Archive for the ‘Deaf Experiences’ Category

Interpreting from a Cellphone

One of my deaf students tagged me in her Facebook photo. In one of our House Visits wherein we interview the families of our deaf students in the comfort of their homes, a hearing parent who works in Dubai requested me to interpret her message appealing to her daughter to focus more on her studies. Since I cannot sign while holding the phone, one of my students volunteered to hold it for me. Cool! :-)

One of my Facebook friends and now my “kumare” since I’m the Godson of her baby daughter Dean Nicky Templo – Perez of College of St. Benilde, tagged me in his post about sign language interpreter’s day.  I didn’t know there is one? It turns out that Mr. Joshua Jones, a deaf-blind from Seattle, created a Facebook Group Account called “Official Interpreter Appreciation Day 2013” honoring sign language interpreters.  I was approved as a member a few minutes ago. :-)

This is what appears on their page which currently has more than 1,800 members:

We should show our appreciation to the interpreters. They work hard to help people to communicate via different languages. It is time for us to give the shout outs for their hard works. We did the polls here. We decided to do first Monday of May every year. May 1st will be our very first official Interpreter Appreciation Day.

The group declared that:

We celebrate our nurses on May 6, our Armed Forces on May 18, our teachers on May 7, and even our bosses on October 16. Today (Apr 24), it just so happens to be Administrative Professionals Day. But what about appreciation for the nimble-fingered professionals who break down communication barriers with the hearing world?

I have been a sign language interpreter in the Philippines since 1991. I love this work, although most of the time, I considered this as a thankless career. Living in a developing country such as the Philippines, sign language interpreters are “thought” to be just a helper or “Personal Assistant” of a deaf person and not a service provider. Interpreting, from the perspective of my countrymen, is not a profession but rather a mission or vocation and you must not expect any compensation from your work except, the “crown in heaven”.  View my entire post on another blog here.

That is why our Deaf citizens who are in need of interpreters are often being served by half-baked, unskilled and even unprofessional interpreters. Their reason for not rendering a better service is that they do this for free so don’t expect an excellent work.

My primary goal in blogging for the past five years is in order for people to become more aware and sensitive about the needs of the deaf while at the same time appreciate the work being done by service providers like us TERPS.

Deafview.com has a wonderful list of suggestions a deaf person might want to do in order to show his appreciation to his sign language interpreter. Come visit their page. Among those are educating your friends about what sign language interpreter does, small gifts or flowers and vlog them.

So it’s “official”. Sign Language Interpreter’s Day will be held every 1st Wednesday of May. Since the first Wednesday falls on May 1, which fittingly coincides with my country’s Labor Day, then, May 1, 2013 is SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS‘ DAY. Happy TERPS Day to all my colleagues in the sign language interpreting world. :-)

This is a repost from the Philippine Daily Inquirer written by Ador Vincent Mayol of Cebu Daily News.

7:20 am | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

A restaurant in Cebu City is facing charges after some waiters allegedly made fun of five deaf-mute customers and refused to give them a discount.

The five customers yesterday went to the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office to file a complaint against Boosog Lasang Pinoy Resto for violating Republic Act 9442 or the law amending the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

Spouses Joseph Gregory and Roslyn Onglatco, Almira Pacubas, Alyssa Rose Binghay, and Glenda Casa, however, were asked to submit a sworn-affidavit to the City Prosecutors’ Office, instead of a simple statement.

They are set to return to the prosecutors’ office today to file the complaint.

Lawyer Ralph Sevilla of Boosog Lasang Pinoy Resto earlier issued an apology to the five deaf-mute customers during a conciliation meeting at the barangay Kasambagan hall.

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy the complainants.

“We came up with certain things to pacify them. But they can go and file a case,” Sevilla said.

According to the complainants, they went last March 9 to Boosog Lasang Pinoy Resto on g Juan Luna Street in Cebu City.

Upon entering the restaurant, they noticed that one of the waiters was laughing and trying to immitate their hand gestures.

“When we saw those gestures, we felt insulted and hurt,” they said.

After eating, they asked for the bill and sought a discount as provided by RA 9442.

The complainants also showed newspaper clippings about PWD discounts.

They were told that the restaurant was not giving discounts to persons with disabilities (PWD).

They ended up paying the full amount of P1,187.

