Archive for the ‘Deaf Experiences’ Category
So, even in a rich country like Canada, discrimination against the deaf still exists. Their main reason is that it would be costly, $91,500 to be exact, for them to shoulder her “disability”. Would the discrimination also be because she is a foreigner, specifically, a Filipino? This action is what we Filipinos termed as “Pera pera lang pala yan!” (It’s just a money thing.) tsk tsk tsk
Filipino caregiver Karen Talosig is faced with the choice of giving up her teenage daughter in the Philippines or her dream of permanent residence in Canada.
After waiting in the queue for her immigrant status for five years, Talosig received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada this week that her 14-year-old daughter, Jazmine, has been found “medically inadmissible” to join her in Canada because she is deaf.
While immigration officials speculated Jazmine’s deafness could cost Canadians $91,500 for health-related services over five years, Talosig said the girl is just a normal kid and does not require any special care.
“Jazmine loves photography. She loves dancing. She enjoys cooking with my mom. She likes Selena Gomez like a lot of teenagers do even though she can’t hear her music,” said Talosig, 38, who says she works four jobs, up to 80 hours a week, looking after children, the elderly and a paraplegic client in Vancouver.
“She is very independent, highly functional. The only difference is she is deaf. She was born so profoundly deaf that even a hearing aid is not needed. To me, the government’s decision is discriminatory.”
A registered nurse in the Philippines, Talosig came to Canada in 2007 under the then live-in caregiver program. In 2010, she worked enough hours to qualify for permanent residency and submitted her application.
Talosig’s immigration application was opened at the Manila visa post at the end of 2013 and Jazmine was asked to submit to a medical exam, during which authorities learned she was deaf. Last June, Talosig was asked to file further documentation on the girl’s condition and needs.
“Your child . . . is a person whose health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on social services in Canada,” said the June 3, 2014, letter from the Canadian embassy in Makali City.
“This client has bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss (deafness) that might reasonably lead to her requiring social services (special education funding) the cost of which would likely exceed the average Canadian per capita costs over five years.”
Based on reviews of Jazmine’s medical file and history, both the Burnaby Public School Board and the British Columbia Provincial School for the Deaf have submitted support letters arguing that the girl will not likely require special education funding.
“We do not anticipate any additional costs to educating Jazmine at the B.C. School for the Deaf, beyond the regular per pupil funding for all students in B.C.,” wrote the board’s assistant superintendent Heather Hart.
Helene Whitfield, who has hired Talosig to look after her two children for years, said the family’s supporters, including relatives and other employers, have promised to provide for all Jazmine’s needs if required.
“Karen is hardworking and trustworthy. She works four jobs in order to cover all her legal fees. She raised my child at the expense of not raising her own,” said Whitfield.
“After almost a year of providing the Manila visa post with every item of documentation, they still refused the child to join her mother here in Canada, and now the mother has to either give up her rights to the child or leave Canada. Neither of which is a good option.”
Whitfield said a decision on “excessive demand” of social services should be based on the actual circumstances of an individual and not on general stereotypes.
Talosig said she has written to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in the hopes he will listen to her plea and reverse the bureaucrats’ decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
“I’m just devastated,” said Talosig. “Jazmine’s father died of a severe asthma attack when she was 8-months-old. I had to leave her to my parents when she was 7. I’m all she has. All we want is to reunite in Canada and have a better life here.”
Both Alexander’s office and the immigration ministry declined to comment on the case, but said Talosig has been given another 60 days to respond to the notice officials sent her this week.
This is again another act of discrimination against the deaf! Binibining Pilipinas is a national organization which holds the annual search for Filipina beauties who will represent the country in international contests such as Ms. Universe, Ms. International, Ms. Tourism and Ms. Supranational. According to their website’s FAQ, here are their requirements:
- A single lady, 17 to 25 years old
- A Filipino citizen, minimum 5’6” in height with pleasing personality
- At least a high school graduate and of good moral character
Now, let us check the requirements of Christine Balaguer:
- A single lady, 17 to 25 years old – Check!
- A Filipino citizen, minimum 5’6” in height with pleasing personality – Check!
- At least a high school graduate and of good moral character – Check!
I don’t see any requirement saying, Can hear and speak. Then why the hell was she asked to resign? She is already among the finalist and passed the batteries of test before landing into the top 34. Why? Why? Why?
Here is Rappler.com’s news article about this glaring discrimination published last month:
Deaf candidate Christine Balaguer removed from Bb Pilipinas 2015
Christine says being asked to resign by the organizers has left her ‘depressed’ because it was her big dream to be the first deaf candidate to compete.
