Kevin Dudley

Profile picture of Kevin Dudley

From a promising football career to becoming one of Ireland’s first ever primary school teachers using Irish Sign Language, Kevin's career path has been unconventional. 


Kevin Dudley admits that, previously, teaching was never on his radar. His focus was always on sport. The Dubliner initially studied sports management and coaching and played for Shamrock Rovers’ at Under-18 level until injury cut short the prospect of a professional career. 

After qualifying in sports management he worked for several years as an instructor in the Inspire gym in the Deaf Village in Cabra. But things changed when he took up maternity cover for a  PE teacher at the Holy Family School for the Deaf. 

He found that he loved teaching, particularly with primary school children. “It was something that lit a fire inside me and I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my career,” says Kevin. 

The problem was that “primary teaching wasn’t an option for deaf people at the time” because there was no course in Ireland for people using Irish Sign Language (ISL). 

Four years later, when DCU opened applications for the first ISL Bachelor of Education (B Ed), Kevin was among a small group of deaf students to successfully apply. 

Despite having a close bond with his fellow ISL students, connecting with hearing students was a challenge initially. “We're used to interacting with hearing people, whereas all the other hearing students might never have met a deaf person before. They didn’t know how to interact with us.”

Kevin says that an invitation to the ISL group to present to the full B Ed class on their experiences was a great icebreaker. The deaf students also offered ISL classes to their classmates. 

“So we kind of made the first move, I guess, and the rest is history. We interacted with a lot of other people and we made a lot of friends throughout the wider class group.”

Kevin found some of the academic lectures could be challenging. In contrast, he loved the more active learning opportunities and fieldwork. “I absolutely loved that because those classes involved a lot of hands-on activities and they really suited me,” says Kevin. 

“For example, Local Studies was one of our modules where we would go out to visit a river, or we would go out to see things. Everything was very visual and tactile, and it really felt connected. I think we're visual learners because we're visual communicators.”

Alongside the B Ed modules, Kevin believes he picked up important transferable skills like adaptability and resilience, which he uses as a teacher. “You know, everything can go wrong at any point,” says Kevin. “So, if something comes up, I'm able to adapt and change things so that the day goes smoothly.”

Kevin graduated from the B Ed with First Class Honours and was awarded the DCU Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of his academic and extracurricular achievements, including his work with the Deaf community. 

Kevin, and his ISL classmates, Aimee Ennis McLoughlin and Aisling O'Halloran, are all now teaching at the Holy Family Primary School for the Deaf.

Reflecting on his experience at DCU, Kevin recalls a moment in a teaching placement class when he asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. 

One child told the class: “Deaf people can't be teachers.” Kevin says that the child “didn't see me as a teacher, because I was replacing a hearing teacher.”

That has all changed now. As Deaf teachers, Kevin, Aimee and Aisling are providing their pupils with new role models and opening new horizons.

DCU Prospectus - Go back to Bachelor of Education - Irish Sign Language Pathway