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).

The DESIGNS brings together partners from 4 EU countries who are renowned experts in the fields of Employment, Education and Training, Sign Language Interpreting and Training, and Deaf community advocacy.

The overall aim of the project is to create VET and CPD training resources and exchange best practices across Europe to facilitate greater participation of Deaf sign language users in employment.

This will be achieved by:

  • Creating a training module for Deaf job seeking graduates from higher education who are reported to be underemployed and who have a lower propensity to get a job;
  • Creating a training module for employers to increase their awareness of deaf job applicants and job candidates to so that Deaf job applicants have a better chance in succeeding in employment;
  • Creating a training module for sign language interpreters as part of their continuous professional development to understand the nature of interpreting in education and employment (pre-employment/during employment) settings.


  • Transitional Deaf job seekers (looking for a job upon leaving post-school education)
  • Employers and higher education access and career guidance personnel and educators (teaching staff)
  • Qualified Sign Language Interpreters
Visit Designs's website.

back to top