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

Sample Videos of Bible Stories in Filipino Sign Language

This is a follow up on my previous blog post about Filipino Sign Language Bible Translation Project. Most of the videos are posted on their official Facebook page as well as their YouTube Channel. I posted the links below.

I can only embed YouTube videos here. Sadly, Facebook videos may only be viewed inside Facebook. So I uploaded one video in our MCCID YouTube channel although it is unlisted. You may view more videos in their Official Facebook Page.

As a brief backgrounder, all the Bible stories are signed by deaf persons who are prominent within the Filipino Christian Deaf community. They are Ptr. Mamerto Cortez Jr. of Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation in Laguna, Ptr. Peter Ding Basa of Assembly of God in Cavite and the husband and wife team of Ptr. Jose Irish and Joylyn Pascual from Bible Institute for the Deaf in Valenzuela City. Their signs, as well as a near accurate translation of the Bible stories in FSL, were reviewed and validated by Bible Translation experts from the Filipino Deaf community, the Asia Pacific Sign Language Development Association, Summer Institute of Linguistics Philippines and the Philippine Bible Society. As a partner-member, Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf also provided inputs and evaluation on the videos when their team visited the school in 2016.

fslbt mccid1
MCCID students give their personal appreciation of the Bible story video to the FSL Bible Translation Project Team in 2016.

Here are the sample videos:

Filipino Sign Language Bible Translation Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/FSLBT

Filipino Sign Language Bible Translation Official YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkDBcRFyTvR7tSeqv-dVDKw

While browsing their official website, I was pleasantly surprised to read the comment I posted on their FB page. So I excitedly took a screenshot of it. Thank you PDSLA!

comment posted in pdsla website
“Highly recommended!!! Promoting God’s word through Filipino Sign Language makes the Bible come close to the hearts of the Filipino Deaf Community.” – Mr. Remberto “jojo” I. Esposa Jr. (Educator, Advocate and Interpreter)

To know where to get free DVD copies of the Bible Translations in FSL or learn more about the group and would like to partner with them, you may contact them thru:

Web: http://www.pdsla.org.ph

Email: contact_us@pdsla.org.ph, pdslassociation@gmail.com

Address: 12 Big Horsehoe Drive, Horsehoe Village, Quezon City, 1112PH

Facebook: www.fb.com/pg/PDSLAssociation

Facebook of FSL Bible Translation: https://www.facebook.com/FSLBT

 

32 Bible Stories in Filipino Sign Language Launched

Filipino Sign Language has finally landed in the Bible!

The Philippine Deaf Sign Language Association (PDSLA) in partnership with the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) launched an initial thirty-two of the well-loved Bible stories in Filipino Sign Language Video format during its dedication/launch held on February 23 at the PBS Ministry Center. They also distributed DVD copies of the stories for free to the guests and visitors.

fslbt dvd
Ptr. Julius Andrada distributes the DVD for free.

Of the 32 titles, twelve are taken from the Old Testament stories while the remaining twenty are from the life and times of the Lord Jesus Christ starting from His birth up to the fellowship of His disciples. PDSLA and PBS formed the Filipino Sign Language Bible Translation Project in 2013 which aims to make God’s Word available to Filipino Deaf in a language that they fully understand.

In their brochure, PDSLA stated that the Deaf are one of the largest unreached people groups in the world.

“Deaf people have been without the life-changing words of Scripture in a language that imparts their hearts. We are joining a global movement among Deaf people who are translating the Word of God into their own sign language and seeing spiritual growth among those who previously struggled to know God.”

fslbt launch 1
Praise and Worship in FSL

Why stories instead of Bible passages?

According to the group, Deaf people tend to understand best when communicated to with stories. Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) is being used by many Deaf translation teams in Asia and around the world. The format is used in order to help the Deaf understand three (3) Biblical foundations:

  1. Know God. How?
  2. Follow God. How?
  3. Serve God. How?

Using a video camera, lighting rigs and a green screen, sign language videos are produced including graphics and images to support the signs. The Old Testament Bible story selection starts with “God Created the World” up to “God’s Chosen Servant”. The New Testament Bible story begins with “Birth of Jesus” and ends with “Believer’s Fellowship”. The 32 stories are just their initial offering. Additional Bible stories will be produced in the years to come.