Section 32 (a) of RA 9442 entitles PWDs to “at least twenty percent (20%) discount from all establishments relative to the utilization of all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments; restaurants and recreation centers for the exclusive use or enjoyment of persons with disability.”

Sevilla said the management tried to review footage of the restaurant’s closed circuit television (CCTV) but they didn’t see the employees making fun of the complainants.

“We didn’t see anything,” he said.

The five customers insist they were subjected to ridicule and that the CCTV footage could have been edited.

“We were the ones who were there,” the complainants said through an interpreter.

Please ignore the “Deaf-Mute” tag. The article writer is not fully aware of the term usage. View the original article here.

Yesterday, I posted a Facebook status which says, “…. Filipino Sign Language struggle for acceptance continues… on November 27 at the House of Representatives…. ” This after the very heated argument which happened last November 19 during the Technical Working Group Sub-committee hearing on the discussion about the modification of the proposed Filipino Sign Language Bill. The “final” hearing will be held on the 27th.

Sub-committee Hearing

I was invited in the past two hearings representing our school, MCCID College. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. But it is imperative for me to participate on this one because I have already exhausted two excuses for not attending. :-)

I won’t mention most of what transpired, especially the debates which took nearly four hours. Cong. Antonio Tinio, principal author of the bill was very cordial and accommodating with all sides.

I was the first one who made an introduction as one of the resource persons. But I remained silent all throughout the proceedings. I won’t post any prominent names here except for congressmen, in order to respect their personal preferences. These are what I observed:

  • I’m sure some participants already noticed this. Every time a resource person comes in, he/she knows where he/she would sit in preference of his/her stand on the bill. I being an FSL advocate sat on the right side of the conference room near the front since I’m one of the early birds. So do most of the pro-FSL supporters! The “anti” FSL people were all conspicuously seated on the left! Was there a seat plan made or are we just all natural born psychics? :-)
  • A significant number of attendees, from the congressmen (paging, Cong. Rufus Rodriguez!) down to the deaf observers, still cannot distinguish the FILIPINO (language) from FILIPINO (group of people). Some of them are at a loss when they ignorantly pronounced that Filipino Sign Language means Tagalog language translated into sign language. One high-esteemed corporate head even mentioned about globalization. It is as if we dream of the Filipino Deaf becoming future Call Center Agents!
  • Two sign language interpreters were present. On the left, FSL interpreter while on the right, SEE with which some SEE advocates corrected the term as SIGNED ENGLISH Interpreters. But after careful observation, there were many instances when both of them were nearly signing identically! Is the SEE interpreter slowly switching to a much comfortable FSL or is the FSL interpreter making things easier by following English sentences in exact order? hmmm…
  • Some perceived that FSL is an anti-English language. That’s way too unfounded. All, and I mean ALL, Special Education Centers in the Philippines use English as a medium of instruction especially in the written form. Tagalog or Filipino language is taught sparsely. Some, including oral schools, scrapped Filipino subject altogether.
  • Quite a number of participants brag about their so and so decades of teaching the deaf or being deeply involved with the deaf community. Well, I guess the number of years of service won’t always make you a better servant.
  • When the voice interpreter code switched from English to Tagalog, some used that as a proof that FSL is indeed based on Tagalog. What a shameless exposure of ignorance!
  • Some “anti” FSL washed their hands into saying that they’re not really against FSL. They just don’t want it to be used as a medium of instruction in schools. But the proposed bill is not only confined in classrooms. It must be used in all media and services including courts, hospitals, government offices and TV news interpreting.
  • Majority of the attendees were from the academe. So the “fear” of FSL being used as the “sole” language in classrooms was loudly expressed.
  • The Filipino Deaf Community was raised up. Who can be identified as part of the community and who are those who are not? Who belongs to the big “D” and those in the small “d”? This “branding” of people is a tough nut to crack.

Now, what really excited me was that the heated discussions among hearing participants (including some deaf protagonists of course) spilled over to the deaf audience. I heard that during the first committee hearing, there was only one participant from the FSL group. As expected, he was succumbed by those who were not in agreement with FSL. And so he rallied the cause and the historic Deaf March for FSL bill transpired in the morning before the second committee hearing. FSL made a strong showing in round two.