MANILA, Philippines – Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BCPI) has replaced Christine Balaguer in the official list of candidates for this year’s pageant.
On her Facebook page, Christine said that she was asked by BCPI to resign, which made her “depressed.” She added that it was her big dream to be the first deaf candidate to compete.
Christine was replaced by Cannielle Faith Santos from Marilao, Bulacan. Christine previously joined Miss World Philippines 2014, where she placed in the Top 10. (READ: The Binibining Pilipinas 2015 returning hopefuls)
She is the second candidate to be replaced in this year’s list. Candidate #9 Kimberle Mae Penchon dropped the competition and was replaced by Maolin Yalung. – Rappler.com
Paging BCPI!!! Count this blogger as one of those protesting against this discrimination!
Two days ago I received a greenish glittering letter from a former deaf student inviting me to attend his Catholic Church wedding celebration. Of course, I would also assume that he did not invite me just as a mere spectator. He, together with his mom, went to our school and hand carried the letter requesting me to interpret in his wedding this February. I was out of the office that day. But I already knew his purpose because he is my FB friend and he already contacted me there.
I got excited when I received the invitation. The last time I interpreted in a deaf wedding was a couple of years ago. It was a civil one and held in the office of a police official/lawyer in Manila City Hall. Again, aside from interpreting, I also stood as one of the couple’s witness (Filipino culture’s Ninong sa kasal). Today they celebrated their son’s first birthday and again invited us in his baptism. But I begged off in attending because I already have prior commitment on that day.
Weddings are truly a wonderful event. It symbolizes sanctity and strength in a relationship. But does it actually seal the relationship? Does it help in keeping the bond between husbands and wives stick and last “till death do them part”? Now, what about deaf relationships? Does it hold true for them?
A week ago, I saw a Facebook post of an extremely happy deaf mother of a newborn hearing baby boy. She was very proud of her baby that she even posted hospital videos with the father. She was my student many years ago.
Her family was super strict that they don’t want her to end up with that deaf guy (who was her classmate) whom they believe has no future. So they never consented to their relationship. But were they able to prevent them from continuing their affair? Hugely! She remained unmarried.
Last Saturday, I attended a widely announced Deaf Expo in SM Mall of Asia. Even though I had to do tons of work on that day, I bought an expensive ticket and attended the event. One of my reason is to see the latest developments in technologies for the deaf. But frustratingly, there wasn’t any that was exhibited. But as a consolation, I was able to meet long time deaf students from as far back as few years from where MCCID started, in 1993!
I made a few chit-chats here and there, the deaf culture way. But what surprised me was that majority of my male deaf students were already separated from their deaf wives! Most of them had church weddings. I attended and even interpreted for a couple of them. Most of these men have stable jobs. Why then were their relationships did not end with the “happily ever after” way? I also thought that having a deaf-deaf relationship would be very successful because there won’t be any communication problem. And does religion have to do with it? These situations among deaf couples are truly alarming.
I politely asked them what happened. One guy said his wife wants to go abroad so she was secretly making contact with a deaf foreigner. She is now in another country with him. The other guy said her wife doesn’t love him anymore so she left. But she also left their child under his care.
Two weeks ago, one of my earliest deaf students visited the school asking for authentication of her credentials. She was one of those whom I’ve helped getting a job in the highest office of the country. She is very close to me. I asked her how she is. She said everything’s fine. I then asked how his deaf husband is, she also said fine but with reservations. I did not inquire more. Later on, I found out that she confided with his former teacher where she revealed that they are already separated. Sheezz!
What went wrong? What formula works and what doesn’t?
One of my favorite deaf student whom I really admire for his wit and humor celebrated his simple birthday this week. He’s already in his early 30s but still unmarried. I jokingly asked why he is still unhooked. He replied, he’s already too old, his true love is already married to his deaf childhood friend and he enjoys being single. True enough, I have witnessed many of my deaf students remained single and they enjoy life. All of them are heterosexuals and some even sired children from other deaf girls. But is this the right path?
I have one deaf student who is inviting me to attend the first birthday of his son next week. He completely loves and supports his child. But not his child’s mother. So they remained unmarried.
Relationships are very hard to understand even for the deaf’s perspective. Were they properly informed about the consequences of their actions? I think so especially now with the rapid advancement of social media. Were they greatly influenced by others? I am inclined to believe so. Is there a moral deterioration going on among the Filipino deaf? I hope not.
