At last, a National SL Interpeters group will soon rise!

Wow! This is exciting! Sign language interpreters have bonded together and will now be one step closer in forming a national organization. This is truly a dream come true!

PAIDE's Jun Celada and CAP's May Andrada
PAIDE's Jun Celada and CAP's May Andrada

Nearly fifty hearing interpreters as well as deaf clients and relay interpreters trooped to the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Office last January 21 to participate in the discussions and deliberations on how to establish a national body that will care for the needs and professionalizing sign language interpreters. Seeing all the seasoned and very dedicated interpreters come together under one roof is really a great sight to behold. 🙂

For the first time, the two well-organized interpreters association; the pioneer Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PRID) and the equally dedicated Philippine Association of Interpreters for Deaf Empowerment (PAIDE), participated in this gathering. PAIDE President Alfredo “Jun” Celada Jr. was there to organize and facilitate the discussions while PRID volunteer Ma’am Beth Go gave her full support.

Prominent schools for the deaf were also very much represented because their top honchos attended. This is also the first time after nearly a decade where major college for the deaf in Metro Manila were together. Aside from yours truly and Sir Ervin Reyes representing MCCID, DLS-CSB‘s Dean Techie Dela Torre and Nicky Templo-Perez with Ms. Tess Buenaventura and Ms. Febe Sevilla, CAP College’s Ma’am May Andrada and Sir Julius Andrada and MC-SAID’s Ma’am Carol Ui were all there. Philippine Deaf Resource Center’s Dr. Lisa Martinez was also there and gave her very tangible suggestions and so with UP College of Education and my best buddy Dr. Therese Bustos. 🙂

My former boss Ms. Joy Cristal was the documentor while former MCCID faculty and now a public school teacher Jay Lardizabal was the sign language interpreter aside from Ma’am May Andrada. There were also some from the deaf community who showed their support headed by Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Raquel Estiller-Corpuz and Raffy Domingo.

Connecting the provinces through Skype
Connecting the provinces through Skype

Even people from the provinces were not left out, at least in Davao City, where PDRC’s Naty Natividad and six of her colleagues participated through Skype. I volunteered to use my MacBook in order to video conference with them. The video relay was unreliable so voice call and chat was utilized.

Interpreters all!

What made this occasion truly memorable to me is that I was able to meet my long time friends and colleagues in the ministry of interpreting for the deaf. I saw my former PRID classmate Cris Gaytos, my former SL teacher Ma’am Annie Blanca who is now holding a high position in the Department of Education, my idol in assisting abused deaf children Ma’am Liway Caldito and of course, my first sign language teacher who really pushed me into plunging into this wonderful world of the deaf, Ma’am Sonia Lodado.

Tagaytay Brainstormers
Tagaytay Brainstormers

To give you a brief backgrounder, this gathering came about during the 22nd World Federation of the Deaf Regional Secretariat for Asia-Pacific Conference held last November 2010 where the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) group had a meeting. WASLI officials encouraged the Philippine delegation to organize a national body that will represent the country in an international forum and also to professionalize the SL interpreting career. PAIDE’s Jun Celada and Michael Potian, CAP’s May Andrada, PDRC’s Naty Natividad NCDA’s Ruth Tacujan and myself had a brainstorming and came up with a decision of holding a general assembly to discuss how to organize a national group in order to strengthen and protect the interpreting profession.

Sl interpreting has been in existence in the Philippines since Philippine School for the Deaf was established in 1907. But until now, no group has ever been formed to promote the welfare and professionalize the interpreting career. There are extremely few full time interpreters around because most of us have other work either as teachers or school administrators.

I won’t be mentioning in detail what has transpired during the January 21 meeting. But what I can say is that this is only the beginning of a very bright future. Small core groups were formed and they will tentatively meet at the College of St. Benilde next February 4. 🙂

Yay! First 120,000 Visits!

