First Fulbright Scholarship in Deaf Studies announced in Trinity College

Posted on: 15 July 1999

For the first time in Ireland, a scholarship specifically aimed at the deaf community will be made available to third level students, it was announced in Trinity College by President McAleese.

The $30,000 ‘Fulbright Scholarship in Deaf Studies’ will enable students to travel to the United States to attend Gallaudet University in Washington DC. Gallaudet is regarded as being to the fore in world research into deaf studies and sign language. The scholar will be given the opportunity to take part in courses offered at undergraduate or post-graduate level for one or two semesters and will be helped and monitored by mentors in Gallaudet University. As part of the Scholarship Programme, each year a graduate student from Gallaudet will come to Ireland where they will have Visiting Academic Status at Trinity.

The aim of the programme is to foster an international partnership between Gallaudet University and the deaf community in Ireland. “We aim to promote awareness of the distinctive nature of deaf language and culture,” stated Margaret Leahy, Director of the School of Clinical Speech and Language Studies, TCD. “To date there has been very little research conducted in this country into Irish Sign Language, the third indigenous language of Ireland. Through the partnership with Gallaudet we hope to advance research in all areas relating to deafness and to provide training for members of both the deaf and hearing communities. This partnership was established by Sarah Burns, herself a former Fulbright Scholar, now working in the School of Clinical Speech and Language Studies.”

Although pioneered by the School of Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College, students from any Irish third level college may apply for the scholarship from August 1999. The first successful scholar will be announced in December this year and new applications will be sought for each year of the programme. The overall scholarship programme will run for five years and is supported by the Fulbright Commission (the Ireland-US Commission for Educational Exchange) and Gallaudet University as well as a number of sponsors.