Tag Archives: sign language

Filipino PWDs this January 2019

The onset of the year has been promising for persons with disabilities in the Philippines.

For one, the education department’s secretary has called on them to register.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has issued this in DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018. The Early Registration, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy,” covers incoming kinder, grade 7 and grade 11 learners in public schools. Out-of-school children (OSC) and youth (OSY) in the community are also invited as well as those living in an off-grid community, in a barangay without a school, in a geographically isolated area, in an armed conflict area, in an area with high level of criminality/drug abuse, in conflict with the law, and on the streets.

Those displaced due to natural disaster could also register even the victims of child abuse or economic exploitation, stateless or undocumented, and those who are no longer in school but interested in going back to schools.

Letting persons with disabilities study alongside non-PWDs has been my suggestion since February 19, 2016 when I’ve written about Austria and how it’s taking care of PWDs in the country. It has legislated integrative schooling in 1993 during the first eight years of a child. This is also what is being observed in Spain and Malaysia.

The PWD Forum has pushed for the integration of special education in the basic and secondary curriculum in the country. It has reiterated that after The PWD Forum turned one in the blogosphere and even after it turned twoThe PWD Forum has also made a case on the necessity, benefit, and practicality of sign language if only it is taught to every one.

In the Philippines, this has been the case at the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite. Education is an equalizer, pointed by Atty. Liza D. Corro, chancellor of University of the Philippines-Cebu, in a post.

The government has also implemented the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on sale of medicines—regardless of brands—for diabetes, high cholesterol,  and hypertension as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law.

And, most important of all, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos–the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036)–has been signed after more or less 28 years. It could secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GMA Public Affairs

Advertisements

Sign Language & Politics

Is it more important for the sign language to be used to the letter than for it to draw a point?

For Sen. Nancy Binay, author of the Senate Bill 14551, it is. What Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson and blogger Andrew “Drew” Olivar have done is actually a sign of disrespect “to the sizeable deaf/mute community who already struggle in airing their concerns and aspirations.”

Asec. Uson and Olivar have posted a video in September 14 on the “Mocha Uson Blog” that featured the latter pretending to be a hearing-speech impaired person, flailing his arms around, and making squeaking sounds.

“Such discriminatory actions set back our efforts to make our society more inclusive by providing a more conducive environment for deaf Filipinos to exercise their right to expression without prejudice,” the senator was quoted as saying in a report.

The University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Education Student Council agrees. So apart from condemning the “outright form of discrimination,” it demanded a public apology from Asec. Uson.

“Such seat in the government should not be carelessly given to people who do not take precedence and give value to the importance of a community’s language and culture,” it pointed in the same report.

The Philippine Federation of the Deaf, on the other hand, has gone to filing a complaint against the former board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) before the Office of the Ombudsman. It also filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights alongside the Philippine Deaf Resource Center and the Philippine Coalition on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Asec. Uson has violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, the Civil Code of the Philippines, the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the groups claimed.

Other institutions appalled by Asec. Uson and Olivar are the PWD Philippines, and the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

This was not the first time Asec. Uson has offended the Filipino public. Student leaders of Akbayan Youth have charged Asec. Uson in April 2 with grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

She has also caused cyberbullying attacks against students from St. Scholastica’s College, stated that Mayon Volcano was in Naga City, dared several opposition public officials to visit the wake of a slayed police officer who had died a year earlier, posted a photograph of Honduran military forces in place of the Philippine military, alleged Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to have offshore bank accounts, and called Vice President Leni Robredo “bobo” at least five times on live radio.

“We welcome the public apology the duo recently issued. However, for an apology to be genuine, it must be coupled with a full sense of accountability, concrete actions to rectify the wrong done, and future actions should manifest efforts to protect and promote the welfare and dignity of the PWDs.” ~ Commission on Human Rights

1Otherwise called “The Filipino Sign Language Act,” the proposed law intends to adopt the FSL as an official language of instruction and communication of the deaf in the Philippines. It would be the official sign language in all government transactions involving them in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces.

Being SPED-ready

In the Philippines, an educational institution has become “SPED-ready”: the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite.

“SPED-ready” is a term The PWD Forum will use from now on in describing schools that let students—with disabilities or none—learn together. It was its belief to either integrate special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines or teach sign language. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and, since its population is ageing, everyone is qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization.

So for its part, the CNHS has launched socialization activities that give practical training to PWDs. “Hindi namin itinatago ang mga [estudyanteng may] IDs (intellectual disability) ditto (Here, we do not hide our students with intellectual disabilities),” CNHS principal Teresita Silan was quoted in a report.

It has inspired high school student Bernadette Levardo to hang out instead of tucking herself in. She now aims to be a chef, buy a house, and own a restaurant.

“Through the transition program, Bernadette was trained, she improved her social skills, and it boosted her confidence. I was even amazed she was able to deliver a speech just recently in senior high school,” her teacher, Estie Manguiat, has remarked in the same report.

Integration could allow PWDs and non-PWDs alike to develop their skills and interact independently. Even Student Inclusion Division head Nancy Pascual of the DepEd central office has come to see that development and social adaptation are much faster with interaction.

In CNHS, this is done through a seating arrangement that lets PWDs and non-PWDs sit together. Non-SPED educators are also regularly trained to be sensitive to a PWDs’ needs and pace of learning by the local government’s Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). The school has forged partnerships with fast food chains and factories in their town, too, to promote employment.

As of now, the Philippines can already boast of schools that are “SPED-ready”. The only thing to work on is an “upgrade” of these educational institutions into learning resource centers (LRCs) to get a mainstream school enroll PWDs.

