832. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the way in which her Department and agencies under her remit are meeting obligations under the Irish Sign Language Act 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17431/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Irish Sign Language (ISL) Act 2017 recognises the right of members of the deaf community to use ISL as their native language and to use, develop and preserve it. My Department, which previously had responsibility for disability inclusion policy, was instrumental in the development of the Act and remains committed to its full implementation across all our relevant agencies.
At present, my Department endeavours at all times to provide the necessary access to services required, including ISL, when requested by an individual engaging with, or availing of services from, my Department. I am personally committed to working with officials in my Department and its agencies, in consultation with the NDA, to ensure that we continue to improve our performance in this regard to anticipate and remove any potential impediments or barriers experienced by people with disabilities in their interactions with the Department and across the wider justice sector.
I am informed that the National Disability Authority (NDA) is compiling a report on the operation of the 2017 Act for the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Officials in my Department and agencies are currently in the process of completing a survey in this regard, which I understand is due for return to the NDA this week. My officials have also engaged with colleagues in the agencies under the remit of my Department in relation to this survey, in order to ensure it receives due attention and is completed by all relevant bodies.
Irish Sign Language interpretation facilities are provided through Sign Language Interpretation Services as required for public consultations and events hosted by the Department. The Deputy may also wish to note that Deaf Awareness training has been provided in a number of our agencies and many of our public-facing bodies are engaged in exploring ways to ensure increased access for the deaf community, including remote Irish Sign Language interpretation.
In accordance with Section 26(2) of the Disability Act, the Department has an Access Officer who is responsible for providing, arranging or co-ordinating assistance to people with disabilities who wish to access services provided by the Department of Justice.