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Deaf Studies

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What is Deaf studies?

Deaf studies explores the position of the Deaf community from social, educational, policy and historical perspectives. Graduates will develop fluency in Irish Sign Language (ISL) and may choose to specialise as ISL/English interpreters, ISL teachers or as generalists in Deaf studies. Interpreters facilitate communication in a range of community and conference settings including legal, medical, educational, social services, and employment related settings. ISL teachers deliver language learning in a range of contexts, working with Deaf children and their families at home, and with adults who are learning ISL as a second language. There is currently a significant shortage of professional ISL/English interpreters and ISL teachers in Ireland. Those specialising in Deaf studies develop valuable research skills as part of this course.

Is this the right course for you?

Through Deaf studies, you will come into contact with people of all ages and will be required to work in a range of settings, which may include community clinics, hospitals, legal contexts and a wide range of community and educational settings. You will be working between Deaf and hearing communities and bridging communication and cultural gaps. In many instances, you will also find yourself dealing with families of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people. It is important, therefore, that you are adaptable and people-oriented. You will also need to be capable of working independently and as part of a team. You should have an interest in learning about language, culture and society and be open to using technology in your learning.

Course overview

Deaf studies is a four-year full-time honors degree course. No prior knowledge of ISL is required. The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the Deaf community and ISL for those wishing to work in or with the Deaf community.

Course content

This course gives an in-depth understanding of the Irish Deaf community and of the experience of Deaf people internationally, historically and in contemporary society. ISL is studied across the programme, while in years one and two, themes such as Deaf education, the representation of Deaf people in the media, the legal and political standing of signed languages and access to critical public health services are explored, along with understanding of the structure of ISL, the sociolinguistic context and the path to acquisition of a signed language for Deaf children. For ISL/English interpreting students, translation theory and the practical skills of interpreting, guided by ethical practice are emphasised in years three and four. For students taking the ISL teaching route, aspects of the psychology of education are introduced along with guidance on planning and implementing a curriculum and assessing student performance. On the Deaf studies route, there are options relating to the development of accessible multimedia for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people or carrying out a research project, which culminates in a dissertation. For all students years three and four include practice placements with organisations working with/for the Deaf community in Ireland or (through Erasmus links) across the European Union. In the Junior Freshman (first) year, there are approximately 17 hours of direct teaching. The component courses are grouped under three headings: Language, Theory and Practice.

Language component

Across the four years of the degree ISL skills will be developed to a high degree. Our language teaching is mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe), so you will be able to map your progress against your knowledge of other languages. Students have six to nine hours of ISL hours of class contact per week.

Theoretical component

Theoretical courses introduce you to aspects of language acquisition, linguistics, sociolinguistics, social policy, and social studies. Each theoretical course involves two hours of lecture time per week plus an expectation of self study. Theoretical courses include:

  • An introduction to sign linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Perspectives on deafness
  • Interactional discourse analysis
  • Language acquisition and deafness
  • Aspects of written language
  • Deaf education
  • Working with the Deaf community
  • Deaf people and the media
  • Ethics
  • Translation and interpreting: Philosophy and practice
  • Methods of assessment
  • Curriculum planning
  • Teaching methods
  • Theories of education
  • Research methods
  • Teaching ISL as L1/L2

Students can also select one course from the Broad Curriculum in both years one and two (seeĀ http://www.tcd.ie/Broad_Curriculum). In year 3, students may consider spending a term abroad as a visiting student.

Practice component

Practical components are introduced in the Sophister (third and fourth) years and will include block placements with organisations. These will include a four-week block placement in the Junior Sophister (third) year and an eight-week block in the Senior Sophister (fourth) year. While you will usually attend placement in an Irish organisation, it is possible, by special arrangement, to arrange a placement abroad. In previous years, students have undertaken placements with a wide range of organisations including the Irish Deaf Society, DeafHear, Kerry Deaf Resource Centre, Deaf Community Centre (Limerick), Cork Association for the Deaf, Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), Bridge Interpreting, the National Chaplaincy for Deaf People and Remark (London).

Assessment

Award of the degree is based on continuous assessment, a practice placement, and final examinations. A student whose placement performance is considered unsatisfactory may be allowed further placement experience.

Career opportunities

Graduates frequently work in Deaf organisations (e.g. as a resource officer) or combined with another skill set, such as teaching, child care, social work, media, etc., work as an ISL teacher, or as an ISL interpreter. There is also scope for continuing to further study in areas such as linguistics, communications, anthropology, multiculturalism, gender studies, law, etc. Graduates have also gone on to work in the Civil Service and other public service bodies.

Did you know?

  • Irish Sign Language is the second indigenous language of Ireland and is the working language at the Centre for Deaf Studies. ISL is one of the many signed languages recognised by the European Institutions and has been formally recognised in Northern Ireland. Trinity College is the only university on the island of Ireland offering a Deaf studies programme.

Further information

www.tcd.ie/slscs/cds

Tel: + 353 830 1560

E-mail: cdsinfo@tcd.ie

Centre for Deaf Studies, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, 4th Floor, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin.

Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateHC3 English
OD3/HD3 In language other than English
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C English literature (A or B) or English language (A or B)
GCSEGrade C in a language other than English
Entry to Year 3 of Bachelor in Deaf studies:
Garda Vetting:Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting. SeeĀ 

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