Facebook Pages Logos in front of Jojo's Facebook Profile Snapshot in blur.

Cheers!!!! My blog has reached its first 120,000 visitors since I started blogging actively in April 2008! 🙂

Actually my blog already reached the 120,000th mark a week ago. I wasn’t paying much attention to it since I am too much pre-occupied with the main culprit, Facebook! I visit my Facebook profile every time I’m connected to the Internet. The last time I posted something here was nearly three weeks ago, while my Facebook wall post is updated almost daily! tsk tsk tsk

Blogging and posting on Facebook wall are entirely different bananas. You need to spend a longer time composing a blog, while thinking a wall post will only consume around two minutes or so. Blogging entails a more detailed and insightful research on the topic. Since my blog is about deafness, deaf and their culture; I cannot deviate much from it. Inasmuch as I want to include issues from my other loves like web designing, Christian living and music, I am compelled not to post something about them simply because I will be “out of topic”.

Talking about Facebook stats; I already have 513 friends. Nearly a third of that are from my Social City buddies. The rest are my MCCID deaf students, alumni and friends. I’m also surprised that my V. Mapa High School classmates were able to track me down! I already have 20 friends from way back the time of Xanadu’s “Magic”, Air Supply’s “All Out of Love”, Irene Cara’s “Fame” and John Lennon’s “Just like Starting Over”. Yah! John Lennon was still alive when I finished high school! 🙂

I already created four Fan Pages in Facebook. The first one was for our college for the deaf, the second one was for Liliane Foundation Philippines, while the third one was for the first Filipino Sign Language Font which can be downloaded and installed for FREE. The latest is for our Philippine Web Accessibility Group.

Among the four pages, our college for the deaf topped with 855 likes with 319 active users. It is in this Page where I posted some very important announcements concerning the school. This is followed by Filipino Sign Language Font which has 606 likes and 92 active users. Incidentally, the FSL Font has already been downloaded more than 1500 times as of today, thanks to Facebook. Liliane Foundation Philippines has 54 likes with 30 monthly active users. Philippine Web Accessibility Group now has 50 likes with 48 active users.

One great feature of WordPress is its ability to track down the number of visits from your other WordPress designed sites using the same built in API keys. You can also use this for their equally neat Akismet spam blocking plugin. Based on this I was able to know the number of visitors from the following WordPress sites of:

My blog now has 222 posts with 583 comments and 512 tags. My top referrer is still now followed closely by Facebook. Thank you very much my dear readers, whether you are hearing or deaf! Now, on to my first 140,000th visitors! 🙂

Philippine President Signed Program for Disabled Persons in Every Province, Cities and Municipalities

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed Republic Act 10070, a law establishing the institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in every province, city and municipality, as envisioned by RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

The law, signed last April 6, promotes the creation of organizations of PWDs in their respective territorial jurisdictions. National agencies and local government units may enter into joint ventures with organizations or associations of PWDs to explore livelihood opportunities and other undertakings that shall enhance the health, physical fitness and economic and social well-being of PWDs.

The law mandates the creation of Persons with Disability Affairs Office [PDAO] in every province, city and municipality with the local chief executive appointing a PWD affairs officer to manage and oversee the operations of the office. Priority shall be given to a qualified PWD to head and man the office in carrying out the following functions:

  1. Formulate and implement policies, plans and programs for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs in coordination with concerned national and local government agencies.
  2. Coordinate the implementation of this Act, Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 or the Accessibility Law and other relevant laws at the local level.
  3. Represent PWDs in meetings of local development councils and other special bodies.
  4. Recommend and enjoin the participation of NGOs and people’s organizations (POs) in the implementation of
    disability-related laws and policies.
  5. Gather and compile relevant data on PWDs in their localities.
  6. Disseminate information including programs and activities for PWDs, statistics on PWDs, including children with disability and training and employment opportunities for PWDs.
  7. Submit reports to the office of the local chief executive on the implementation of programs and services for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
  8. Ensure that the policies, plans and programs for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs are funded by both the national and local government.
  9. Monitor fundraising activities being conducted for the benefit of PWDs.
  10. Seek donations in cash or kind from local or foreign donors to implement an approved work plan for PWDs in accordance with existing laws and regulations.
  11. Perform such other functions as may be necessary for the promotion and protection of the welfare of PWDs.