Today is Valentine’s Day. This is the day where red roses and chocolates are bestsellers and “love is in the air”. Yet this is one of the most overrated celebrations we have. Can we have Valentine’s daily instead of just every February 14?
I may never fully understand the deaf’s psyche. But I always remind them to seek God’s guidance and always choose to be happy no matter what.
Mr. David Lozada of Rappler.com made a very interesting and informative article about the inspiring activities of Deaf organization in Cebu led by my idol and Ashoka Fellows of 2015, John Paul Maunes. I copy-pasted it here. The original article which was published in January 27, 2015 appears here. Cheers!
‘There is a worldwide movement viewing deafness as a culture beyond hearing impairment, and the community of the deaf as a cultural and linguistic minority has become visibly accepted in global circles of advocacy’
MANILA, Philippines – It all started as a high school volunteering activity that evolved into a lifetime commitment. Now, thirty-year-old John Paul Maunes is making waves of change for the deaf community in the Philippines.
Maunes, who has been serving as the executive director of the Gualandi Service Volunteer Program (GSVP) for the past 3 years, dreams of seeing a “deaf-inclusive” society where sign language is available everywhere.
“(A society where) deaf and persons with disabilities (PWDs) can freely communicate and understand each other and maximize each others’ potentials without bias and prejudice, where each person can freely exercises his/her rights in a nurturing and protective environment,” he added.
Disability, he said, is not just a physical limitation. It is an ever “evolving concept.”
“Disability is the direct result of the interaction between a person with PWD and the attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others,” Maunes, who co-founded GSVP in 2005, explained.
‘Breaking the silence’
GSVP’s main advocacy is to unearth and prevent sexual abuse of deaf women and children, which has risen to alarming numbers in recent years.
A 2012 report by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC) noted out of the 213 known cases of deaf sexual abuse from 2006 to 2012, only 24% have court-appointed interpreters, 44% have volunteer interpreters, 21% have unconfirmed appointed interpreters, and 11% had no interpreters.
Most of the perpetrators were hearing males. Deaf female complainants struggle in court proceedings, according to the GSVP. This was how the “Break the Silence” (BTS) network of GSVP came to be.
BTS trains and mentors non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and deaf people’s organizations (DPOs) in strategic locations across the country to address the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
“It’s a functioning network where ideas, experiences, difficulties, and success stories would be shared with one another in order to affect change for the benefit of deaf children all over the Philippines,” Maunes said.
GSVP saw that one of the reasons why abuse of deaf women and children is not discussed is the inability of law enforcers to understand the victims.
This is why GSVP trained members of the local police, judiciary, schools, and social welfare officers in deaf culture awareness and Filipino Sign Language (FSL) trainings to improve the delivery and support for the deaf and provide accessibility to sign language interpreters in court.
The BTS Project has already empowered at least 2,000 deaf children and women, handled nearly 40 cases in court, and trained 1,000 stakeholders in communities since it’s founding.
In November 2013, Maunes led the establishment of the Information and Police Access for the Deaf (IPAD) program in partnership with the Philippine National Police in Region VII.
“This provides a deaf desk in police stations to give assistance for the deaf and improve and develop police skills in reporting and filing cases involving the deaf,” Maunes added.
Because of the breakthrough on the BTS project, GSVP was recognized as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) in the Philippines in 2013. It was also awarded as the first recipient of the Jesse Robredo Youth and Local Governance Award in February 2014.
Senator Bam Aquino, TAYO Awards chair, saw the importance of the BTS project, leading him to file 2 Senate Bills – SB 2117, which requires the use of FSL inset for local news program, and SB 2118, declaring FSL as the National Sign Language of the Filipino Deaf.
‘Cultural and linguistic minority’
Aside from the financial challenges, Maunes said the biggest challenge to his advocacy is the negative public perception about PWDs.
“Since nobody has been doing it, we had to pilot our programs. The absence of policies and laws in education and participation that directly benefit deaf people makes it more difficult,” he added.
Majority of government offices and agencies tasked to provide services for PWDs also see PWDs more as beneficiaries rather than partners and primary drivers in developing sustainable programs and projects.
“There is a worldwide movement viewing deafness as a culture beyond hearing impairment, and the community of the deaf as a cultural and linguistic minority has become visibly accepted in global circles of advocacy,” Maunes said.
“Unfortunately, government policies, particularly in education, have not kept up with the development of this progressive philosophy,” he added.