“Specialized equipment are lodged in the learning resource centers. Any school that has PWD enrollment will be able to access it anytime of the year. This addresses the financial side. Instead of going to SPED schools far from their homes, they could just enroll in the nearest school to their residence, which is not necessarily a SPED center.” ~ Nancy Pascual

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

Mandaluyong

Likened to a tiger by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center in 2002, Mandaluyong has been intense as well in caring for the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the city.

It has established an office—the Disabled Persons Affairs (DPAD) —in 1998. It has issued identification cards for free in 2009. It has led the latter to possible research-based programs through its accurate registry.

Within the department is a literacy program for PWDs, children or youth. Local legislations are thought of for the sector as well as workshops. A task force is also assigned to monitor the implementation of the Accessibility Law and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and community-based programs are established to supports the different organizations of PWDs and caregivers.

Mandaluyong has sports and socio-cultural programs in place. It has the Mandaluyong Manpower and Development Center (MMDC), a small government institution that has become a “nationally competitive training center” to help PWDs realize their optimum potential. It has two training centers—in Barangay Hulo and in Welfareville Compound in Addition Hills—with 23 training facilitators and 26 support staff teaching casket making and carpentry.

To date, PWDs in the city have benefited from the DPAD programs. A summary of its projects and impact to the sector from 1997-2003 were recorded and four social welfare organizations have been opened even to those who are not residents of Mandaluyong. Among them are the Integrated Day Care Center, which is both for autistic and “normal” children ages 0-3 years old; the Sanctuary Center, which serves as a temporary shelter for recovered psychotics; the National Center for Mental Health and Social Service, which provides medical assistance to mentally ill patients; and the Jose Fabella Center, which serves male psychotics age 19-25 years old only.

Project TEACH (Therapy, Education and Assimilation of Children with Handicap) has been a leading initiative for children with disabilities (CWDs) here since September 2007. Its therapy center has been providing evaluation, diagnostic and regular therapy services. It would teach basic sign language to community workers and policemen so that they can communicate effectively with the deaf among them. Even the city’s private sector would help: it would cooperate with the city government to give free therapy to the CWDs.

Under the project, there would be the Mandaluyong CARES (Center for Alternative Rehabilitation and Education Services) and the Kitchen Specials (KS). They would be offering pre-vocational skills training programs to CWDs and supply public school canteens with “healthy, delicious, and affordable snacks” prepared by PWDs themselves, respectively.

But what excites me more is Mandaluyong’s initiative to share with other local government units (LGUs) the projects that have worked for the PWDs in it! Just recently, Wennah Marquez, officer-in-charge of Mandaluyong’s DPAD, trained the staff of other LGUs responsible for the disability issues in their own cities how to custom-fit wheelchairs for CWDs based on their physical constitution and nature and level of disability. Mandaluyong is not just giving them what it think they need, but is also making sure that the latter would be able to function as equals among ‘normals’!

“Expert studies show that given the same opportunities as others, children with disabilities can equally contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.” ~UNICEF Philippines

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Juan Miguel Ala-Tolentino

When disaster strikes!

For a country lying astride the typhoon belt, in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and in between the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates, the Philippines must work on its disaster risk- reduction for people with disabilities (PWDs) now.

And why not? During a conference on disaster- risk reduction in Cagayan De Oro in 2012, it was affirmed that “…PWDs are more vulnerable to disasters than others.” There are about 10 million PWDs in the country, with some 5 million aged 60 years and over and 5 million aged 49 years old and below. There is one PWD in every 20 households in the Philippines, and one in three of them actually heads a household.

But there are no figures to tell how many PWDs suffered in the typhoons, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis that devastated the Philippines. It is thus necessary that, for the time being, Filipinos—PWDs or not—learn sign language. It is a person’s right to live,  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserted.

Sign language is also beneficial because it could instill awareness about the “social problem” physical disability has come to be1. It is likewise practicable because a PWD-friendly culture in the Philippines could turn the country more appealing to every local or foreign PWD in the cheapest way possible2.

Language and Behavior

Language shapes thinking. It can “profoundly affect” how a person perceives the world, as well as limit or enhance certain events and interactions, according to cognitive scientists and rhetoricians3.

Language can also influence even the most fundamental abilities of human experience. It can mold the way one thinks about many aspects of the world (based on an empirical evidence), being a part and parcel of many more aspects of thought than was previously realized4.

The Philippines’ commitment to disaster- risk reduction then would work better if it would consider teaching sign language in all levels of schools in the country. Remember: a disaster’s severity depends on how much impact a hazard may cause on a society and environment. The scale of this impact, in turn, would vary on what is taught in schools. If every Filipino individual, family, community and institution would learn how to speak in sign language, we could become more resilient to disasters.

“This year, the focus of the International Day for Disaster Reduction is on some one billion people around the world who live with some form of disability.” United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2013

1There are already 36 PWD organizations listed in the directory of the National Council on Disability Affairs to date. Each of them aims to help PWDs in their living, providing seminars and workshops on one hand, and giving wheelchairs, crutches, and hearing aids on the other. Some also would conduct free medical and dental services; administer centers and schools advocating PWD rights; and train deaf high school graduates in computer technology. But a budget airline recently disallowed a “special” child in its aircraft; a first-class city within the National Capital Region (NCR) shut down its school for deaf children; and the textbooks that could let the blind and partially-sighted people to read and write though touch were considered even though they can neither be produced locally nor translated in Filipino.

2There are 650 million PWDs in the world, 49.7 million of them resides in the country with the largest economy in the world to date (United States) while 21,894 lives in the country with a small and least developed economy (Bhutan).

3This is according to a study conducted by Dan Erwin, a specialist in performance improvement who holds a seminary degree (M. Div.) as well as a Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Minnesota.

4This is according to a research of Lera Boroditsky, an assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Stanford University and editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology.