Can we compare a hard-of-hearing from a deaf?

Or if I may rephrase my title, is it better to be a hard-of-hearing than to be a deaf person?

Erasmus, a famous Latin scholar during the Reformation once said,

in regione caecorum rex est luscus, or in English

in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Is the proverb also applicable to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing people?

Hard of Hearing (HoH) refers to someone who doesn’t hear well. This may be because they were born with a hearing loss or they may have lost some or all of their hearing later in life. Many hard of hearing people don’t know that they have a hearing loss.

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Deaf audience

A few weeks ago during our yearly National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPR) celebration, our deaf students were invited to attend the “Persons With Disabilities Networking with Employers Talkshop” hosted by the Persons With Disabilities Affairs Office of Quezon City. Resource speakers from various sectors of disabilities gave their “from rags to riches” stories and how they overcame their barriers to attain their success. As always, a great majority of those who attended were deaf people.

ndprtarpaulin
NDPR Tarpaulin

I should say, it was truly a very inspiring activity. However, when it came to the “hearing impaired” sector, the organizers chose a “speaker”. I consciously quoted the word speaker because he really can speak! His story started when in childhood, he emphasized that he can hear. His sense of sound eventually diminished as he grows older due to a disease. He is what the deaf studies call, “post-lingual deaf”.  He then mentioned about how he was bullied and discriminated during his elementary up until his college days. But then, he succeeded and completed his education.

Again, he experienced discrimination while applying for a job. Luckily, his passion for photography earned him a work in an online news site. Eventually he became a regular government employee. His is truly an “against all odds” testimony. Oh by the way, he only communicates through lipreading and writing. He confessed that he knows little sign language and he chose not to learn it.

Some deaf from the audience cannot hide their feeling of a tinge of envy from this successful guy. They signed, “good for him” because he can talk! “Good for him” because he has work! “Good for him” because he passed the Career Civil Service Examination (CSC) that is why he is now a regular government employee! Upon comparing their current situation, the deaf attendees started questioning themselves. “What would become of us?”

Let me state it clearly here. I AM NOT PREJUDICIAL AGAINST THE HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE. God blessed them with this residual ability to hear. They are what we call in graphics animation, the in-betweeners in the deaf world. They are neither here nor there. And since they can hear a little, then they are at an advantage compared to those who are profoundly deaf because probably once in their lifetime, they were able to appreciate sounds and speech clearly.

When one of the deaf participant asked a direct question to him, “you can hear that is why you found a nice job, now what about us who cannot hear?” Still another one asked him, “you passed the CSC Exam because you know Tagalog, now how about us who have a language barrier since we don’t know the language?”

 

reverse interpret
Me reverse interpreting MCCID’s Sir Ervin as he questions the speaker.

For these questions, he simply replied, “you must be more patient and strive harder.” Now this is such a tall order, an advice that is too difficult to fulfill. But then again, saying this would make us sound so pitiful and hopeless.

So I am more inclined to side with him and agrees with his reply. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “if someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two miles”. We must double our effort in achieving our goals. As another saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”

* – I deliberately did not mention the guy’s name because I don’t want to put him in a bad light. He is a good friend and I truly admire his tenacity and advocacy for his group. I may put his name here if he allows me to do so.

Philippine Census Leaves PWD Count

I count myself as one of those who affirmed with the sentiments of the disability council. MCCID was one of the fortunate places where the National Statistics Office handed over a census questionnaire. I personally read the form and was very disappointed that there was no question there about the number of PWDs residing in the school campus/dormitories.

The situation is truly lamentable because the Philippine government merely guesses the number of PWDs. That is why the services provided for their welfare are very inadequate. Census is very important because this is the basis on how the government will spend the people’s money. When are we going to learn?

Sticker posted by NSO at MCCID premises after getting the result of the questionnaire they provided.

You may view the original article on this link.

Census leaves out PWDs, angers disability council

Philippine Star

Deaf teen deemed ‘medically inadmissible’ to join mother in Canada

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

News below:

Image from thespec.com website

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.

 View the news from its original site from this link.

Filipino Deaf Candidate asked to resign from Beauty Contest

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.

CHRISTINE BALAGUER. File photo by Melvin Sia

CHRISTINE BALAGUER. File photo by Melvin Sia

MANILA, Philippines – Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BCPI) has replaced Christine Balaguer in the official list of candidates for this year’s pageant.

Christine was announced as one of the 34 candidates last January 10 and was photographed in some of the girls’ activities. (IN PHOTOS: The 34 Bb Pilipinas 2015 candidates)

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!

Cebu Pacific Airlines, the Filipino Deaf and Me

Me giving the lecture
My Presentation about “Deaf and Travel Sensitivity Seminar”.

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.

"Nothing about us without us". So I invited my uber-talented deaf protege Moises Libot to be my tandem.
“Nothing about us without us”. So I invited my uber-talented deaf protege Moises Libot to be my tandem.

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.

programwithfront
Program content and front cover where my name was included as one of the speakers.

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.

wishlist
My wish list of Airline Safety Procedure explained in sign language.

 

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. 🙂

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