To wear a teacher’s hat or an interpreter’s hat?

If you are a sign language interpreter in the Philippines, there is almost 100% chance that you are also a teacher for the deaf. Although there is a significant upsurge of interpreters due to an increasing number of institutions that teaches sign language lessons, still, the most readily available place to seek their services are in schools for the deaf even though only quite a handful of them is experienced and qualified.

With these conditions, situations may arise wherein you are compelled to wear either a teacher’s hat or an interpreter’s hat. It is certainly not at the same time. But what if you are in a situation where you want to wear both hats or even switch hats in midstream?

interpreter or teacher

A month ago, one of our former deaf teachers in MCCID messaged me requesting for an emergency interpreting for our former deaf student. To protect his privacy and for ethical concerns, I will try not to mention anything that might reveal his identity.

Our teacher explained to me that the student’s mother died a few days earlier and is on the funeral wake. His father died a few years ago due to complications from alcohol abuse. Since the deaf is an only child, his aunt together with his uncle were the ones who took care of the funeral preparations. The aunt and uncle are siblings of his mom. They are also doing the legwork in processing their sister’s benefits and claims. His uncle and his family started living in their house when his father died. The deaf needs to know what is the cause of her mother’s abrupt demise and more importantly, what will happen to his future. Since no one in his family knows sign language, he is at a quandary. He needs someone to interpret for him clearly what was going on. So he requested for my service.

In our school, we conduct personal home visits to the families of our deaf students. As my former student, I am familiar with the situation of his family. When I went to the funeral the next day, I was greeted by his aunt and some of his relatives. She was very happy that I came and very relieved that finally, she can explain to her nephew about his situation through a sign language interpreter. With this, I safely wore my interpreter’s hat.

house visits
MCCID Conducts Home Visits to Families of Deaf Students

Now here is what I gathered. The deaf’s mother was a public school teacher for nearly three decades. So she is entitled to many benefits like pension, burial, funeral, etc. Aside from that, her co-teachers and school staff raised up a substantial amount of money as their contribution to the family. Her former students also collected money as a donation. She was a Philhealth member and has health insurance so her hospital bills were all taken care of. But what is highly significant is that her mother owns a sizeable parcel of land within the center of a highly urbanized part of Metro Manila where they have been residing since the deaf was still in his grade school.

The deaf confided in me that he was very much suspicious about what was going on. In fact, his friend messaged him through FB cautioning him about what his relatives might do with the property and money. He then suggested that the deaf consults a lawyer about it. What’s weird is that when the deaf showed the message to his uncle, he immediately took his smartphone away from him, scolded him while telling him not to believe whoever is advising him. I sensed that his relatives want to keep him in the dark.

At first, his aunt wanted to talk to me alone to inform me about the entire situation and requested me just to relay everything to the deaf. I refused. I want the deaf to be present when both her aunt and uncle explain everything. I told her that I was only called there as her nephew’s interpreter and they need to talk directly to him. They were adamant. So I started to talk loudly voicing what the deaf wanted in order for other funeral visitors to hear. Because of that, they had no other choice but to accept the deaf’s demand. We then started our lengthy interpreting session.

I don’t claim that I have vast knowledge about family code and jurisprudence. But with this situation, I believe that it is the child who should be the main beneficiary regardless of his disability. Upon further inquiry, I found out that the mother did not leave any last will and testament. But still, it does not negate his rights as the sole inheritor. Why are they not telling everything straight to the one and only heir of the family? I felt that they were trying to hide something from him.

I was very much egging to switch hats because I really felt that he was being taken advantage. As a teacher, I have the moral authority to give advice to my former student and remind his relatives about his rights which are guaranteed by the state. Besides, I was not expecting that they will pay me for my services which they actually did not. So technically, I can wear the teacher’s hat. But then, I still restrained myself and went there just to interpret. It’s unfortunate but it’s life. In hindsight, did I do the right thing?

Now, if you were in my situation, which hat will you wear?

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Hindi Lahat ng Kapansanan ay Nakikita #thinkoutsidethechair

Ilang araw pa lang ang nakakalipas, nakita ko itong isang Facebook post na nangangampanya tungkol sa “encouraging people to print and display a new symbol that represents both visible and invisible disabilities“. Na-curious ako kung ano ito kasi naisip ko na ang sektor na aking ginagalawan ay bahagi ng tinatawag na “hidden disability”.

