A piece of new technology is making a huge difference to people's lives. A CD-Rom is now being used to teach sign language through distance learning.

The project, run by the National Association for Deaf People, is a finalist in the Arts and Communications Category at the AIB Better Ireland Awards. 

Barry Dunne, Project Manager with the National Association for the Deaf, provides a profile of people with deafness or hard of hearing, constituting approximately 17% of the population. For many of these people, day to day communication can prove challenging. 

Geraldine Fitzgerald and Damien Owens, who are both deaf, share some of the challenges they face on a daily basis. 

The National Association for Deaf People provides a wide range of services including family support, counselling, and training. The CD Rom project emerged out of a need for a better way of showing sign language, showing the learner the full movement and action of sign language.  

Sign language in Ireland is the third language of the country behind English and Irish and it should be recognised as that. If a deaf person is able to go into a shop, into the GPO and meet somebody there behind the counter who is able to communicate with them, what that will mean, one, is open access but also it will help the deaf person's self-confidence.

A 'Nationwide' report broadcast on 29 October 1997. The reporter is Michael Ryan.