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Registered Charity 1092268

Irish man in London swimming the English Channel to raise money for Irish sign language recognition campaign

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 “I share the same dream that many Irish deaf people have – that of an Irish society where we are all equal. Irish Sign Language recognition will bring us closer to that goal.” (Wesley Nolan)

English Channel

Originally from Beaumont in Dublin Wesley Nolan has been living in London for several years. This August he’ll be swimming across the English Channel by himself from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in France to support the Irish Deaf Society

As a deaf man himself, supporting the charity’s sign language recognition campaign is profoundly close to his heart. Wesley moved to the UK shortly after British sign language was recognised as an official minority language by the government (although without legal status) and says the deaf community has hugely benefitted from this along with the equality legislation. For Wesley, the Access to Work Scheme has been one of the most positive outcomes to come out of the recognition. Wesley said: 

“It has allowed me to use interpreters in the workplace, all paid for by the government. Because there are no language barriers between me and my colleagues, I feel equal at work – and this has allowed me to contribute in the workplace and get promoted.“ 

Wesley, a Senior Employment Adviser himself in Entreprise & Innovation for Leonard Cheshire Disability says his deaf friends and peers in Ireland have not been given the same opportunities at work. He says language barriers still remain in the workplace, hospitals, GP clinics and schools. He said: 

“I strongly believe that to change this, Irish Sign Language (ISL) has to be recognised. With ISL recognition, public services will have to make themselves accessible to deaf people and remove these language barriers.”

The Irish Deaf Society (IDS) has been campaigning for Irish Sign Language recognition for over 30 years and while they are getting close to their goal, there’s still a lot of work to be done. They need extra staff to help with the increased workload that will come as the campaign gathers speed – but for this they need funds. So Wesley is raising €10,000 to contribute towards this.

Wesley started planning the swim two years ago and has since spent weekends and evenings training. He said: 

“I share the same dream that many Irish Deaf people have – that of an Irish society where we are all equal. Irish Sign Language recognition will bring us closer to that goal.”

You can donate via Wesley’s Go Fund Me page and stay up to date with all of his practice via his Facebook page

From all us here at Irish in Britain, we wish Wesley the very best of luck for such a wonderful cause.