But during this third hearing, the “SEE” group brought with them a group of their deaf supporters. So the so-called, pro-FSL and anti-FSL among the Filipino Deaf community “surfaced”. The real excitement happened when they gathered outside the conference hall after the session. It was there when they made exchanges of perspective about the cause. I cannot help but stayed on to see what their real sentiments were. When Cong. Tinio joined the discussion among the deaf groups, I volunteered to voice for him. Here is what I gathered:

  • The “SEE” deaf group were not TOTALLY AGAINST FSL. Some of them even signed in FSL. But what they don’t want is for FSL to be mandated in all schools. They only want FSL to be taught as one of the subjects and SEE to be maintained as the main medium of instruction. They simply don’t want FSL to be strictly imposed on them.
  • The “FSL” deaf group lightly argued that the law must be implemented and that FSL must be recognized in ALL schools.
  • Some asked if FSL will be implemented in all schools, will oral schools be included? How could that be? What about those who are late-deafened? Will there be exclusions on the bill? If that’s the case, then the essence of the bill, which is FSL for all will not be met.

In the end, the deaf community agreed to have further talks about the issues raised. What’s important is that they don’t close their doors into making their points heard. As for me, I still believe that FSL be recognized as a native language of the Filipino Deaf and must be taught during their formative years. But the Filipino Deaf must be given a choice. It is their right.

On to round four….. :-)

Br. Armin Luistro FSC at the lobby of the Scho...

Br. Armin Luistro FSC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I can remember, the Philippines’ Department of Education had always been implementing “Total Communication System”/”Signing Exact English” in educating the Filipino Deaf. But now, all I can say that the Filipino Deaf community truly live in exciting times. :-)

Here is the official letter of DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro addressed to Congressman Arturo Robes, Chairperson of Committee on Social Services of the House of Representatives with regards to their support in proposed Filipino Sign Language Bill (HB 6079). I took time to encode the letter and post it here because I am an advocate of accessible formats. PDFs are mostly not. Here is goes. :-)
Department of Education (Philippines)

October 11, 2012
HON. ARTURO B. ROBES
Chairperson
Committee on Social Services
House of Representatives
Quezon City

Dear Chairperson Robes:

This refers to House Bill No. 6079 entitled, “An Act Declaring Filipino Sign Language As The National Language Of The Filipino Deaf And The Official Language Of Government in All Transactions Involving The Deaf, and Mandating Its Use in Schools, Broadcast Media, And Workplaces.”

We commend the Honorable Antonio Tinio for proposing a statutory measure on declaring Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the National Language of the Filipino Deaf. We agree that the State shall promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities.

We share the same view that national and local state agencies shall uphold respect for their inherent dignity. Individual autonomy, and independence by guaranteeing accessibility and eliminating all forms of discrimination in all public interactions and transactions thereby ensuring their full and effective participation and inclusion in the society.

We also recognize that the State shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Filipino Deaf can exercise the right to expression and opinion. Thus, we must promote the use of sign languages embodying the specific cultural and linguistic identity of the Filipino Deaf.

On this note, we resepectfully recommend two simple but relatively substantial provisions in the bill. First, the bill should clearly define the meaning of the term “Filipino Sign Language” for the readers’ convenience in understanding the meaning of FSL.

Second, the bill must include a provision or set of provisions that shall indicate or refer to the period of initial and full implementation of the use of the FSL as medium of instruction in Deaf Education. This is in due recognition of the fact that most of the DepED teachers teaching children/youth with hearing impairment were trained using American Sign Language in schools. Thus, the shift from American Sign Language and Filipino Sign Language or the period of transition would allow flexibility on the part of the DepED to retrain and retool its teachers, revisit and reproduce its instructional materials, and develop FSL curriculum appropriate to each region/community.

We also take this opportunity to inform this Honorable Committee that FSL and its underlying principles have been incorporated in the substitute bill of the proposed K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Program approved by the House Committee on Basic Education last October 10, 2012. We hope that the members of the Committee on Social Services will render the same support to this proposed measure in pursuit of achieving our goal of providing quality and relevant education for all.

With the aforementioned, the DepEd would like to thank the Honorable Chairperson for giving us the chance to express our position with regard to the proposed declaration of the Filipino Sign Language as the national language for the Filipino Deaf. We are very much willing to sit down with Your Honor for a dialogue with the and in view of amplifying and clarifying the contents of this letter.

Sincerely Yours,

<signed original>

BR. ARMIN A. LUISTRO FSC

Secretary

You may view the original file in PDF Format here for purposes of comparison. :-)





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