Is Signing Exact English the way to go for Filipino Deaf Education?

I got hold of an official letter of Deaf Advocate Jose Sales to Dr. Patricia Licuana, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education. It’s about his reaction regarding the ruling of the Department of Education (DepED)officially “declaring Signing Exact English as the official language to be used in deaf education.” Here is the complete letter:

July 22, 2011

Dr. Patricia B. Licuana, Ph.d
Chairperson, CHED
U.P. Diliman, Quezon City

Dear Dr. Licuana,

I just learned that DepED publicly declared that “SIGNING EXACT ENGLISH(SEE) IS THE OFFICIAL SIGN LANGUAGE TO BE USED IN DEAF EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF SPED INSTRUCTORS AND THAT THE METHOD OF INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE BOTH ORAL AND SEE”.

Does DepED properly aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) including their rights to proper education? UNCRPD clearly states that:

– UNCRPD article 3.h respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
– UNCRPD art. 24.3.b Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community.
– UNCRPD art. 24.3.c Ensuring that the education of persons and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual and in the environments which maximize academic and social development.

It is really against the Deaf rights as mentioned above and DepED’s ignorance of the UNCRPD.

You can’t force a Deaf children to learn in a way hearing people do because of their inability to hear. They should be taught in a manner that they could easily understand. You can’t also force them to speak if they could hardly hear anything to emulate. It is the SPED instructors/educators to adapt to the Deaf’s needs so that Deaf children/student could learn easily and conveniently. SPED instructors/educators should be properly educated and trained to effectively teach Deaf children/students.

It is a shame to hear from majority of Deaf who finished schooling that they only learned at below average – one of their main reason is the laxity and inexperienced of their teachers/educators to teach them effectively especially in FSL signing. Teachers usually give them seat work always in the excuse that they already “tired” signing SEE .

One example that I observed in our church in the presence of Deaf people with interpreter in front, the DEAF tends to become sleepy because of the interpreter’s “boring” SEE signing. But when an interpreter who are skilled in FSL signing is assigned, the Deaf people become attentive and could easily understand the message from preacher. This is what I also experienced myself as I am a Deaf and also one in the group.

I appreciate that future meetings of DepED of this nature must be transparent and adhere to the provisions of UNCRPD, Magna Carta for PWDs and others . May I also suggests that PFD and PDRC and other movers for effective Deaf education be included in meetings and discussions of this nature as mentioned in DepED PWD’s Education Provision Guidelines 2.3.1 which states that qualified PWDs should participate and/or be consulted in the planning and formulation stages of policies and programs.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Jose E. Sales
“Because there is (also) life after Deaf”
President – Metrowide Org. of the Deaf (MODE)
Outgoing Exec. Board – Phil. Federation of the Deaf (PFD)
Staff and member of Katipunan ng Maykapansanan sa Pilipinas (KAMPI)
Deaf Preacher – Word of Hope Church – Deaf Ministry

This is not good… not so good at all! Hearing people have been manipulating deaf education since the establishment of Philippine School for the Deaf in 1907, more than a century ago! Look what they’ve accomplished! Now, even if we are already bounded by UNCRPD, they are still defiant and want to do things on their own without consulting the deaf. This is truly sickening.😦


  1. The close equivalent to SEE is a creole, where two languages are mixed in order to create a rudimentary form of expression. Language can not be manipulated or controlled, it can only exist. Therefore, teach the ‘real’ languages to Deaf children ie. the national spoken/written and signed languages. And not the creole equivalent.

  2. I am going to address on effectiveness on Deaf education. First of all, SEE created and advocated by ignorant Hearing teacher s for the Deaf way back to prior of Seventies (’70s). As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) entering local hearing impaired school in first-ever batch in 1975, after passage of IDEA (Individual with Disability Education Act) I was forced to use oral first year and Pidgin Signed English (PSE) which is loosely based of ASL in classroom setting. SEE NEVER work because of lethal confusion to Signer of SEE on how s/he is able to read and write English along to his/her native language. To converse sign language effectively in Filipino classroom I strongly advocate employ PSE with flavor of both FSL and ASL. Why?

    Did you know American Sign Language stemmed in 5 parts that help to enrich ASL today? One is Old French Sign Language, mother of most sign languages in the world, from Russian Sign Language to ASL users in Singapore; two, from Martha Vineyard Sign Language, which is now extinct(gone); three, from Plain Indians Sign Language, which my descendant–Sioux Nations used to communicate with other tribes; and four, from classroom where students incorporate their home-signs from days of their childhood; and lastly five, from teachers who make up a sign from never-inventing sign for that word.

    In the same way Filipino Sign Language stemmed from 1) ASL (of course, it is a foundation), 2) local sign languages, 3) home-signs brought from students, and 4) teacher inventing sign per word. Please note that I am not in agreement to Mr. Rice, founder of Philippine School for the Deaf because 1) he was Hearing teacher who does not grow up learning ASL and 2) he brought and influence certain signs that is wrong in formation, and 3) he was NEVER challenged by other teachers for the Deaf. Do you ever recall how DPN2 (Deaf President Now) in Gallaudet University in 2008? The Board of Trustees choose late-Deafness lady to be its President. Lot of College students, Professors and Teachers, Gallaudet Alumni were against of her appointment. Problem are there: that woman learn how to sign when she was 16 or so and went to mainstream school and very unpopular professor in Gallaudet who are always ignorant to many issues and tend to be audism(things Hearing person know what Deaf needs but don’t). That made her “Hard of Hearing.” Majority of the members in the Board are Hearing who ignored many request that new Gallaudet University President should be native-signer who are purely Deaf.

    Very dangerous teaching method are also can be seen today: Hearing teachers that DON’T teach the right way or lax in education process among Deaf Filipino peers today. Some private schools for the Deaf operate by Hearing shareholders to benefit themselves with profit and dominance over Deaf students with fear and submission. That’s very bad light. We need more Deaf teacher that would be inspire Deaf students to follow their footsteps and go on as a teacher for and of and by Deaf. Same with district managers to large stores/restaurant, e.g. SM and Jollibee, a Supervisor Teacher, who know signs, would oversee education program include review lesson plans of all teachers who TEACHES instead skipping teach duty for money! Assessment and standard tests for students with disabilities must NEVER be timed; rather, a student should master those tests with keen ability and knowledge what they have.

    I like regional but I do question glossary of FSL itself. Do they made sense to signers and non-signers alike. Meaning of each word MUST correspond to sign itself like and . How many words do FSL glossary have? What do sign language linguists have to say when FSL pass its reviews? What about backcounty–outside of Metro Manila–do Deaf communities think of these changes? Did FSL advocacy poll and make national convention in regard of FSL itself–impartial with fairness and rational at promulgation of “communication enhancement”? At no case it should be “child-play” that would harm normal learning courses of each child. Is legitimization of FSL to be intelligible and can be understood, both in and out of the classrooms?

    Look at me, I aced standard tests and my reading level is at College level, cool Grade 13. ASL and PSE are two chief sign languages I use everydayMy wife is profoundly Deaf just like my late Dad, while my Mom grew up oral until 19 when he taught how to sign. My key is for learning at high pace: watch open/closed captioning or subtitled.

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