What is Deaf Studies?
The Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity affords students the opportunity to develop insights into, and genuine appreciation for the culture, contributions, and contemporary issues related to Deaf people in Ireland and worldwide. The undergraduate programme is the only one of its kind in Ireland. Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the indigenous language of the Deaf Community in Ireland and is the working language at the Centre for Deaf Studies.
ISL is a language like any other language, but it happens to use signs rather than sounds. There are many different sign languages in the world in the same way as there are different spoken languages.
ISL is one of the many signed languages recognised by European Institutions and Northern Ireland. During the four year course students develop fluency in ISL. As a student you may choose to specialise as an ISL/English Interpreter, an ISL teacher or to focus on Deaf Studies. Students entering the Deaf Studies programme will explore a range of educational, social, cultural, linguistic, and psychological issues and their application to Deaf people, as individuals, as a community, and as a linguistic and cultural minority.
Do you think you will enjoy:
The multi-disciplinary approach to your studies is led by a strong academic team, many of whom are Deaf. It will provide in-depth training that prepares undergraduates for a number of exciting career options working with Deaf people, in education, community and a range of other service settings e.g., as a disability officer, resource officer, research assistant or as an administrator in Deaf community organisations. With this foundation, students frequently go on to postgraduate study.
Deaf Studies: The course for you?
Deaf Studies is the right course for you if:
Deaf Studies at Trinity
The Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity has an international reputation for its work: we bring approaches from across many disciplines (linguistics, equality studies, psychology, education, disability studies, gender studies, interpreting studies, social policy and digital humanities) to bear on our work with Deaf communities.
We engage closely with the Irish Deaf community and students will have the opportunity to learn from many of the world’s leading scholars in this discipline who collaborate with the Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) staff.
The pathways available are Single Honors and Major with Minor.
Graduate skills and career opportunities
Graduates frequently work in Deaf organisations, for example as a resource officer or combined with another skill set, such as teaching, ISL interpreting, child care, social work, public service bodies, the Civil Service or the media. There is also scope for further study or research in areas such as linguistics, communications, anthropology, multiculturalism, gender studies or law.
Your degree and what you’ll study
The programme in Deaf Studies draws on a core faculty with interests in Irish Sign Language and Deaf Studies, as well as other faculty within the University and the School of Linguistics Speech and Communication Sciences, with expertise in bilingualism, biculturalism, reading, literacy, linguistics and applied linguistics, cognitive and language development, language teaching, special education, and counselling. 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. Core courses detailing the history, education, literature and language of the Deaf will be taught by both Deaf and hearing staff.
ISL is studied across the programme. In years two and three, themes such as Deaf education, 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. Students in the third and fourth year complete a Capstone research project.
Across the four years of the degree you will develop a high level of competency in ISL skills. Language teaching is mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR, Council of Europe), so you will be able to map your progress against your knowledge of other languages. Competence in Irish Sign Language is fundamental to gaining an in-depth understanding of the Deaf community and is a requirement of the programme.
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.
The course employs a wide range of teaching, learning and assessment strategies. Both continuous assessment and end of semester exams are undertaken across the four years. The range and diversity of assessment formats account for varying student learning styles.
Study abroad and internship opportunities
Students undertake practical placements in the third year and whilst students are usually placed in an Irish organisation, it is possible, by special arrangement, to arrange a placement abroad.