The DESIGNS project (Deaf Employment for Sign Language Users in the EU) is being proposed by the applicant Interesource Group (Ire-land) Limited which has successfully promoted 12 EU projects and has been a partner in 5. DESIGNS builds on the a former project SIGNALL which developed practical training resources for employers to increase their awareness of the Deaf community, sign language and working in interpreted settings.
There is a direct link between early education, attainment of professional and/or educational qualifications, advancement into the labour market and social inclusion. Apart from financial autonomy, work and paid employment serves to develop a sense of belonging with positive mental health benefits and identification with the wider community (National Disability Authority, 2005). However, Deaf people in Ireland, as well as throughout the world, continue to face barriers in education, employment and access to services such in healthcare, legal and social welfare settings.
In a report on poverty in the Deaf community, Conama and Grehan (2001) stated that Deaf people experience higher rates of poverty, social exclusion and employment. Factors such leaving school with no examination nor qualifications, inadequate support for Irish Sign Language has resulted in a worrying picture and 80% of Deaf adults have literacy problems compared to 25% of the population as a whole. (Irish Deaf Society, 2007). Research and data on unemployment is under reported and inaccurate. “Deafness and hearing loss” is often used to report data, and sign language users who are Deaf is under-researched. The World Federation of the Deaf also reports that figures on (un)employment are inaccurate and difficult to quantify (Hauland, H & C. Allen, (2009), Deaf People and Human Rights, WFD).