Who’s afraid of a deaf driver?

Well, I’m not! As long as I’m not riding on the vehicle that he is driving.

That was the response of a participant in one of the Deaf Sensitivity Training which I conducted many times. I asked the trainees that question before showing them a couple of images that I boast as “success stories of deaf drivers” who made ingenious innovations in order to communicate with their passengers, as shown below.

Deaf Driver in Pampanga

deaf uber driver from sulu
Photo from “The Story Pedia

Deaf drivers are one of the most careful and law-abiding drivers. Also, “The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) stresses that deafness does not in any way limit a person’s ability to drive a car or other vehicles.” I have experienced riding on deaf drivers many times. They are very cautious and too focused on their surroundings that they navigate the road very smoothly.

Still, the participant’s reaction is not uncommon. In fact, according to Axleaddict.com, around 30 countries worldwide don’t allow deaf people to acquire a driver’s license.  Although the Philippines was listed among those who permit deaf drivers, that is not the case among most of them who applies for a license. I have assisted a handful of deaf people in applying for a license either as their sign language interpreter or accompanying them when I applied for mine. Most of the time, they are turned down. The main reason? They cannot hear. This is a huge hurdle for them.

lto form.fw
Sample Driver’s License Application Form of Land Transportation Office (LTO) with emphasis on “WITH HEARING AID” as one of the conditions

One of the five conditions that must be met is that a person who has a hearing problem must be “WITH HEARING AID”. Since the majority of deaf people I know are either not comfortable wearing hearing aids or using them is useless because they are already severe or profoundly deaf (people who can only understand sounds through vibrations), they won’t qualify for this. One of the procedures that they must undergo first is a medical examination which just basically checks their eyesight and hearing capabilities. They would automatically fail on this.

Still, quite a few deaf I know, especially in the provinces, were able to overcome this hurdle by applying “under the table” so to speak. But this path is costly, illegal and often dangerous to the license holders because they are always extremely cautious about not getting caught. Otherwise, their license could either be revoked and not be returned or the police officers would give them a very hard time by giving them numerous violations. This has been a huge issue among the deaf community which they have been addressing for many years yet remained unresolved. Until now…

Introducing, ALYANSA NG MAY KAPANSANAN NA NAGMAMANEHO NG SASAKYAN AT MOTOR SA PILIPINAS or ALKASAMOPI for short! Let me translate their Filipino name into English, hopefully, I am right. It’s ALLIANCE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WHO DRIVE MOTOR VEHICLES IN THE PHILIPPINES.  According to their Facebook Page, ALKASAMOPI

… is a Non Government Organization whose MISSION and VISION is to promote the camaraderie, brotherhood and equal rights & opportunities among individual Person With Disabilities (PWDs) especially PWD Driver & Riders ( commuters)

One of our objective is to integrate the Persons with Disability (PWD) to the mainstream of society by promoting safety driving and riding to assist them to exercise their rights and privileges and most of all to promote the equal rights and opportunities for the service of transportation.

ALKASAMOPI Logo
ALKASAMOPI Logo

Its founding president is Joseph Delgado. As per their SEC Registration, its principles are

We are encouraged, empowered and have the full participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Riders and Drivers to have a Non Professional Driver’s License and have a knowledge of Road Safety as a road users.

*We are passionate, innovative and fearless in the promotion and defense of the right and interest of Persons with Disability.

*We are accessible and responsive to our community needs in terms of accessible transportation and accessible facilities.

*We are collaborative and supportive in our relationship with the disability rights movement as a whole.

They accept all sectors with a disability who are either current holders of driver’s licenses or driving a motorized vehicle. But since many of their members are deaf, they formed a separate group for the deaf community riders with which our blog will focus. Its deaf group has its own set of Officers and the Board of Directors. Their president is Christopher Frando.

ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board
ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board (Link from their Facebook Post)

I have met most of them. But I have personal acquaintances with Michael Boholst (PRO), Daryl Desamparado, Daryl Pineda and Bryann Gregorio (Board of Directors). All of them are alumni of MCCID College and my former students. Most of them also attend the Deaf Ministry of Capitol City Baptist Church where I do sign language interpreting.

