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25 November 2010 (VOL 8 WEEK 46)

WFD - Invites Submissions for Durban 2011
The World Federation of the Deaf invites submission of abstracts for presentations at its XVI World Congress in Durban South Africa 2011. The official languages of the Congress will be English, South African Sign Language and International Sign. The Organising Committee welcomes abstracts that focus on the theme "Global Deaf Renaissance" from birth to adulthood on the following sub-themes.
  • Developing Countries -
  • "Intelligent Conflict Management"
  • Human Rights -
  • "Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women".
  • "Convention on the Rights of the Child and Youth Programmes".
  • Special Interest Groups -
  • "Deaf Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender".
  • "Deaf Ethic Groups".
  • "CODA - Children of Deaf Adults".
  • "Deafblind".
  • "Sign Language Interpreters".
The closing date for submissions is extended to the 31st of December. For more information, contact Ingrid Parkins at

Outdoor Activities with the ITT
Just a reminder of our last two activities with the Health and Leisure Dept of the Institute of Technology.

We have "High and Low Ropes" on the 24th November at Play at Heights in Dingle. This will be from 9:30 - 11am.

This event will be held outdoors. However if the weather is very bad we will go indoors and do alternative activities. Students from I.T.T. and instructors from Play at Height will be beside participants at all the time and will assist with each activity. Participants will be active for 60-75 minutes.

The last event is "Indoor Climbing Wall" on the 8th of December and this will be held at Play at Heights also.

For both events, participants must have warm clothes, hats, gloves and a rain jacket for outdoor activities. Please bring spare clothes if you need to change immediately after the activity. There is a small snack bar so bring money if you want to buy any snacks in the shop.

Our thanks to the ITT and to the students for including members of our service in these events. We've had a great time at previous events and look forward to the upcoming activities.

Photos from Ethiopia trip
We have uploaded photos from our recent trip to Ethiopia on our Facebook page. If you would like to view them, go to In addition Fr. Monaghan has set up a page on the project - go to and search for Ethiopia Deaf Project.

Bowling Fundraiser in Cork for KODA
You may recall a number of Deaf parents from Ireland attended the KODA conference in the States during the summer. These parents have now have set up a new group called KODA (Kids of Deaf Adults).

The group hopes to run a number of events for Deaf parents and their hearing kids. The 1st event they are holding will be a Bowling Fundraiser. This will be held on the 27th of November in the Planet Entertainment Centre in Blackpool, Cork. It costs €60 for a team of four.

Congratulations to all those involved in KODA and we would like to wish them well with their work and any future KODA events.
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18 November 2010 (VOL 8 WEEK 45)

Update from Deaf Project in Ethiopia
Many of you will know from previous updates, that a group of Irish Deaf people, Mark Mc Caffrey, Denise Dowling, Noeleen Cunningham and Susan O' Callaghan, along with two interpreters from Deaf families Veronica White and Willie White, along with Fr. Stephen Monaghan from the Vincentians flew out to Ambo in Ethiopia. The aim of the trip was to work with the Deaf Community in Ambo and assist them in their efforts to establish a Deaf Centre there. This work is being done in conjunction with the Ambo Vincentian Lay Missionaries.

When we arrived into Addis Ababa, we drove straight to Ambo, a drive of just over 2 hours. The first thing that struck us was the number of people walking along the roadside and the amount of animals too, goats, cows, donkeys and ox's. The scenery was absolutely amazing and very lush. Dotted along the route were traditional huts and shacks and small towns made up of mainly shacks that sold every product imaginable.

When we arrived in Ambo, the Deaf community waved Ethiopian and Irish flags and welcomed us with open hearts. We all embraced and shook hands in a traditional Ethiopian manner. We were all presented with small wild flowers. Later we were invited to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which is considered to be a great honour. This was our first opportunity to get to know the local Deaf, learn about their traditions, culture and sign language. This was also a way for us to give a background on Irish culture; the Deaf community in Ireland and of course our sign language too. We also had a chance to learn about Ethiopian dance and we taught them the Siege of Ennis dance too.

Over the next few days, we arranged a number of full day workshops and were amazed by the turn out. Many people lived nearby in Ambo but many people walked for hours from rural areas. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and share was heart warming.

The workshops were a chance for them to inform us of issues faced by the local community. We had women, men, children, elderly and Deaf with disabilities.

The issues that impact on the community are widespread and include access to shelter, food and clean water, access to education especially for rural Deaf, access to medical services, access to Government services, access to training and employment, access to information and services on HIV/ AIDS, and how to generate income when there is no Government welfare support. Poverty is widespread in the area and this is a major factor for the Deaf community too.

