Tag Archives: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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.

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Disability in Filipino men

Among of the disabilities common in Filipino men are poliomyelitis, stroke, Freeman Sheldon Syndrome, blindness, chronic osteomyelitis, and deafness.

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a disease that could cripple a person. Its virus (called the poliovirus) can spread from person to person and invade the infected person’s brain and spinal cord. It was what had afflicted Rico Marquez, a Leyte native who was still able to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology at the Baptist Theological College in Cebu. He was also still able to finish master degrees in Divinity and Educational Leadership at the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California then founded a church for the Filipinos in Pinole. He had a wife and two children.

Stroke, on the other hand, is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). It was what had caused paralysis in Fernando Kabigting’s right hand. It was also what had blinded the left eye of the painter. He just struggled to continue painting with his left hand using watercolor and had solo exhibitions at the United Nations in New York City, the Ayala Museum in Makati, and at the Italia Gallery in Bacolod.

A condition that primarily impinges on the face, hands, and feet, Freeman Sheldon Syndrome is the disorder that Raymond Martin had been born with. His unusually small mouth (microstomia) did not stop him to win gold medals, though, during the London 2012 Paralympic Games where he was recognized as the Sportsman of the Year.

Otherwise known as visual impairment, blindness refers to a lack of vision. It can be partial, which means a very limited vision; or complete, which means not being able to see anything, even light. People in third-world nations usually have poor vision and this was what Ronnel del Rio had been afflicted with. Despite his physical limitation, though, Ronnel still became a “voice of reason and awareness,” heading the Philippine Chamber of Massage Industry for Visually Impaired, the Federation of Disabled Persons in Lipa, and the PWD advocacy group Punlaka once. He also became involved with the Philippine Coalition on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Philippine Mental Health Association, and the Housing and Homesite Regulatory Affairs Office in Batangas. He has had a Master’s degree on Management Technology in De La Salle University in 2003.

Osteomyelitis is the infection of the bone and the bone marrow. It may be subdivided into acute, subacute, and—what power lifter and swimmer and mountain climber Arnold Balais is in—chronic stages. This phase did not deter him in competing for the Paralympics, ASEAN Paralympics, and the Malaysian Paralympiad, though.

Not being able to hear partially or completely has still led Romalito “Rome” Mallari to win the Best New Actor in a Movie during the 2010 Star Award for Movies. He was also nominated for a Golden Screen Award for his roles in Ganap na Babae and Dinig Sana Kita. Most recently, he was involved in the 2015 film Taklub, which was screened and well received at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Have faith that you have the potential, the capacity to succeed. God will give you strength to finish and accomplish your dreams.” ~ Rico Marquez

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of khanacademymedicine

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of HealthSketch

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Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Dr. Najeeb Lectures

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jessica Le

Pushing for the PWDs’ education

Educating persons with disabilities in developing countries such as the Philippines calls for money and resources. As it is, many developing countries’ school budgets cannot already cover all of the mainstream students that need to be taught.

The teachers there also do not have any special needs training1. The schools’ buildings may not be wheelchair-accessible or the PWDs themselves do not even have wheelchairs. The books may not be enough for the sight-impaired students to share with their classmates without disabilities and the hearing-disabled students may not have the hearing aid resources they need.

Some developing countries deem PWDs to be cursed and, therefore, should be avoided. Educating them alongside students without disabilities could, therefore, present a problem for the parents of the latter.

But educating PWDs and non-PWDs together could let those with disabilities in developing countries fully assimilate into the culture of where they are. It is invariably “a way of giving disabled and special needs students2 access to an education and helping them become accepted into society as full, participating members.”

It is said that the greatest percentage of PWDs reside in developing countries; approximately 80% are in Africa, Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Some of them are among the countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This goes without saying that they adhere to inclusion and inclusive education, which is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD3.

Educating PWDs alongside non-PWDs in developing countries should be considered now so that there will soon come a time that helping PWDs will just come naturally. There would be no need for rules anymore and education for PWDs will cease to be an “unaffordable luxury” or “non-crucial” because of the degree of financial expenditure and human involvement.

Arguably, a lack of education is the greatest disability of all, and these disabled individuals must suffer the deprivations of educational disability along with physical or mental disability.”

1If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating a PWD from their peers to segregated classes and schools.

2Aside from PWDs, inclusive education also encompasses to heads of households, former child-soldiers, street children, orphans, child prostitutes, and children of war and displacement.

3Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ABS-CBN News

2018, for inclusion!

Call it cluster sampling if you may, but the summaries previously conducted on 12 countries in this blog have proven the necessity of inclusive education in the world.

Inclusive education refers to the idea of PWDs and non-PWDs alike studying at the same school. Everyone could lead “regular” lives. Everyone could have a chance to appreciate diversity. Everyone could also learn academic and social skills at their own pace within an appropriate environment.

The inability of a country to implement inclusive education till now cannot really be blamed on its economy. While it is true that money is needed to build schools and provide training, a positive attitude is also necessary to achieve inclusive education.

Take for example Kenya, the 40th poorest country based on the assessment of the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook Database in October 2016. Poor as it is, it has managed to enact the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 and specified a solid framework for the development of a truly inclusive education system in the 2010 Kenyan constitution. It has also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), believing that PWDs and non-PWDs studying together.

Even Bhutan, the 72nd poorest country in the same list, has  signified its confidence on inclusive education through the frameworks Standards for Inclusive Education, National Education Policy, Individual Education Plan (IEP), and Education Sector Strategy 2020. It has also devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to enable free education up to the tenth grade.

Of course, there’s still a challenge; inclusive education here is synonymous to letting girls study. But Bhutan has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to get the idea started. It has also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All-Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).

Even the “rich” country Norway would like to let PWDs and non-PWDs study together.1 It has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education. Norway also legislated the Education Act2, initiated adapted education3, and established the Institute of Education4.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” ~ Ignacio Estrada

1It is the 182nd poorest country of the 187 assessed.

2Learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go to their local school.

3This train teachers in adapting to different kinds of learners.

4The institute train SPED teachers.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of educause

Inclusive Education in New Zealand

New Zealand has two proofs that it cares for the persons with disabilities in the country: the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ and the St Theresa’s School.

BLENNZ is a Ministry of Education-funded national school that provides educational programs and specialist support services to children and young people who are blind, deaf-blind, or with visual acuity of 6/18 or less. It offers unique immersion courses from its Homai campus in Manurewa to those aged 0 to 21 from all over New Zealand.

Each course targets particular skills and group together students according to age, skill need or eye condition. The specialist teachers referred to as the resource teachers: vision (RTVs) are the ones who assess a child’s needs then team him or her up with the other staff to provide the best support possible.

St Theresa’s School, on the other hand, integrates deaf education and culture into its institution. It also hosts sign language classes once a week (every Monday).

Also known as Aotearoa, New Zealand has begun showing concern for its PWDs in 1877. It has introduced then a centrally funded system of regionally controlled schools for all children from 5-15 years old. Then in 1993, it signed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has aimed to achieve a world-class inclusive education over the following decade. This was congealed in the New Zealand Disability Strategy in 2001 comprising of 15 objectives­, one of which is about providing the best education for disabled people.”

It was also required by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote access, inclusion, empowerment, equality, and the right to education upon its ramification to the agreement in 2008. Disability has nothing to do with the impairments persons with disabilities in New Zealand have, anyway. It is more of the process that happens when the “normal” ones design the world only for their way of living. (Ministry of Health, 2001).

Through the New Zealand Education Act, children with disabilities in the country have been entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school from five to 19 years old (Education Act, 1989, section 3). They have the same rights to enroll and receive education at state schools as any other child in New Zealand (section 8).

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has also developed the website Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools to support the government’s vision of all schools demonstrating inclusive practices by 2014. It is actually one of the initiatives of Success for All that envisions a fully inclusive education system to result in confident educators; parents, families, whänau and communities.

The goal of educational inclusion is not to erase differences, but to enable all students to belong within an educational community that validates and values their individuality.” ~ Stainback, Stainback, East, and SapponShevin (1994)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of vanAschTV

Inclusive Education in Kenya

Aside from the magic its tourism board asserts, Kenya has provided for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the country. It has paved the way for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, fining anyone who would offend PWDs with up to twenty thousand shillings or to a year of imprisonment.

The Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has exempted PWDs as well from paying for the recreational facilities owned or operated by the Government. Materials, articles and equipment, including motor vehicles, could also be exempted from import duty, value added tax, demurrage charges, port charges, and any other government levy if they are modified or designed for PWDs.

In the country’s courts, Kenyan PWDs do not have to pay legal fees. The latter—may they be the victim or the accused—have been entitled to free sign language interpretation, Braille services and physical guide assistance.

All television stations in Kenya shall provide for a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts. All persons providing public telephone services shall install and maintain units for persons with either hearing or visual disabilities.

Kenya’s respect for the PWDs in it started as far back as 1980 when it declared the National Year for People with Disabilities. Its Ministry of Education even initiated the Educational Assessments and Resource Services to improve its services for special education students.

Four years after the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has been passed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed. It was ratified the next year and became the basis for the National Kenyan Constitution in recognizing disability rights.

Locally, Kenya has been helped by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) that consists of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Kenya Society of the Physically Handicapped, and other organizations. It has appointed a taskforce to review the laws related to PWDs and collect the public views.

Internationally, it has five international organizations to assist PWDs: the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Sightsavers, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Leonard Cheshire Disablity.

The CBM Kenya has been working against “blinding trachoma” and aims to eliminate the disease completely by 2019. It was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust carrying out surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities, and improving environmental conditions to prevent trachoma.

The DREDF, first established in Berkeley, California in 1979, is a legal service center backing up disability rights. It has started the Disability and Media Alliance Project http://d-map.org/ to bring the disability community and the media industry together, and continues to shape the legal and policy strategies needed to promote its vision in the United States and worldwide.

The Sightsavers, on the other hand, believes that 80% of blindness in the world is avoidable. So it has helped the citizens of India, Africa, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, and Ghana with eye problems.

It has also assisted 13-year-old Flash Odiwuor even though he has another kind of ailment: polio. He was struck down with it and lost the use of both his legs. Only through the Sightsavers’ inclusive education program was he able to go back to school—at the Nyaburi Integrated Primary School, to be exact—along with other Kenyans who can see.

The IFES has more or less the same vision as the DREDF: it aims to empower the underrepresented. But unlike the DREDF that focuses on everything that entails a legal process, the IFES has provided technical assistance to election officials so that everyone can participate in the said political process.

The Leonard Cheshire has pioneered inclusive education strategies for girls with disability in Kenya. It has targeted 2,050 female PWDs in 50 primary schools in the Lake Region.

“I am so happy to be back at school. The headmaster gave me a wheelchair so I can now move around as much as I want.” ~ Flash Odiwuor

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Luke Sniewski

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham