Tag Archives: sign language

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

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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.