Within three years from the effectivity of this Act, appropriate agencies headed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in consultation with the National Council on Disability Affairs and other relevant NGOs and POs shall review the implementation and recommend to Congress the need to mandate the establishment of a PDAO in 4th, 5th and 6th class municipalities.

The national government, through the DSWD, shall ensure that the annual budget includes provisions to fund programs and provide support to PWDs. Local governments shall ensure that the necessary funds from any available local revenue are allocated for the implementation of this Act for the benefit of PWDs.

This very important law for PWDs did not create any buzz in the national arena. This might be because the people are more focused on the last elections. However, this will be very exciting for us because the local government units will not take us for granted anymore. They must create their own special office which caters purely on the needs and assistance for Persons With Disabilities. I hope that this won’t be just another flash in a pan.

Please read related articles here and here.

Disability Informercials from the Philippines

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), the Philippine government agency tasked to lead and monitor disability related activities and policies, recently uploaded two 30-second video informercials in YouTube. They were both professionally done. I believe they can have a great impact on the disability awareness and promoting the rights of Persons With Disabilities. I just wish they can afford to buy a spot on national TV to show them.

Since its our school through our Deaf Coordinator Sir Ervin Reyes who designed their website using WordPress, I was one of those people who are privileged of viewing them for the first time and putting an annotation (closed caption) in one of the videos when it was uploaded in YouTube. The voiceovers and background music are good, clear and appropriate. But one of the video requires a closed caption so I took the liberty of adding it. I am particularly fond of the part where the deaf welder signs. 🙂

Here they are guys! Enjoy! 🙂

To see more videos from NCDA visit their Official YouTube Channel.

Deaf Designed Site won Best Organization Website

Good news to our Filipino deaf web designers! The Official Website of the National Council on Disability Affairs won in the Association/ Organization category of the 4th Digital Filipino Web Awards this year.

This is the first time NCDA site won the award given annually by the Club whose members judge the nominations from the public in over 40 categories. The site was designed by Ervin Reyes, an award winning Deaf web designer together with yours truly under MCCID College of Technology.

The Digital Filipino Web Awards were given last Friday, November 13 at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City. It was part of the Digital E-Commerce Summit, which started in Thursday.

From Left: Me, Sir Dandy Victa of NCDA and a representative from Bitstop Network Services who nominated the website

The NCDA site award was received by Mr. Dandy Victa, Assistant Chief of Technical Cooperation Division. Yours truly gave the brief overview of the website. I also focused on the promotion of web accessibility.

Digital Filipino Web Awardees
The websites were reviewed and judged “for their ability to create a noticeable presence on the Internet—their ability to be seen and heard among all the noise and clutter of the Net,” said the award body.

“The Web Awards aims to advocate the use of Internet and e-commerce for business development, through the identification, promotion and highlighting of best e-commerce practices from various websites in the Philippines,” it said.

The criteria for determining the winners were:

• Search engine readiness—title tags, keywords and page strengths.

• Content/organization—clear purpose, target audience clearly defined, citation of sources whenever used, freshness, originality and accuracy of information.

• Structure and navigation—opening page, content connection and transition, writing and conventions, ease of navigation and link usefulness.

• Design and functionality—overall layout, colors, background and text.

• Technical performance—page loading, browser flexibility and live links.

• Interactivity—audience involvement and overall experience

In behalf of the organizers of the Digital Filipino Web Awards, thank you very much for the honor you gave to us. To God be the Glory! 🙂

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