There is a direct link between early education, attainment of professional and/or educational qualifications, advancement into the labour market and social inclusion. Deaf people in across the EU (as well as throughout the world), continue to face barriers in education, employment and when accessing services such as in healthcare, legal and social welfare domains.

In a report on poverty in the Deaf community, Conama and Grehan (2001) stated that Deaf people experience higher rates of poverty, social exclusion and employment. Factors such leaving school with no examinations, nor qualifications and inadequate provision and support for sign language interpreting, has resulted in deaf adults experiencing high levels of literacy issues compared to 25% of the population as a whole (Irish Deaf Society, 2007). To date, research and data on unemployment is under-reported and often inaccurate. “Deafness and hearing loss” is often used to report data. The experiences of deaf sign language users is under-researched. One of the common findings that has emerged is that a lack of deaf awareness amongst employers is perceived to be barrier to employment.

The DESIGNS project has brought together 7 partners from 4 EU countries who are renowned experts in the fields of Education and Training, Employment, Sign Language Interpreting and Deaf Community Advocacy.

The project has produced training and learning resources driven by evidence-based research carried out across the EU.


  • EU Report
  • Training content for sign language interpreters, Deaf community and employers
  • A European guide for employers on how to work with interpreters
  • A glossary of workplace terms for interpreters 
  • Signed guides for the deaf community
  • Outreach seminars and awareness sessions for the Deaf community and sign language users;
  • Master classes for sign language interpreters;
  • Tool Kits for employers
  • Case study videos

Target group

  • Deaf job seekers, employees and graduates
  • Employers
  • Higher education access and career guidance professionals
  • Sign Language Interpreters


  • Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited (coordinator)
  • European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli)
  • European Union of the Deaf (EUD)
  • Humbolt-Universität Zu Berlin
  • Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin
  • Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD)
  • Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

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