There is a dearth of qualitative research concerning deaf people's experiences of participating in the Irish Sign Language (ISL) recognition movement, and this limits our ability to understand the opportunities and constraints they encountered as they negotiated their way toward the passing of the ISL Act 2017. While ISL is unique to Ireland, it is also of crucial importance to deaf people's identity and the quality of their social and educational life. The aim of this qualitative study is to reveal the primary findings derived from interviews with nine deaf activists who participated in this study. Framed within the social movement theory and the Freirean concept of critical consciousness, the study illuminates the background on how and why deaf activists managed to overcome some significant challenges during the ISL movement. The findings show that deaf activists successfully negotiated their way through the political and legal system to achieve their goal. Discussions and conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that deaf people have the potential to be both agents of social change and effective social movement activists. Finally, the article seeks to be added to the canon of literature on sign language studies and the emerging research on sign language recognition.


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pp. 263-289
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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