Audism In Action: exploring access to public sector bodies for the Irish Deaf community

Authors: Gill Harold*, University College Cork
Topics: Social Geography, Communication
Keywords: Deaf, access, audism,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


It has been recognised that Deaf communities worldwide have experienced exclusion and discrimination, directly linked with challenges related to information provision, communication strategies, Deaf Awareness and sign language interpretation. These challenges can be critically explored through the lens of audism, which can be explained as a fundamental intolerance of non-hearing ways of being. Emery (2009: 38) contends that ‘if social policy is made by people who are defined as ‘hearing’, it tends to be shaped in the image of their culture’. The impacts of audism on civic participation by Irish Deaf citizens was explored by Harold (2013: 854), who concluded that ‘a significant aspect of their [Deaf participants’] personal everyday geographies involves encountering hearing citizens, and the discrete, yet powerful, audist biases that underwrite the social relations between them.’

With the passing into law of the Irish Sign Language (ISL) Act 2017, ISL was recognised as the third official language of the Republic of Ireland, marking a significant development for members of the Irish Deaf community in respect of upholding their human rights. This paper will explore the spatial signature of audism in action, based on the findings of a project entitled 'Developing a Deaf Awareness and Accessibility Auditing Template' which was funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s Grant Scheme 2018. Engaging with Deaf perspectives, the paper considers the lived impacts of seeking to access public sector bodies whose model of service provision rests on the assumption of a hearing public.

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