The family may have to sell their house to fund a High Court case

The family of a deeply deaf 12-year-old have said they are taking legal action against the state in the High Court over fears of being forced to sell their family home.

Andrew Geary, who campaigns for an Irish Sign Language teacher and interpreter in the classroom for his deeply deaf son Calum, told the Irish Examiner the family may have no choice but to put their house on the market to fund their legal challenge.

“We were hoping it didn’t come to that, but if this is what is needed to secure Calum’s constitutional right to education, then this is what we will have to do,” Geary said. .

Calum Geary, from Ballyhooly in County Cork, was born without an auditory nerve, which means he is profoundly deaf and beyond medical or mechanical intervention.

Because he has never heard human speech and will never speak himself, Calum’s first language is Irish Sign Language (ISL), which has been – since the inception of the Language Act of 2017. Irish signs – one of the official languages ​​of Ireland.

Calum’s father, who is a shift sergeant teaching at Garda College in Templemore, said without an ISL teacher and an interpreter in the classroom, Calum will never be able to fully understand what is going on in the classroom like his fellow students. hearing take it for granted.

“It’s important to point out that what deeply deaf children like Calum essentially need is a fluent ISL teacher who would work in the classroom alongside the regular teacher, not only interpreting and explaining the lessons. , but also all the often complex interactions that occur. between teachers and students, ”he said.

Calum currently attends St Columba National School in Douglas, Cork, and Mr Geary says Calum loves the school, which has 34 deaf and hard of hearing students from all over County Cork. However, he fears for his son’s future in high school without an ISL teacher and interpreter.

Falling behind

Calum’s twin brother Donnacha, who has a full hearing, has just started high school, while Calum repeats sixth grade, which his father says shows how Calum, a kid “just as smart as his brother,” is already falling behind.

It is understood that less than 100 children in Ireland are as deaf as Calum, and less than 10 of those children currently have access to an ISL teacher and interpreter in the classroom. A qualified ISL teacher and interpreter will have obtained a Level 8 bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies in four years from Trinity College Dublin.

“We are not talking about a huge expenditure for the state to fulfill its constitutional obligations here, and that would mean Irish children like Calum would not be left behind,” Mr Geary said.

The Children’s Ministry said it could not comment on specific cases. The education ministry had yet to respond to a request for comment.

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