A Blessed Project Close to My Heart

Prior to this activity, I have been exposed to many Bible stories and Christian songs converted into sign language. I remember way back in the late nineties, there were tapes in VHS format as well as VCDs freely distributed by American missionaries and churches/organizations with established deaf ministries like Door International, Deaf Bible Society, and Deaf Missions which produce the Daily Devotions for the Deaf, an “Our Daily Bread” book written in Deaf way. But all of them are signed using the American Sign Language (ASL).

As a sign language interpreter of Capitol City Baptist Church (CCBC) for nearly three decades now and a native FSL user, I greatly long for a way by which the Bible stories can be explained so that the Filipino deaf can fully grasp and comprehend. However, I was very much constrained at how to go about this because there are many underlying constraints to consider like sign names of Biblical characters, better visual and gestural approach in expounding the story and faithful translation of doctrines and teachings.

PDSLA Logo

Thankfully in 2013, faith-based leaders from the Filipino Deaf community met and discussed a better approach in spreading God’s Good news, one that would speak through their own language, the Filipino Sign Language. Aside from that, the group raised up goals that would touch all aspects of language environment such as linguistics and research, community and language development, deaf culture and church development training. PDSLA was born.

Since then, they invited same-faith individuals, church groups, institutions and other organizations to partner with them. Because of my close affinity with the group, I was very glad that they invited me representing our School Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf to join as a partner institution with which we are very much honored. Officers/leaders of the association, all of whom are my personal friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, include the Ptr. Julius Andrada of CCBC Deaf Ministry together with his lovely wife May, Deaf Pastor Brothers Mamerto and Nehemiah Cortez, Ptr. Albert Mercado and Ptr. Peter Ding Basa.

fslpbt ptr julius
Ptr. Julius Andrada, PDSLA Vice President

With the recent passing of Filipino Sign Language Act of 2018, projects like this would surely be a welcome addition to the growing number of FSL resource materials and teaching aids as well as advocates in recognizing and promoting this unique language that is very beneficial for the Filipino Deaf Community.

may isauro me.jpg
Me (right) together with my lovely sister in Christ May Andrada (left) and the very famous Ptr. Isauro Soriano of Nueva Ecija, brother of late actor Nestor De Villa

To know where to get free DVD copies of the Bible Translations in FSL or learn more about the group and would like to partner with them, you may contact them thru:

Web: http://www.pdsla.org.ph

Email: contact_us@pdsla.org.ph, pdslassociation@gmail.com

Address: 12 Big Horsehoe Drive, Horsehoe Village, Quezon City, 1112PH

Facebook: www.fb.com/pg/PDSLAssociation

Facebook of FSL Bible Translation: https://www.facebook.com/FSLBT

Did you know that Ma’am Coryell already recognized Filipino Sign Language?

Disclaimer: I am not an official biographer of Rev. Aimee Ada Coryell. I don’t know if she has one. But I certainly am not for one simple reason, I have only been with her for a very few short days. However, here are the significant details that I personally learned from fellowshipping with her.

Ma'am Aimee (left) and her mother
Ma’am Aimee (left) and her mother

After publishing my recent post about Ma’am Coryell and shared it in Facebook, I received an upsurge in my blogsite visits. I even had inquiries about the book and where to get it. So I decided to make a follow up post about this strong-willed American missionary by listing down three most significant trivia I learned about her. Here they are:

Did you know that…

1. … Ma’am Coryell has already observed and recognized the existence of Filipino Sign Language?

Long before the interest about a unique language used by the Filipino Deaf started to gather support in the mid-90s, Ma’am Coryell has already been using them since the early 1970s. As an American missionary and teacher, Ma’am Coryell is a product of the Peace Corp Volunteer Group that was stationed in different parts of the Philippines. She was a native American Sign Language (ASL) user and has taught this to the Filipino deaf.  As a founder of DEAF School in Laguna in late 1960s, she has strictly implemented the use of ASL in classes due to limited sign vocabulary. However, she has noticed that her students have been using signs that are distinctive to them and which has been slightly diluted with the signs used by deaf community living in Manila.

But because the Laguna school is somewhat isolated from the rest of the community, they have developed their own peculiar signs. That is why during the nineties, teachers for the deaf as well as sign language interpreters have categorized the educated deaf according to the community where they belong. Labels like “Laguna Sign”, “Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) Sign or Manila Sign” and “Bohol Sign” have been widely branded.

