Tag Archives: Deaf

In the Face of Calamities

Children with disabilities in the Philippines—there are 5.1 million of them to date—are the most vulnerable if there happen to be a calamity or an emergency in the country. They wouldn’t be able to flee; around 1.5 million need assistive devices. They wouldn’t be able to go back to school immediately and they wouldn’t be able to subsist in the sanitation conditions in evacuation centers.1

So, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Department of Science and Technology, proposed to carry out continuing education and preparation on disaster management in all levels especially those in the most vulnerable groups. He encouraged developing “disaster imagination” to bring about people’s resolve to prepare for any disaster and “disaster preparedness” as a way a life for every Filipino.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council–Office of Civil Defense also endorsed “Lahat Handa,” a training manual that promotes the rights and capacities of children, youth, older people and PWDS.

The ramifications of a typhoon, flood, or fire may linger, said Alex Ghenis of the Berkeley, California-based World Institute on Disability. These may disrupt access to caregivers, assistive devices and medical supplies. A person with a mobility impairment might be less able to escape a storm on their own while a person with a visual or hearing impairment might not receive appropriate evacuation notices. PWDs, therefore, even they have mostly been ignored in scientific literature and policy, will be the most vulnerable during calamities because of falling buildings and environmental pollution.

Good thing, someone has thought of sign language gestures for words like typhoon, storm surge and signal numbers in 2013. Some waterside villages in Tacloban have also planned to raise flags and made announcements over megaphones to alert the deaf and the visually impaired, respectively.

The PWD Forum also hopes that closed captioning will be added to television broadcasts soon. For, as of now, research director Perpi Tiongson of the Oscar M. Lopez Center in Manila has observed that the standard version of Filipino sign language isn’t required to be taught at schools for the deaf yet.

“Some of the children with disabilities wouldn’t be able to duck, cover and hold under tables, so they should identify the safest area in the room, where no debris would fall on them. If they use wheelchairs, they should fix it to ensure stability, and everyone should be informed of their buildings’ respective evacuation routes. They should also pinpoint the safe parts of a building in case of an earthquake.” ~ Dr. Renato Solidum Jr.

1This was noted by Lotta Sylwander, country representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), during the “Emergency Preparedness Forum for Children and Youth with Disabilities.”

2Typhoons could form if the temperature is above 280C (82.40F).

3The figure was from a report of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Notes:

  • Among of the natural disasters that had happened in the Philippines are the Bohol earthquake, (October 15, 2013), Typhoon Bopha (December 3, 2012), Pantukan landslide (January 5, 2012), Tropical Storm Washi (December 2011), Typhoon Fengshen (June 20-23, 2008), Tropical Cyclone Durian (November 25, 2006), Guinsaugon landslide (February 17, 2006), and Tropical Depression Winnie (November 2004).
  • The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas headed by Melissa Banias of the Capability Building Section has trained more or less 700 individuals from the 14 vulnerable or basic sectors that were identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on the Philippine DRRM system, different kinds of natural and human-induced hazards, and DRRM applications. They are composed of volunteer groups, persons with disability, farmers, fisherfolk, rebel returnees, and Indigenous Peoples (IP), among others.
  • The Philippines is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, landslides, storms, cyclones, and depressions simply because it is located just above the equator, where the country faces the western Pacific waters with 280C (82.40F) temperature2. Its hillsides are denuded of forests and it rests on the so-called volcano Ring of Fire.

A lot of Filipinos live on coastal islands, too. The Super Typhoon Haiyan reached 23 feet (7 meters) upon its surge. It rolled over the low-lying parts of Leyte, causing death to more than 10,000 people3.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Edison Jared

UPDATE (October 2, 2018): On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of the fatalities, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of agricultural damages, according to the World Bank.

Source: GMA News Online

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Sensory Impairments in Austria

Out of the 8, 441, 872 Austrians, about 8,600 are totally blind, 13,200 are almost blind, 400,000 are hearing-impaired, and 28,300 people are speech-impeded.

This 450, 100 persons with disabilities (PWDs), though, cannot just fit in Austria “because of a dearth of communication facilities.”

Visual impairment is the impairment of the sense of sight. Speech disorder is characterized by stuttering and lisps, while hearing impairment is a hearing loss that prevents a person from totally receiving sounds through the ear.

