In July 1999 a scholarship specifically aimed at the deaf community in Ireland was launched by Her Excellency, Mrs Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, at Trinity College Dublin. The Fulbright Scholarship in Deaf Studies enables an Irish student to spend an academic year at Gallaudet University in Washington. Gallaudet University, founded in 1864, is the only liberal arts college in the world to cater exclusively for deaf undergraduate students. In addition to its undergraduate and graduate programmes, the University offers national demonstration elementary and secondary educational programmes, continuing education programmes, and a wide range of public service programmes. Further information on the University is available on its website at

This scholarship is part of the international Fulbright Programme, an educational exchange programme which was established in 1946 immediately after World War II under legislation sponsored by the late Senator J William Fulbright of Arkansas. Senator Fulbright’s vision was to build an alternative to armed conflict by providing a structured network for dialogue and exchange between individuals and cultures. The Programme has been operating in Ireland since 1957 and is administered by the Irish- US Fulbright Commission.

The principle aim of the Fulbright Deaf Studies Award Programme is to foster an international partnership between Gallaudet University and the deaf community in Ireland, and through this partnership, to promote awareness of the distinctive nature of deaf language and culture. The Programme also seeks to provide training for members of both the deaf and hearing communities, in particular for those who work at the interface between the deaf and hearing communities.

The scholarship is open to Irish deaf persons who wish to pursue a course of study at Gallaudet University at either undergraduate or post-graduate level. Applicants for undergraduate studies at Gallaudet are not required to have a third level qualification. However, the educational standard of applicants must be at a level which will enable them to benefit from a third-level programme of study. Each year, Gallaudet University tailor-makes a programme to suit the academic interests and ability of the awardee which will normally include English language and mathematics.

As part of the exchange programme a US student, who may be deaf or working in the area of deaf studies, comes to Ireland. The US student is typically a postgraduate student and is accorded visiting researcher status at the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

Selection of Awardees: US Students

US applicants for the Fulbright Deaf Studies Award at TCD apply and are selected in the same way as for all other US Fulbright student awards to Ireland. The selection is carried out by the Institute for International Education (IIE) who sends a short-list of recommended candidates to the Irish Fulbright Commission for final approval. The Commission will consult with TCD on the selection.

Funding for US students:

The US State Department provided seed funding to pay the grant for the US student coming to Ireland under the Programme. Trinity College Dublin accords visiting researcher status at the Centre for Deaf Studies for the US grantee and provides office accommodation, library and computer access.

Both of these sources of funding have now expired and a new sponsor for the Fulbright Deaf Studies Programme is currently being sought.

Contact for Fulbright in Ireland: Dr. Lorraine Leeson,

[Source: MS Word file from C. Lucas, 4/2009]

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Fulbright Program

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