Second deaf person awarded with doctorate

Tipperary man Noel O’Connell has become the second deaf person in Ireland to be awarded with a doctorate.

A graduate of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Dr O’Connell chose deaf education for his study of deaf people’s experience of education and culture.

Dr O’Connell believes many deaf people come up against barriers to education because teachers use a language that is inaccessible to them.

Dr O’Connell, from Clonmel in Co Tipperary but living in Limerick, said most of the literature on the education of deaf people was written from the dominant non-deaf perspective

“Deaf people have not been adequately included as subjects in educational research. They are frequently excluded from studies concerning education and where they are included in such studies they tend to be under-represented,” he said.

“I believed there was a need to fill that void by creating a space for the voice of deaf people to better represent and authenticate their educational experiences.”

Commenting on the time he spent at Mary Immaculate College, Dr O’Connell said: “What is unique about Mary I is the sense of community I found in the college that separates the experience from any other academic institutions.

“My time here has enriched my life in so many ways as the college provided access to communication support services and ensured that my study was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.”

Supervisors Prof Jim Deegan and Anne O’Byrne said Dr O’Connell’s work represented a triumph for the unbounded potential of the human spirit.

Mary I president Prof Michael Hayes, said Dr O’Connell’s work would play a major part in progressing understanding of deaf education and culture both within and outside deaf communities.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, October 28, 2013