Ma’am Coryell has already identified the inherent weakness of the deaf in accessing the written language that is why she included mostly ASL signs in her book “The Basic Way To English for the Deaf”. However, if there are words that she has observed that have signs commonly used by the Filipino Deaf, she incorporated them in her book.

Back Cover Page of the book “The Basic Way of English for the Deaf”

At the back cover of her book, notice the use of “G” hand which is gun shaped and the “T” hand. Both are Filipino Sign Language fingerspell. There are other “FSL signs” that appeared in her book. Although she did not name them as such because Filipino Sign Language has only been coined in mid-90s, she often refers to them as Philippine Signs.

2. … Ma’am Coryell does not know how to speak Tagalog?

I already mentioned this in my previous post so I will just copy-paste it here. Did you know that despite of staying here for many decades, she still cannot speak clear Tagalog? She can only utter perfect “PARA” to tell the jeepney driver to stop. I politely asked her why she never became fluent in Filipino. She confessed that she too has a problem with her ears. She is having difficulty hearing Tagalog pronunciations and diphthongs (sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable). But what she lacked in learning the local language, she compensated it with her love to the visual language of the Filipino Deaf.

3. … Ma’am Coryell is a speed typist?

On a manual typewriter, the average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute (WPM), what translates into between 190 and 200 characters per minute (CPM). However, professional typists type a lot faster — on average between 50 and 60 WPM. The rate is quite different in a digital keyboard which is being used in laptops and Personal Computers. Ma’am Coryell “boasts” of typing an average of 85 words per minute! Believe me, I’ve seen her do it.

She explained to me that as part of their training as a Peace Corp Volunteer, they are required to acquire and master skills that they can teach to their assigned country. One of them is using the typewriter to create reports, documents and even correspondents. She wants to accomplish things fast and perfect. I believe Ma’am Coryell is the only one who typed the contents of all four of her books.

I added an image of a manual typewriter here for the benefit of new generation of technology users who have never experienced, much less seen what we have been so much accustomed of using. My Dad gifted us one similar to this when we were still in grade school. This is one of his special gifts that we cherished a lot aside from the Kolski piano. He gave us tools to harness our skills. That is why I can type at least 65 words per minute.

If I may be permitted to quote Sir Carl Aguila, a former professor of Dela Salle College (now university), he described her like this,

Rev. Coryell is the closest thing the Philippines has to a “Mother Teresa.”

I couldn’t agree more… 🙂

By the way, for those who want to have a copy of her book, I am sorry that ours are already library copies. I’m not sure that they are still printing these books. But you can try to contact them to inquire through this:

c/o: LAMOIYAN CORPORATION, Km. 15 West Service Road, South Luzon Expressway, Parañaque City, 1700

or the school’s official website at: http://deaffoundationinc.com/contact/

HIV-AIDS Talk in Filipino Sign Language

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the into law in January 9 Republic Act 11166 or the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018”.

Under the law, the government is mandated to establish programs and policies and adopt a multi-sectoral approach to prevent the spread of HIV, and ensure access to HIV and AIDS-related services “by eliminating the climate of stigma and discrimination” on patients.

The Philippine National AIDS Council is reconstituted and streamlined to ensure effective implementation of the country’s response to the spread of HIV and AIDS among the population. It also provides penalties to people who will discriminate against HIV-positive individuals and enables minors 15 years of age to get tested for HIV.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque has lauded the recent signing as well as informed the public about the alarming rate of increase in persons infected with the virus. Latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that 945 newly-diagnosed HIV cases were recorded in November 2018. This is truly a cause for alarm because it also affects the Filipino Deaf. I even heard of one deaf who died of complications due to AIDS.

Nearly a week ago, Outrage Magazine, the only publication dedicated to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups in the Philippines uploaded a series of videos in their YouTube Channel explaining the nature as well as how to get an HIV-AIDS Test in Filipino Sign Language. This to me is very timely as well as helpful in raising the AIDS awareness among the Filipino Deaf Community.

Pinoy Deaf Rainbow Logo
Pinoy Deaf Rainbow Logo

There are a significant number of deaf who belong to the LGBT community. They even organized a group called Pinoy Deaf Rainbow and has been participating in many related activities like Pinoy Pride and beauty pageants. I believe most of the actors that appeared in the Outrage YouTube videos are members of this group. They have and active Facebook Group Page aside from the YouTube Channel.

Here are the YouTube Videos from OutRage Magazine. Please click on each video to watch it.