GSVP also advocates for deaf-friendly media. In 2005, the organization partnered with ABS-CBN to pilot the first ever television news inset interpreting to help increase awareness and access to information for the deaf. This led to regional stations of the country’s leading TV networks to provide deaf-friendly TV newscast with integrated FSL. (READ: How Pope Francis spoke to the deaf)
Because of his work for the deaf community, Maunes was named as one of the Ashoka Fellows for 2015 – a global network of leading social entrepreneurs recognized to have innovative solutions to social problems.
“What this means is that I will have widespread access to social entrepreneurs and resources through Ashoka. The bonus is on how you make the most of these opportunities. As many fellows will tell you, you will get as much out of Ashoka as you put in,” he said.
Founded in 1980, Ashoka has over 3,000 fellows working in 70 countries, using the network as an accelerator of change. The first Filipino Ashoka Fellow is Girlie Lorenzo, founder of Kythe Inc.
For Maunes, the Ashoka fellowship will help him spread his advocacy.
“To be selected as one of the pioneering Ashoka fellows in the country gives me the advantage and the prestige to catapult my advocacy work and amplify current issues that we are lobbying for in society,” he added. – Rappler.com
Last Wednesday (January 21), I was one of the invited resource speakers of Cebu Pacific Airlines. I have never imagined that I would be doing it! You see, I did many blog posts highlighting their blunders and blatant disregard about the welfare of Persons With Disabilities most especially the Filipino Deaf.
To refresh everyone’s memory, I made my first blog post about them in April of 2008 when
“Cebu Pacific Airlines refused to board ten deaf passengers on a flight to the world renowned Boracay Island. All ten were already seated inside the plane, when the crew told them to disembark, citing their policy that blind and deaf passengers had to be properly accompanied in order to be treated as regular passengers. If unaccompanied, “he/she may be accepted for carriage provided he/she can take care of himself/herself on the ground and in-flight.”
You may read the entire post here.
Then I made a series of posts about Cebu Pacific’s blatant disrespect on the rights of those with physical impairments here, here and here. Former Senator now Secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas made a letter seeking for inquiry about this matter. Other bloggers even picked up this incident by creating a stir within the community. I also made a post analysis about considering deaf people as flight risk .
In fairness to the company, they already made policy changes addressing the incident even months after the said incident. But this has been done after the case was filed by the PWD groups. I have no update about the status of the case. Their Guest Services Officer Mr. Ivan Gaw made a reply about this situation. It’s a pity I wasn’t able to meet him during my talk. The participants informed me that he attended the first day seminar.
Seven years later, I haven’t heard any more discrimination incidents. I guess the company has learned its lesson and really made many concrete changes regarding fair treatment for all passengers especially those with special needs.
When the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) invited me to handle the sensitivity seminar for the deaf, flashbacks of those old wounds again went back to my mind. During those days, I was really hoping that the company would invite me to explain to them the needs of deaf people. But sadly I wasn’t given the opportunity…. until now.
Entitled “Demo-Workshop on Handling Persons With Disabilities who Travel”, I was one of those chosen by NCDA to give a lecture about the deaf sector. They also had speakers for persons who are orthopedically impaired, visually impaired and those with intellectual disability. The participants were a good mix of supervisors, officers and policy makers.
When asked about the urgency in conducting the seminar, one of them replied that this was part of the company’s fulfillment of international requirement for their long-haul flights especially in the US where they will be servicing for the first time.
Part of my lecture was discussion about the challenges of deaf travelers which are:
- Deaf people can’t hear announcements and emergency or special attentions.
- Deaf people can’t make telephone call reservations or follow ups.
- Most airline TV monitors and on-board screens don’t have captions or inset interpreting.
Now, how do the deaf people handle these obstacles? Here is what I said:
- Deaf people can travel without a sign language interpreter!
- Deaf people can read!
- Deaf people can communicate through writing.
- Deaf people are very sensitive to other people’s body movements and gestures.
In other words, “Deaf people can survive all by themselves!!!!”
I even gave them my wish list of having inset sign language interpreter explaining their safety procedures. In their part, they said that most Cebu Pacific fleets are smaller crafts and don’t have monitors. However, they are considering my suggestions once they acquire air crafts with on-board screens.
I believe that conducting sensitivity seminars like this is step in the right direction. However, what I want for the company to do is to embrace a culture change and not just to comply with international requirements. That way every in-flight service crew, airline pilots and even those who prepare the on-board meals would always consider the needs of everyone including those with physical disabilities.