Vision could be strengthened through the use of software programs that can read text on a computer screen with a speech synthesizer. This is the screen reader, which is the interface between the computer’s operating system, its applications, and the user. The user just has to press different combinations of keys on the computer keyboard to instruct the speech synthesizer what to say. It could also allow users to locate text displayed in a certain color, read pre-designated parts of the screen on demand, read highlighted text, identify the active choice in a menu, use the spell checker in a word processor, and read the cells of a spreadsheet.

Screen readers are currently available for use with personal computers running Linux, Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android. They can be for free or cost as much as $1,200. Each, however, incorporates a different command structure, and most support a variety of speech synthesizers.

Aside from screen readers, there is also the screen magnification system, which—just like a magnifying glass—enlarges text and graphics on a computer screen; video magnifier or closed-circuit television system (CCTV), which does the same thing as the screen magnification system but under a camera; optical character recognition (OCR) software, which transforms print into alternative formats; and Braille printers, which embosses through the use of solenoids that control embossing pins.

Speech, on the other hand, could be reinforced by an array of computer software packages such as the First Words, which is a program that uses graphic presentations combined with synthesized speech to teach high-frequency nouns. The website Enabling Devices also contains a list (with illustrations!) of innovative assistive technology for speech-impaired or non-verbal individuals.

Hearing could be improved, too, with the MotionSavvy UNI, “the world’s first two-way communication software for the deaf” that can translate American Sign Language (ASL) into speech, and speech into text. There’s also the Solar Ear, designed with the 360 million people with a disabling hearing loss that live in low- to- middle-income countries in mind.

Solar Ear is a solar-powered hearing aid battery that lasts for two to three years. It also costs a fraction of what traditional batteries cost. Another device, ISEEWHATYOUSAY, can capture spoken language on a smartphone, converts it into text, and sends the text via Bluetooth to a remote user’s device.

“A person who is severely impaired never knows his hidden sources of strength until he is treated like a normal human being and encouraged to shape his own life.” ~Hellen Keller

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jonathan Cowper

Standard label?

How could the members of the world’s largest minority be known in a variety of names?

The Philippines has officially referred to them as “disabled persons” last July 22, 1991. Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 7277 has defined them as “those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.”

Fifteen years later, though, the law that was otherwise entitled as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons was amended and Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 9442 renamed every disabled person in the country as a “person with disability.” The title of Republic Act No. 7277 was changed to the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability” and all references to “disabled persons” to “persons with disability”.

This must be the reason why Americans with a disability are labelled as “individuals with a disability”; Canadians and Vietnamese with a disability as “people with disabilities”; and Indians with a disability as “persons with disabilities.”

Moldovans with a disability are “invalid,” though—a portrayal that The Rhythmic Arts Project has claimed to “elicit unwanted sympathy, or worse, pity toward individuals with disabilities.” TRAP has further advised to use the terms person with a disability; people with disabilities; has a disability; or have disabilities instead.

If someone is using a wheelchair to move around, describe her as a “wheelchair user.” What some may classify as a “birth defect” or “affliction” is actually a “congenital disability” or “birth anomaly.”

There’s no need to describe someone as “a victim of [the physical condition]” when you can just say “has a [the physical condition]”. It could also be “has had [the physical condition]”; “experienced [the physical condition]”; or “has a disability as a result of [the physical condition].”

A “person with Down Syndrome” is different from a “Down’s person” or “Mongoloid” (the last two terms are simply derogatory). A “person who has epilepsy/people with seizure disorders or epileptic episodes” is also not the same as an “epileptic.”

Those that some in the society claim “the mentally ill,” “crazy,” “psycho,” or “mental case” should just be termed “people who have mental illness” or “person with a mental or emotional disorder.” Those it call “blind-hearing impaired,” “deaf-mute,” or “deaf and dumb” should be identified as “people who are blind,” “visually impaired,” “person who is hard of hearing,” “person who is deaf,” or “the Deaf.” Deafness is a cultural phenomenon and should be capitalized in this particular instance.

“The use of outdated language and words to describe people with disabilities (PWDs) contributes greatly to perpetuating old stereotypes.” ~ The Rhythmic Arts Project

Video taken from the website of the Disability Horizons