Nang i-click ko ang kanilang official FB post, kinuha ko itong patungkol sa kanila:

#thinkoutsidethechair is a collaborative movement and campaign designed to challenge and change the current thinking around disabilities. This initiative seeks to inform, engage and educate to see all Australians live harmoniously in communities that celebrate inclusion and diversity in an effort to see beyond the chair because Not All Disabilities Are Visible.

disabilitysymbolwhitebackgroundKampanya pala nila ito sa Australia upang ipaunawa sa mga tao na hindi lahat ng may kapansanan ay nakikita. Kasi kapag sinabi mo sa ibang tao na “may kapansanan”, ang unang unang sumasagi sa isip nila ay ang wheelchair. Sa totoo lang, pati nga ang kinikilalang simbolo ng kapansanan sa buong mundo ay ang taong naka-upo sa wheelchair. Yan na kasi ang nakagawian ng mga tao. Makikita mo yan sa parking areas, upuan sa bus at tren at maging pag pumipila ka pag may transactions ka sa gobyerno o kahit sa mga bangko.

Pati nga sa WordPress, pag-i-search mo ang salitang “disability” mga ganitong images ang lalabas:

Image search results showing wheelchairs
Image search results showing wheelchairs

Pero ang di alam ng ibang mga tao ay higit na marami pa ang mga uri ng kapansanan na hindi nakikita. Tuloy hindi nila alam kung paano nila pakikitunguhan ang mga may kapansanan ng maayos at hindi sila nakakasakit ng kapwa.

Kapag -igoogle mo ang salitang disability, lalabas ang ganitong resulta:

Different types of disabilities

    • vision impairment
    • deaf or hard of hearing
    • mental health conditions
    • intellectual disability
    • acquired brain injury
    • autism spectrum disorder
    • physical disability

Pag titignan mong maigi ang listahan na ito, isa lamang ang kapansin-pansin ang “kapansanan”. Yan ay ang PHYSICAL DISABILITY. Halos lahat ng kapansanan ay HINDI NAKIKITA. Isa na rito ay ang “deaf or hard of hearing” group. Maaaring ang “vision impairment” ay madali ring mapansin dahil kadalasan nakasuot sila ng dark eyeglasses o kaya ay gamit nila ang kanilang white cane habang naglalakad. Tatlo sa mga nakalista ay patungkol naman sa may kapansanan sa pag-iisip na isa ring hindi nakikita.

Ang maling akala ng iba ay ang naka-wheelchair lang ang kailangang pag-tuoonan ng higit na pansin. Kaya nilalayon ng campaign na ito na bigyang kaalaman ang lahat ng mga tao na gawing pantay-pantay ang pagkilala at pagbibigay ng tulong sa taong nakakaranas ng iba’t ibang uri ng kapansanan.

Sa grupo ng mga bingi at mahina ang pandinig, sila din ay dumaranas ng higit na diskriminasyon dahil hirap sila maka-access sa impormasyon na nakukuha sa iba’t ibang paraan. At ang pinakamasakit sa lahat, ni hindi man lang nila nakakausap ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay dahil karamihan sa kanila ay isa lamang sa bawa’t pamilya. Ang kanilang mga magulang at kapatid ay malayang nakikipag-kwentuhan  sa isa’t isa at nagbabahagi ng kanilang mga pang-araw araw na activities samantalang ang mga deaf ay naisasantabi na lamang.

Pero pag titignan mo sila, parang mga regular na mga tao lang sila. Naalala ko yung isang nanay na inenroll nya ang kanyang isang anak na deaf, tinanong ko siya kung ilan silang magkakapatid. Sagot nya,

Yung panganay ko po at bunso ay normal. Sya lang ang hindi.

Ay, bigla ko syang kinorek ng malumanay. Sabi ko,

Nanay, normal din naman po yung isa nyong anak. Hindi lang po sya nakakarinig. Kasi ang kabaligtaran ng normal ay abnormal. Hindi naman abnormal ang deaf diba?

Sagot ng nanay,

Ay oo nga po. Pero mahal na mahal po namin sya. Igagapang po namin ang pag-aaral nya.

Sadyang mahirap talaga ma-identify ang mga kapansanan na hindi nakikita sa pisikal na kaanyuan. Sana iwasan na lang natin na sila ay kutyain o kaya ay pagtawanan. Maging sensitibo naman sana tayo sa kanilang mga damdamin at pangangailangan. Ituro na din natin sa ating mga anak na igalang ang lahat ng mga tao lalu na ang ibang naiiba sa kanilang anyo at kilos.

Kung nais nyong makibahagi sa kanilang kampanya, maari kayong pumunta sa kanilang website: https://thinkoutsidethechair.com.au/ Huwag nyo lang po kalimutang isama ang kanilang official tag:
#thinkoutsidethechair

hindi lahat ng may kapansanan ay nakikita
Baka type nyo din i-share ang post na ito. Click nyo din po itong campaign poster na Filipino Version ng Campaign Badge, tapos i-save nyo sa inyong computer o i-post nyo sa po yung FB icon sa ibaba nitong post. May English Version po nito kung nais nyo. Ito po yung nasa ibaba. Salamat po!!!

not all disabilities are visible

Note: This is the first time I wrote a blog post here using entirely my mother language, Filipino although I already made a WordPress post in Pinoy Terps in Tagalog before. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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