1. Let’s Talk About HIV

2. Getting Tested for HIV

3. What Happens After You Get Tested for HIV

In behalf of this blogger, I warmly salute Outrage Magazine for creating these videos explained in Filipino Sign Language. I am very positive that these advocacy videos will enlighten our entire Filipino Deaf Community, not just the Deaf LGBT group.  🙂

MCCID scholarship exam on March 24

Scholarship Exam Poster
Scholarship Exam Poster

Attention all deaf high school graduates! Do you want to study Information Technology courses in the “Home of the Filipino Deaf World IT Champions” but are having difficulty financially? Now is your chance to study at MCCID!

We are offering up to 100% scholarship grants on your fees. All you need to do is take the scholarship examination which will be held on Tuesday, March 24 at 9:00 am in our campus in San Mateo, Rizal. The entrance exam is free.

To know more about it, please feel free to contact us at (632)664-7034, text at 09204656138 (Smart) or email us at info@mccid.edu.ph. You may also go to our website at http://www.mccid.edu.ph to know more about our courses offered.

Visit our Contact Us page to know the directions on how to get there!

 

Adieu, Ma’am Ellen Castillo…

Mural for Ma'am Ellen
To our beloved Ma’am Ellen:
As one of the outstanding pillars of Filipino Deaf Education,
we greatly salute you for all the wonderful works and passion you have
shared with us. You have truly inspired us to serve the Filipino Deaf.
We would surely miss you. But we are also contented believing
that you are now together with our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ!
You will always be remembered in our hearts! 🙂
from MCCID College of Technology and Esposa Family

Long before the establishments of Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation in Cavinti, Laguna, Philippine Institute for the Deaf Oral School, CAP College for the Deaf, College of St. Benilde and MCCID…  long before the Filipino Sign Language noise and deaf culture recognition… long before the empowerment of the Filipino Deaf…  there is one wonderful woman who took the burden of sharing God’s love and care for the deaf youth…

We greatly salute you Ma’am Ellen Castillo of Bible Institute for the Deaf. You will surely be missed.

 

Government health workers in Metro Manila given sign language training

This is a repost from Business Mirror.

THE regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) started on Wednesday training health-care providers on Basic Filipino Sign Language (BFSL) for them to use in communicating and understanding patients in health-care facilities with hearing disabilities.

“This is the first phase of our development program for our health workers who are involved with patients with disabilities [PWDs]. We want to make health services to better serve those who have disabilities and make it easier for them to go to a health center and tell a health worker what they need without worries,” Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said.

Janairo said the training will also increase their knowledge and understanding about PWDs and how they can improve their attitudes towards patients who are disabled.

“These improvements are not so difficult or expensive to do. All we need is determination and dedication and the proper skill to make it possible,” Janairo emphasized.

The first batch of trainees will be provided with a module that will familiarize them with the basic signs for communication with deaf patients. These includes the alphabet, numbers, greetings, time, days, months and commonly asked questions inside the emergency room. After memorizing simple gestures and facial expressions, trainees can interact with hearing impaired patients.

Among the 25 participants included in the training are health workers from the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Las Piñas General and Satellite Trauma Center, San Lorenzo Ruiz Women’s Hospital, Valenzuela Medical Center,  San Lazaro Hospital, Ospital ng Makati, Mandaluyong City Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital and Region 4A.

Media practitioners from the Philippine News Agency, Philippine Information Agency, LOQAL.ph-Filquest Media Concepts and Public Information Office of Marikina were also invited to join the training.

The DOH-NCR launched the first BFSL Module for Health Workers on November 13, 2012, with the objective of educating health workers with basic sign language for them to better communicate and understand deaf patients in their care.

It was developed through the support of the University of the University of the Philippines-PGH, CAP College for the Deaf, De La Salle University’s College of Saint Benilde and the Department of Education-National Capital Region.

Janairo said health workers provide treatment and care to many people daily and some patients are not fortunate to communicate the normal way.

“We want to help the patient but we do not speak his language and he on his part cannot convey to us what he needs. Some of these patients are not accompanied by relatives. That is why it is imperative for us educate ourselves with their language to be able to communicate with them and give them the proper health care treatment,” he added

“We will extend this training to all health providers in the region until most health workers are taught how to communicate using signs. This skill is essential as we do not want to commit errors and prescribe the wrong treatment just because we lack the knowledge to communicate with our patients,” Janairo added.

 

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