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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Sign Language Interpreters Group announces 5th General Assembly

Heads up Philippine sign language interpreters! The Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI) will be holding its 5th General Assembly from May 15-18, 2019 at Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

This year’s theme is “Beyond Filipino Sign Language Law: Moving Forward“. General election of new set of officers will be held aside from the assembly. This activity will also be in tandem with the 8th General Assembly of Philippine Federation of the Deaf which will also be held on the same date and venue.

For details please refer to the announcement poster below or email the group at philippinenasli@gmail.com. You may also go the our official Facebook page for further announcements. To register for the event, please click on this link: https://tinyurl.com/y7o4e2fv.

Kitakits po tayo mga terps!

PNASLI Poster Announcing the 5th General Assembly in Bohol, Philippines
PNASLI Poster

Filipino Sign Language now official

Filipino Sign Language for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Great news!!!

After more than two decades of convincing people that there exist such a language, the Philippines has finally recognized Filipino Sign Language as the true and living language used by the Filipino Deaf community!!! Pres. Duterte signed today Republic Act 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language Act!!! 😍😍😍

President Rodrigo Duterte

We were already believers and has been using/promoting Filipino Sign Language since 1991 when I was then a computer instructor for the deaf at CAP College Foundation, Inc. We were convinced by the explanation of our then Director Rosalie Macaraig who arrived from Gallaudet University. Cory Aquino was still the president then. We have been observing and studying the signs of the Filipino deaf community and we were very much convinced that they are using a unique yet highly developed signs which are distinguishable from American Sign Language.

Yet the struggles in pushing for its recognition was ginormous. The Department of Education and even the first public school for the deaf in Asia are the greatest stumbling blocks. They never believed that there exists a language commonly used by the Filipino Deaf. One of the compelling reasons why Deaf Ervin Reyes and I established Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf back in 1993 was to agressively promote FSL.

But we never lose hope. With the strong persistence of Philippine Federation of the Deaf, the yearly filing of House Bill by Congressman Antonio Tinio, painstaking researches of Dr. Liza Martinez and her group, the bonding together of like-minded colleagues to form Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the continued nurturing of the Filipino deaf community, the country has finally recognized FSL as the true and living visual language.

So, after more than five presidents later, it was President Rodrigo Duterte who signed Republic Act 11106 into law on October 30 and published on November 12 coinciding the Deaf Awareness Week celebration (November 10-16). Our dream has finally been fulfilled! Cheers to best times ahead for the Filipino Deaf Community!!!

Download the official law here:

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Into Law – Abs-Cbn News 

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Act – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Happy International Week of the Deaf!!!

This blogger and the entire Philippine Deaf Community are united with the entire world in celebrating “International Week of the Deaf” which ends today (September 30)!!!

With the impending passage of Filipino Sign Language Act and the recent controversies regarding sign language interpreting, it is but fitting to end this month with remembering the theme “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!”

Cheers!

Government agencies involved in implementing the FSL Act

Several days ago, September 11 to be exact, Philippine Senator Salvador “Chiz” Escudero proudly twitted about a very good news regarding the passage of Filipino Sign Language Act (FSL). He announced that,

The Senate version of the Filipino Sign Language bill was adopted by the House of Representatives last night sans a bicam. I thank our House counterparts and all those who worked hard for the passage of this bill. I hope PRRD will sign it and be enacted into law soon.

To clarify the twit, in the Philippine legislative system, both the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House) will create two separate bills on the same topic or issue. Then both houses will study their own versions of the bill in first, second and final reading. Once they reached that stage, then they must present the two bills in the Bi-cameral Conference Committee (bicam) which is composed of selected members of both houses. They would then consolidate or unify the two bills in order to come up with one version. Afterwards, the “final” version will be presented to the current president, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) for signature in order for it to become a law of the land.

Now that the Lower House adopted the Senate version, then there is no more further delay in the process. After more than a decade of painstaking research among the deaf community, debate and even strong opposition from the schools teaching the deaf, the government through the Department of Education and even the general public who are basically ignorant about the situation of the deaf, the bill has finally reached this crucial stage.

As the final version is already on the President’s table, I want to make a simple analysis on the roles and responsibilities of each individual government agency that was mentioned in the “law”. Here is the list of specific national government agency and the summary of task that it must do in order to implement the “law”.

  1. Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (ChEd) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – They are required to coordinate with each other on the use of FSL as the medium of instruction in deaf education. FSL must be taught as a separate subject in school curriculum for deaf learners.
  2. Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) – This agency is assigned to use alternative assessment procedure in the licensing of Deaf Teachers.
  3. University of the Philippines (UP), Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWK) – They are responsible in developing guidelines for the development of training materials in education of the deaf for use of state colleges and universities as well as teachers and staff.
  4. Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWK) – With the involvement of the deaf communities, they are tasked to establish a national system of standards, accreditation and procedures for FSL interpreting
  5. Supreme Court, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Their duty is to create a national system of standards, accreditation and procedure for legal interpreting in FSL. They must also make sure of an availability of sign language interpreter in all proceedings involving the deaf.
  6. All government agencies with deaf workers – They are encouraged to use FSL including the conduct of training seminars for their co-employees.
  7. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT) – They are tasked to require TV stations to have FSL interpreter insets in news and public affairs programs. They must also participate in the promotion of FSL in all other broadcasts.
  8. Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and Philippine Commission on Women (PWC) – They are involved in making an annual assessment on the implementation of the law.

Even though their task may be mentioned in motherhood statements within the sections of the act, conspicuously missing are the following vital government agencies:

  1. Department of Health (DOH) – Although the entire Section 8 of the act is devoted about the health system, only the state hospitals and other government health facilities are given the responsibility to ensure the access of FSL interpreters for deaf patients. Probably the framers of this “law” do not see a need to involve the topmost department since all government hospitals and even barangay health centers are under DOH.
  2. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Ever since the plight of Persons with Disabilities have always been a social welfare concern, the DSWD has played a lead role in implementing programs and services for them. However, their agency is not taking any active part in this act. It was only mentioned because their agency employs deaf people.
  3. National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) – Deaf people are considered as Persons with Disabilities. NCDA is the one and only national government agency tasked to formulate policies and coordinate all activities concerning disability issues and delivery of services to the sector.  Although the House of Representatives version mentioned them as one of the agency tasked to formulate guidelines in the development of training materials for government employees of specific agencies, they are removed in the Senate and final version.  It is ironic that a national government agency serving the sector does not play a significant role in a law concerning the sector.

Although this is about language and its use, it is hoped that the three agencies mentioned above would still continue to participate in making the “law” implemented by everyone. DepEd was specified five times in nearly all sections while KWK or the Commission on Filipino Language in tandem with UP appeared four times.

The FSL Act which has eighteen (18) sections is titled “AN ACT DECLARING THE FILIPINO SIGN LANGUAGE AS THE NATIONAL SIGN LANGUAGE OF HIE FILIPINO DEAF AND THE OFFICIAL SIGN LANGUAGE OF GOVERNMENT IN ALL TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING THE DEAF, AND MANDATING ITS USE IN SCHOOLS, BROADCAST MEDIA, AND WORKPLACES”.

Signing it into a law is a very big leap towards recognizing the language commonly used by the Filipino deaf which has been suppressed by so-called “deaf educators”. However, much still needs to be done in order to fully implement the law.

To the Deaf Sector, “Congratulations and here’s to better times ahead! Cheers!!!”

 

 

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