Library Arrangements
  • Counselling and Medical Services
  • Study skills courses
  • Examination provisions 

These and other supports available are outlined in detail in our 'Third Level Supports' area.

In the Workplace

Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups.  Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.

Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant (WEAG)

If you are a person with a disability who has been offered employment or are in employment, and require a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do your job, you or your employer may be able to get a grant towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment. Details of WEAG grants available and how to apply are available here.

Impact on Career Choice

Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.

For the person with Deafness/Hearing loss, career opportunities that were non- existent even 10 years ago have opened up a wide range of possibilities - from the many new and evolving IT and computer based jobs, to areas of Healthcare, Law, Engineering, and entrepreneurship.

Very few jobs require perfect hearing. A good question to ask yourself in considering your career area of choice might be "Is good hearing critical to perform this job?" Chances are, the answer is no.

  • Technology based jobs - computer programming, systems analysts, system engineer, software developer and network administrator. Many of these positions do not require college degrees, but experience, training and certification through examination can often qualify an employee to earn high salaries. There is currently a huge deficit in locating qualified workers to fill these types of jobs, making IT jobs one of the most in demand and highest paying career choices for both Deaf and hearing individuals.
  • Website developer - ideal for the person who prefers to work in a slower paced environment, and the work can be done remotely, often even at home
  • Careers such as accounting and tax professionals - large companies offer training in the professional areas
  • With the development of advanced medical technology from stethoscopes for the Deaf, to overhead screens in operating rooms for communicating during surgery, the way is being paved for Deaf individuals to pursue careers as doctors or other healthcare providers. There is a severe lack of Deaf or hard of hearing employees in this field, a topic is of great concern in the Deaf community and efforts are being made to change this trend. Nursing, speech pathology, audiology, sonography, and X-ray technicians are all fields in which Deaf people can train and operate successfully
  • The Arts, including performing arts, music interpretation, dance, theatre, graphics, and computer game design. These jobs are easily filled by Deaf individuals who enjoy performing in front of audiences, displaying artwork in galleries, or for the gaming enthusiast who refuses to grow up! Being Deaf would have little or no impact on the ability to excel in these careers.  Confidence is a major factor for many Deaf individuals in obtaining the courage needed to pursue many positions that might otherwise be filled by Hearing individuals. (Source: Career trends for the Deaf)


New communication devices and music technology is becoming available all the time. Today’s hearing aids are like a high end stereo system crossed with a sophisticated computer. Hearing aids can automatically focus in on sound from the front, have noise cancellation capability, or can switch so that the sound is heard better in the car, for music, or other programs tailored to the individual person’s listening situations. Having an FM system paired with the hearing aids is like a personal listening assistant. A student doesn’t have to hear through all the noise his classmates do to pick up the teacher’s voice from across the room. He can hear her as though she is talking right next to him.

Hearing aids and FM are technologies that give teenagers an edge. International studies show that the use of hearing aids and FM can reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77% for those with severe to moderate hearing loss.

Useful Links
Information Guide for Parents/Guardians of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Young people 
Information Publication from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
SESS - Special Education Support Service - Hearing Impairment 
Description of Hearing Impairment from the Department of Education's Special Education Support Service.
Irish Deaf Society 
10 Commandments for communicating with a Deaf Person
Irish Deaf Women's Group - IDWG 
voluntary and non-profit representative organisation that aims to empower Deaf women and to bring about equality among Deaf Women. 
National charity providing specialist services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and their families.
HSE Ireland - Deafness 
HSE Ireland health information portal - detailed information on deafness.
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance