This is an excerpt of Policy Notes entitled “Looking at conditions of persons with disability in Metro Manila” by Celia M. Reyes and Aubrey D. Tabuga of Surian sa mga Pag-aaral Pangkaunlaran ng Pilipinas (Philippine Institute for Development Studies) ISSN 1656-5266 No. 2009-09 (December 2009). The Policy Notes are observations/ analyses written by PIDS researchers on certain policy issues. The treatise is holistic in approach and aims to provide useful inputs for decision making. The authors are Senior Research Fellow and Supervising Research Specialist, respectively, at the Institute. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PIDS or any of the study’s sponsors. I only selected the part which involves the deaf people and their community within Metro Manila, the Philippines’ capital.
The need to understand the conditions of persons with disability (PWD) is not only linked with the country’s aim to reduce poverty and adhere to the goals stated in the 2000 Millennium Declaration but also and, more importantly, with the goal to improve the lives of PWDs in the long run. Persons with disability often belong to the poorest segments of the population as noted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP). Because of disability, the opportunities faced by PWDs are often far more limited than those by non-PWDs.
In the Philippines, efforts to help PWDs were renewed via the amended Magna Carta for PWDs (Republic Act 9442) passed in April 2007. This legislation aims to fully integrate differently abled persons into the mainstream of Philippine society.
Studies that examine the conditions of PWDs have, however, been very limited, with only case studies being available and with statistics being very rare. In fact, the latest official estimate available on the number of PWDs in the country can be obtained from the 2000 Census, with the figure placed at 1.2 percent of the total population or 942,098.1 This is 305,098 greater than the 1990 estimate and around 23,000 more compared to the 1995.
Here are some important key factors:
- Several other entities have also estimated the number of PWDs in the country. The Department of Health conducted a registration of PWDs in 1997 and counted 469,707 PWDs, a number that was claimed to be an underestimation of the number of PWDs in the country. Thus, the government does not officially recognize this estimate.
- Apart from these estimates, however, there are very scanty pieces of information about the PWDs. Even the latest census, the 2007 Census of Population, does not have information on PWDs because this variable, for some reasons, has been dropped from the questionnaire.
- This lack of information on the conditions of PWDs becomes a problem in coming up with appropriate programs for them. In response to this, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) collaborated in August 2008 with the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE) of Japan, a semigovernmental research institute working for international cooperation between developing countries and Japan, to undertake a survey on PWDs in Metro Manila.
- The survey covered four Metro Manila cities, namely, Makati, Pasay, Valenzuela, and Quezon City, and was conducted in partnership with the Social Welfare Office of each of these cities and various PWD organizations.
- The objective of the survey was to gather the socioeconomic profile and livelihood sources of PWDs as well as their access to programs and awareness of existing government policies aimed at improving their living conditions.
- This Policy Note presents and assesses the key findings of this groundbreaking survey on PWDs. By profiling the PWDs, it is hoped that the government and other stakeholders will be equipped with the necessary information on how best to help them improve their well-being.
There were more than 400 respondents included in the survey whose types of disability were visual, mobility, and hearing impairments. There were also a few who had multiple impairments.
In the survey, there were more male (62%) than female respondents (38%). Because the focus of the survey was on livelihood, the respondents included adults aged 15 years old and above.
The discussions that follow briefly summarize the key findings of the survey.
In the census, the respondent is asked if a household member has any disability. The definition of disability adopted in the census refers to “any restriction or lack of ability (resulting from impairment) to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Impairments associated with disabilities may be physical, mental or sensory motor impairment such as partial or total blindness and deafness, muteness, speech defect, orthopedic handicaps, and mental retardation.”
Survey on Hearing Impairments as compared to other disabilities indicates that: (emphasis mine)
- Majority of the hearing-impaired respondents were born deaf. The rest, meanwhile, became deaf before they reached the age of three.
- In terms of the degree of deafness, majority are totally deaf in both ears.
- The deaf respondents were more knowledgeable in the English language than in Filipino. Sixty three percent of them can actually write in English while only 16 percent can in Tagalog or Filipino.
- Less than half of them (45%) indicated that they did not know both spoken and written Filipino/Tagalog while only 13 percent did not understand written or spoken English. Fortunately, majority of them could communicate in Philippine sign language.
- The average educational attainment of PWDs is low. Only a third of the respondents have reached or completed high school level. About one-fourth of them have also either reached or finished college education. Another one-fourth, on the other hand, have only gone as far as elementary level (24%) while 8 percent did not even complete any grade. Those with mobility impairment had the highest average number of years of schooling while those with hearing impairment had the lowest.
- Men tended to have higher average years of schooling compared to women.
- About a third of the PWDs had Special Education, with about three-fourths (74%) among those with hearing impairment having had it while only a third of the visually impaired had it. Meanwhile, only 1 percent of the mobility-impaired took it.
- The PWDs have a low employment rate. Only half of the respondents had income-generating jobs and half were looking for jobs. A greater proportion of men (57%) had jobs compared to women (40%). The visually impaired had the highest proportion with jobs (72%) followed by the mobility-impaired (44%) and the hearing impaired(32%).
- Among those with jobs, 24 percent of the hearing-impaired worked as aide, helper, or messenger; 15 percent were working in the construction industry as helper, carpenter, maintenance worker, painter, or laborer; another 12 percent worked as factory worker or supervisor while only 9 percent were employed in ICT-related jobs.
- Among the types of impairment, the mobility impaired had the largest percentage (at 30 percent) inclined toward some types of business. The visually impaired came next at 25 percent while the hearing-impaired had the lowest proportion at 16 percent. Among the business ventures that they were engaged in were stores, street vending, room/house renting, umbrella repair, water delivery, electronic repair, junk collection/shop, shirt printing/printing press, bird trading, and home-based food business.
- Major sources of income differed according to the types of impairment. The hearing-impaired obtained most of their income from money received from family and friends. The hearing impaired therefore can be considered as the least independent among the PWDs interviewed.
- The visually impaired PWDs have higher average incomes than the hearing-impaired and mobility impaired. The average income for the year of the visually impaired with jobs was P76,270 while it was P45,667 for the hearing-impaired and P55,681 for the mobility-impaired. Note that 69 percent of the mobility-impaired earned higher than the poverty threshold. Among the visually impaired, 65 percent of them did while among the hearing-impaired, only 44 percent earned higher than the poverty threshold.
More on this plus my analysis in part 2.