People who are deaf or hard of hearing and interested in becoming primary school teachers are being invited to apply for a new teacher training strand, the first of its kind in Ireland, which begins next September at Dublin City University. 

The new strand, to be delivered within DCU's existing Bachelor of Education programme, will include a module in Irish Sign Language.

It is being introduced initially on a pilot basis and will have six places. 

Those interested can apply through the current CAO process, which closes on 1 February. 

The places are being funded through a scheme which aims to increase the number of students with disabilities at third level. 

They are geared towards members of the deaf community who wish to become primary school teachers and work with deaf children.

Apart from specialised modules such as one in Irish Sign Language, students on the new programme will study alongside hearing peers on the university's main Bachelor of Education programme. 

The higher-level Leaving Certificate Irish qualification that is required for other students will be replaced by a requirement of a similar level in Irish Sign Language. 

The four-year full-time undergraduate programme also includes a 30-week school placement.  

A new degree programme that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to qualify as primary school teachers using Irish Sign Language has been launched at Dublin City University.

Up to now students would need to pass Higher Level English and Irish in the Leaving Certificate to gain entry to the Bachelor of Education programme, but now a qualification in Irish Sign Language at a similar level is given equal status and can be used meet the requirement to have two languages

Speaking at the launch at DCU's Insititute of Education in Drumcondra today, Minister for Education Joe McHugh said "It will enable deaf children who use Irish Sign Language in primary school to fully access the curriculum by having teachers who are fluent ISL users.

 "I want to thank DCU's Institute of Education. It is an historic development. It will open the door to a world of teaching both for young people who use Irish Sign Language but also for people who want to teach through sign."

While entry to the course is exclusively for members of the Deaf Community who wish to become primary school teachers working in the deaf education sector, core modules will be delivered along with hearing peers in the B.Ed programme, while modules specific to deaf education will be delivered as a specialism.

Some deaf education-specific modules will be made available as electives to hearing student-teachers.  

The four-year, full-time undergraduate course also includes a 30-week school placement.