As enumerated in their brochure, ALKASAMOPI provides

  • PWD Awareness Sensitivity Seminar “How to Properly Approach and Handle a PWD”
  • Bloodletting project
  • Brigada Eskwela (assisting in the opening of school classrooms)
  • Giving free assessment for mobility devices
  • Giving free assessment for LTO concerns
  • Giving road safety seminar for PWD and Non-PWDs
  • Giving free safety driving and riding seminar
  • Fighting and defending PWD rights

I own a Suzuki Sky Drive 175 since 2014. I don’t often use it because my work is inside the school campus. So I let our deaf school utility Owen Domagtoy use the motorcycle to run some errands. However, he does not have a license. After helping him acquire his “student permit”, the next hurdle is for him to get his driver’s license. It would be very difficult for him to acquire it because he will need to go to a series of tests. Fortunately, ALKASAMOPI assisted him by giving him pointers and assigned a sign language interpreter during the test. Now, he is not worried about driving around because he already has a license.

Owen riding my bike pose together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members
Owen riding my bike (front) together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members
Deaf Group (including Owen) showing their LTO Driver's License
Deaf Group (including Owen) show their LTO Driver’s License after passing the test in September 2019
A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.
A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.

Aside from helping other PWDs, the group participated in assisting commuters during this COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown.  Below is the YouTube video they uploaded last April which ends with a prayer signed by their Deaf President Christopher Frando.

To get in touch with them, email them at alkasamopi2018@gmail.com or visit their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alkasamopi-Inc-102875361219347/

We understand that acquiring a license to drive is a privilege and not a right. But we also support equal opportunity for everyone, including those with disabilities. If a hearing person can avail of a privilege to use the road, with the latest technologies and an open mind from everyone, a deaf and hard-of-hearing person can also avail of that.

Mabuhay po ang ALKASAMOPI sa pagtulong sa mga Pilipinong Bingi na matupad ang kanilang pangarap na malayang makapag-byahe gamit ang kanilang mga sasakyang de-motor!

  • – PWD means Persons With Disabilities

Philippines Celebrate International Day of Sign Languages

fsl rally 2019

Please come and invite everyone! Please use the timeline cover and share it!

Filipino Sign Language advocates; FSL students;

Supporters of Philippine languages / indigenous languages

Human rights advocates, human rights defenders

Media contacts

International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) – Open Ceremony

FSL Rally March

September 23, 2019 (Monday)

7:00 AM onwards

March from CHR to House of Representatives along Commonwealth Ave. Quezon City

Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) in cooperation with the

Philippine Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (PFDYS),

FSL Advocates, IDSL Committees and Filipino Deaf Vloggers (FDV).

Please wear any blue.

Bring your org tarp / logo.

Invite at least 3-5+ other friends.

Bring whistles, horns, noisemakers, drums; megaphone, speakers, sound system, loudspeaker etc. if you have

Make placards on these issues / messages:

– Congress/ Senate: give 2M Budget for KWF!

– Congress/ Senate: FSL in Accessibility bills NOW!

– Congress / Senate: Give Budget for implementation of RA 11106 / FSL Act!

– Ombudsman: Decide on Mocha Uson complaint NOW!

– Support the inclusion of Filipino Sign Language in RA 10533!

– FSL is our mother tongue!

– DepED: Use FSL as Mother Language NOW!

– FSL – National Sign Language of the Philippines!

– FSL in courts!

– FSL in hospitals!

– FSL insets for TV!

– FSL not ASL!

– Learn FSL!

– Deaf teachers in public schools NOW!

– Accessibility NOW!

– Deaf should teach FSL!

– Inclusion YES! Exclusion NO!

– STD NOW! Stop The Discrimination NOW!

etc.

If have any concerns, please kindly contact our PFD Secretary Henry Bibo Perey at philfedeaf1997@gmail.com Thank you so much.

More power to you,

PFD

#SupportFilipinoSignLanguage
#NativeFSL
#YesInclusionofFSLinRA10533
#FSLActRA11106
#FSLDeafEducation

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. 🙂 🙂 🙂

On vilification and unintentional act

This issue went controversial a couple of months ago and now that the dust has just settled in, we may be able to view it in a more level-headed perspective. I won’t be adding my own opinion on this matter lest I be accused of being biased although I do have already formed my personal leaning on the situation. I will just use this post as timeline documentation on what transpired as of today (November 6, 2018). I will not include events that are unrelated to this. Let my blog readers form their own opinions based on this.