Education is a huge issue. Many Deaf people do not access formal education and may be stopped from going to school by family members due to the stigma of deafness. Many schools have a uniform policy. For poorer families, the cost of a uniform prevents many from going to school. For the lucky ones in Ambo there is a mainstream hearing school with a special needs class. This class has one hearing teacher and one Deaf teacher- both are fluent sign language users. However, these teachers only work in Grade 1 to Grade 4. Thereafter, students in Grade 5 up to Grade 10 have no sign language access and no interpreters. They are isolated in these classrooms and cannot access the education provided there. As a result, many Deaf people fail at this stage and cannot get enough points to enter university. Many students drop out at this stage. If they carry on, the only option is to go onto vocational training. Again, there are no qualified teachers of the Deaf or interpreters here. Students only get through this system if teaching is done through visual methods or through hands-on practical instruction.

After education, there is limited employment opportunities. The Government provides no Social Welfare and as a result poverty is a huge issue for people. Many towns have markets and this is a chance to sell home made products. If Deaf people have skills in hair braiding, carpentry, weaving, food preparation and tailoring- this may be their only way to generate income. However, as the value of the local currency (the Birr) is so low, it’s very difficult to earn enough money to look after yourself and your family.

Even for professionals, it is challenging. We worked with an interpreter who is based in Addis Ababa- he does alot of work in a university and earns the equivalent of €6.50 per week, just over €1 per day. He would consider this a great wage.

There are no interpreters based in Ambo, which makes it impossible for Deaf people to access mainstream services. One of the teachers of the Deaf, Mr. Sisay is the only person that works with Deaf people outside of school services. He has a huge workload ranging from teaching, to advocacy, and to supporting the huge range of issues local and rural Deaf face.

On a positive note- in the past year the Finnish Association of the Deaf have set up a Deaf Women's Empowerment and HIV/AIDS Awareness project in Ambo. This has made a huge difference to Deaf people in Ambo as information is provided by a local Deaf woman. It is critical the information on HIV/AIDS is made accessible to Deaf people on a long-term basis.

Without a local Deaf Centre, the challenges facing the community are enormous. On our last day, we were lucky to meet with the local Lord Mayor and he is very supportive of our project. We looked at a plot of land and the Mayor is now working on signing the land over to us. Once land has been obtained, Fr. Monaghan and the Vincentians hope to apply for overseas aid. If this is successful, a Deaf Centre could be built within 18 months to 2 years. The Centre would have an education room; a training room and a 3rd room for get togethers, food preparation, skills development etc. This would be a major milestone and a major achievement for the Deaf community.

While we were in Ambo, we had the privilege of visiting Deaf people in their homes. This was a huge honour for us all. Again, we were welcome with open arms. The standard of accommodation is very low in Ambo and in the long term, the Deaf project may also look at residential needs of the community. We also got the chance to visit a village, which was built by the Vincentians for people with leprosy. While we did not meet any Deaf people with this condition, this could be an issue for those living in more rural areas. The Centre will enable people access better education, training and employment. It would also offer better access to health services and this could be a life-saving development for many Deaf people in Ambo.

For everyone that supported us with this trip, we would like to say a huge thank you. To Fr. Stephen Monaghan, the Vincentians in Ireland and Ambo and to the Irish team who flew to Ambo- a huge thank you for all your support.

To the Deaf community in Ambo- it was a great honour and privilege to work with you all. Fingers crossed, we will be back in a few years to officially open a Deaf Centre with you all.
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11 November 2010 (VOL 8 WEEK 44)

Hands On is Back
The Deaf magazine television programme, Hands On, will return to your screens on Sunday 14th November, 12.05pm on RTÉ1 for 10 programmes. This is the 15th series of Hands On and once again it promises to be entertaining, enthralling, explorative and educative.

In Week 1 viewers will meet three brave volunteers, nominated by Deaf family and friends to take on the ISL challenge. Can they transform themselves from novices to proficient ISL users in the space of 14 weeks?! Their progress will be shown throughout the series.

There is a new feature: Hands On: Rewind. In this section the programme will return to some of Hands On’s most popular and controversial items over the years, such as government promises about Irish Sign Language recognition, the difficulties for Deaf people trying to contact the emergency services and the landmark case taken by Joan Clarke, challenging the decision to exclude her from Jury Service on the grounds of her Deafness.

Don’t miss it!

Please download 'Hands On press release' in Word Doc Download (size 20KB)

Sign language mass in Cork this week
There will be mass in ISL at the Cork Deaf Association, 5 MacCurtain Street, on Tuesday 9th November at 8pm. Tea/coffee will be provided after the mass.