For purposes of clarity from among my non-Filipino and international friends, I would first introduce the two central characters in this mayhem:

Mocha Uson

  1. Mocha Uson – She is a Filipina singer, dancer, model, controversial blogger, and former appointive public official. She is also co-founder of the group Mocha Girls. She is also one of the powerful figures who actively campaigned for the election of current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. She has a strong following in social media with nearly six million online followers of her Mocha Uson Blog. She served as a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) from January 2017 through her appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
  2. Drew Olivar –  He is another Filipino social media blogger noted for his bold and impDrew Olivarrudent words and actions although he is a lot less popular than Mocha
    with not more than half a million followers. He posts mostly satire and video antics. One very important thing Mocha and Drew are in common is that they are both avid Duterte supporters. They even had a one-hour radio program which is currently aired daily at DWIZ, “Tambalang Mocha at Drew”.

September 14 – Mocha uploaded this video in her Facebook blog as their opening spiel before the start of their radio show.

Note: I used the raw video footage from YouTube without some commentaries and other stuff so that viewers may not be influenced by them. I also did not put a subtitle-caption.

September 15 – The National Council on Disability Affairs Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga, created an FB group named “DEAF SECTOR STAND UP” in order to address the situation “with reference to the video making fun of sign language.” She invited all her friends who are members of the Filipino deaf community including myself to join the group and deal with the “insulting video”. Later on, the group members invited lawyer-friends and other members of the media to share their thoughts. Prominent people from the deaf community headed by the Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Carol Dagami joined the group and they prepared a strategy on how to file a “class suit”.

September 16 – The video was removed from the Mocha Uson Blog Facebook page after they were bombarded by numerous comment posts attacking the two and expressing their anger on the mockery and insult to sign language and the deaf community.

September 17 – Both Mocha Uson and Drew Olivar made a public apology in their Facebook posts. They also created a personal apology in the video.

Note: I again used the raw video footage from YouTube without some commentaries and other stuff. I again did not put a subtitle-caption.

September 18 – Mainstream media and some politicians took notice of this and formed their own opinions. They also suggested sanctions against the two bloggers. These include Senator Nancy Binay, the principal author of Filipino Sign Language Bill, Senator Grace Poe and Bam Aquino. Also, premier universities like the  UP College of Education Student Council and Dela Salle-College of St. Benilde made their official statements condemning whom they considered as an “atrocious act”.

September 19 – The Commission on Human Rights appeared in the picture by promising to conduct an investigation on the matter.

September 20 – Representing the Filipino Deaf community, Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Carolyn Dagani filed a complaint against Uson and blogger Drew Olivar to the Office of the Ombudsman for violating the RA 7277 and 9442 or the Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons,  RA 6713 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, RA 386 or the Civil Code of the Philippines and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Dagani and the rest of the deaf community were offended by what Uson and Olivar did in the video. According to the group, Olivar, in particular, made hand gesticulations and body movements, which from the perspective of fluent deaf signers are mere gibberish. For those who are unfamiliar with sign language, his actions can even be interpreted as sexual connotations.

September 23 – In a letter sent to President Duterte, Mocha Uson resigned her post as Assistant Secretary of PCOO.

October 3 – In front of the Senate hearing on the budget of the PCOO, Uson formally announced her resignation. She stated that the most compelling reason for leaving the government service was due to congress “holding her hostage for not passing the 2019 budget of PCOO if she would not appear on the hearings”.

October 5 – Despite her resignation, the Office of Ombudsman starts the probe on Mocha Uson’s Case.

For further reference, I included the link on Republic Act 9442 or the Amended Magna Carta for Disabled Persons and the separate Implementing Rules and Regulation here.

As a final note, I added below the  DZMM TeleRayo Radio discourse about Mocha Sign Language video controversy which prompted the Philippine Federation of the Deaf to file a case against the Ombudsman. The legal opinion of Atty. Claire Castro was explained here. This time, I added English subtitles for the understanding of the Filipino Deaf Community and my international readers.

There you have it, folks!!!

PS: Since both of them will now be often mentioned by the deaf community, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf assigned sign names for them.

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.

ndpr2
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 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 job in an online news site. Eventually, he became a regular government employee. He 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 a work! “Good for him” because he passed the Career Civil Service Examination (CSC) which 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 speak clearly.

When one of the deaf participants 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, a piece of 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 agree 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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