Are you registered to vote?
City and county councils now allow you to check if you're registered to vote through the online eReg service: www. You can check if your name is on the register and that your details are correct from November 1st to 25th. If there is any incorrect or missing information contact your city or county council immediately using the RFA1 form which you can download from the website.

First address in Sign Language in European Parliament
Deaf European Parliament member, Adam Kosa (Hungary), made his first address to the European Parliament in July 2009. This was the first time that Sign Language was used to address the Parliament by a member

The text of his address is as follows:
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I feel deeply moved as I stand here in the European Parliament as the first Deaf person able to address you in my mother tongue, Hungarian Sign Language.

I do so not only for myself and the Deaf community, but also for every disadvantaged person. I am now beginning to feel that I belong to a European community where even minorities can achieve success. Just take Robert Schuman as an example, who was from Alsace-Lorraine and went on to become the founding father of the EU 50 years ago.

Around the end of the EU’s outgoing Czech Presidency, a turn of events unfortunately took place which I would also like to bring to the attention of the EU's incoming Swedish Presidency. Two weeks ago the Slovak Parliament adopted a regulation which will seriously restrict the rights of the minorities living in that country to use their own language. As a user of sign language, I feel it is my duty to stand up for the rights of people in Europe to use their own language and for the importance of this. This is the reason why I am going to be working here in the European Parliament. However, I want to give a message to every European citizen. I want a Europe where everyone is guaranteed the right to live their life to the full and fulfil their potential. I want a Europe where deaf people represented by me or any person living with a disability, for that matter, really do enjoy equal opportunities. I would like to say a particular word of thanks to Joseph Daul, Chairman of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), for giving me the opportunity to address you on this special day. This also proves that Europe really is about diversity, tolerance and equal opportunities.

To watch his address with a voiceover in English (no subtitles) go to the following website:
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4 November 2010 (VOL 8 WEEK 43)

Trip to Ethiopia
Veronica White and Willie White from our service and a group of four Irish Deaf people are currently in Ambo, Ethiopia working with Fr. Stephen Monaghan of the Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM).

The Vincentians want to set up a Deaf Centre in the area to provide training and educational support to Deaf people. The Centre would also provide vocational opportunities, skills development and some income generating activities.

Deaf people in Ethiopia have to overcome a great deal of stereotyping and negative attitudes, which often times are internalised and lead to a very poor self-image. The Centre would be a place where the Deaf Community could meet and socialise, organise themselves as a community, improve their sense of esteem and grow in confidence and realise their full potential.

The Irish group has planned to meet with Deaf Community leaders in Ambo, and have brought materials and workshop ideas with them to share.

There will be an update from Willie and Veronica next week. You can also see pictures from the trip on Facebook; look for Ethiopia Deaf Project.

Meeting to discuss new Interpreters Association
Sign Language interpreters are coming together on November 6th to discuss the possibility of setting up a new Sign Language Interpreters Association in Ireland. The meeting will be on at the Prince of Wales Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath at 11am.This meeting welcomes and is open to all interpreters. It is free to attend. If you are interested in attending, please contact KDRC and we will pass on your details.

Cork Deaf Enterprises Great Charity Auction
An auction in aid of Cork Deaf Enterprises will be held at their facilities at Ballinlough Road, Cork, on Sunday November 7th 2010, from 2 to 6pm. Everybody is welcome. Items for auction include: Hotel and Restaurant vouchers, Bottles (wine etc.), toys, Clothes, Golf green fees, Sportswear, Hairdressing vouchers, Travel vouchers, Novelty items, Christmas gifts, Cakes and chocolate, Footwear and much more.

It promises to be a great family day out!
For more information see:

Annual Mass tor the Deceased Past Pupils
The 63rd Annual Mass for Deceased Past Pupils will be held at the Deaf Heritage Centre, in the Gym Hall, St. Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, Cabra, Dublin 7 on Sunday 21st November 2010 at 12pm. Tea/coffee refreshments will be served afterwards. The Deaf Heritage Centre will be open to visitors.

European Congress on Mental Health and Deafness
The 8th European Congress On Mental Health And Deafness is being held in Cambridge, UK this week. The theme of the conference is "Healthy Deaf Minds in Europe". The underlying themes are preventing mental ill health in the deaf community and promoting deaf mental wellbeing. Symposia will be held on the following topics:
  • Deaf Adult and General Services;
  • Deaf Children, Young People and Families;
  • Deaf Elders;
  • Forensic Services for Deaf People;
  • Community and Primary Care Services for Deaf People;
  • Developing Mental Health Services for Deaf People.
For more information about the congress including, presentation abstracts go to
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