Sign language in curriculum urged

This is again a repost from Manila Bulletin. It seems that the government, or at least the House of Representatives, took notice about the dilemma of educating the Filipino deaf. 🙂

This is the front cover page of the book "...
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By BEN R. ROSARIO
December 11, 2011, 4:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — A party-list lawmaker Sunday urged government to include sign language studies in the elementary education curriculum to make communications more accessible to some four million hearing impaired (HI) Filipinos.

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon Partylist) stressed that proficiency in sign language will also give young Filipinos an edge in actively participating in revolutionary information and com-munications technology (ICT) aimed at bridging the communications gap that has disadvantaged hundreds of millions of HI individuals throughout the world.

Herrera-Dy addressed the appeal to the Department of Education (Deped) shortly after keynoting the recent launching ceremonies for the Signals for Hand and Oral Understanding Training (SHOUT) program in Quezon City.

The lady solon explained that the SHOUT program, a project initiated by the Rotary Club of Quirino-QC, has piloted a sign language training for ordinary elementary school students at the Batino Elementary School in Project 2, Quezon City which also conducts regular special education classes for HI students.

Jointly sponsored by the RCQQC and BH Partylist with the cooperation of the Division of Quezon City Schools, the SHOUT program has initially enrolled 25 Grade IV and V students to learn the sign language and allow them to communicate with HI students of the school.

“With this project, we hope to widen an HI individual’s sphere of communications which current limited to their fellow HI’s and their relatives,” explained Herrera-Dy.

The partylist solon revealed that the SHOUT program will complement the Video Relay Service (Call Center) Training Program that her partylist organization launched in Makati last August.

She pointed out that the VRS has been developed by a leading ICT firm to help persons suffering hearing and speech difficulties communicate normally with other people.

The VRS includes sign language proficiency training and video relay computer program education, which are the main components of call center services for the deaf.

Herrera-Dy noted that VRS centers have started mushrooming in the United States and other countries that have strong government programs for persons with disabilities.

She also cited the RCQQC headed by Gil Basco and Batino principal July Villapa for supporting the project.

There are efforts to integrate the deaf community into the mainstream of Philippine society. The goal is to empower them and urge them to be productive citizens. At the same time, they are taught skills to help them with their daily survival.

More programs are being pursued to reach out to the deaf community. Aa three-day annual sign language convention was held in Manila, Baguio City and Davao City recently.

The Ascension of Our Lord Parish Church, in Lagro, Quezon City is offering Basic Sign Language course, a three-month course which has 12 sessions. Each session, held every Sunday, runs for four hours, with a total of 48 class hours. Part of the course is another 24 hours of exposure that will be required from each of the students which they will earn during church visits.

List of cities and provinces issuing IDs for persons with disabilities

Republic Act 9442
Republic Act 9442 or the amendment of Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons and for Other Purposes (RA 7277) states that a Person with Disability shall be entitled to the following:

  • Twenty percent (20%) discount from all establishments like hotels, restaurants, etc.;
  • 20% discount on admission fees charged by theaters, concert halls, amusements, etc.;
  • 20% discount for purchase of medicines in all drugstores;
  • 20% discount on medical and dental services;
  • 20% discount on fare for domestic air and sea travel;
  • 20% discount in public railways, bus, etc.;
  • educational assistance through scholarships, books, etc.;
  • discounts in special purchases;
  • provision of express lanes in all commercial and govt. establishments; and
  • additional tax incentives.

However, persons with disabilities cannot avail of these privileges if they don’t present their special identification cards. According to the law and the Implementing Rules and Regulations, only the municipal, city and provincial government units are allowed to issue these IDs.

In my pre-employment preparation subject, I assist my deaf students in getting vital documents that they would be needed before they apply for jobs. Since most of them live in the National Capital Region, we were also able to visit some government offices of the surrounding cities. To my surprise, out of the seventeen highly urbanized cities, only six of them issue these IDs!

Special “thank you” goes to Quezon City government most especially to one of their well-loved officials, Ma’am Luz Cabauatan for assisting us. She said that our students simply show our school’s ID. That’s already a proof that they are a PWD. No need to submit any other requirements. Congratulations too to the mayors of cities of Manila, Malabon and Makati. Their processing procedure is very efficient and fast. Those who will assist you are PWDs themselves. Aldrin Gabriel and Ronald Joseph Santiago, two of our deaf school’s alumni working at Malabon City Hall, help disabled applicants. Aside from the benefits stated, Makati City also grants special free all-day entrance to any movie theaters for their PWD constituents!

I received a copy of the list from National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) office. To my PWD brothers and sisters, here is a list that will guide you in getting your IDs. Some LGUs require you to present your Barangay Certificate, ID photos and medical certificate indicating your disability or other proof of your disability as in the case of deafness. They will then give you a form which you can fill up and submit together with the other requirements I mentioned. As of October 2008, here are the cities and provinces that has issued special IDs:

  1. National Capital Region – Manila, Muntinlupa City, Malabon City, Makati City, Pasay City, Quezon City, Valenzuela City
  2. Region I – Dagupan City, Candon, Agoo, Aringan, Aringay, San Fernando City
  3. Region II – Enrile, Santiago, Kasibu
  4. Region III – Gerona, Olongapo City, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pampanga (all municipalities including Angeles City and San Fernando City), Palayan City
  5. Region IV – Binan, Dasmarinas, Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Cuenca, Calapan
  6. Region V – None
  7. Region VI – Iloilo
  8. Region VII – Cebu, Garcia, Talisay City
  9. Region VIII – None
  10. Region IX – None
  11. Region IX – Malaybalay, Gingoog
  12. Cordillera Autonomous Region – Baguio City, Ilogan, Atok
  13. CARAGA – Bislig, Surigao, Butuan, Tandag City
  14. Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – None

Ito lamang po ang listahan ng mga mabubuting bayan at lungsod na nangangalaga sa kanilang mga nasasakupan na may kapansanan. Maraming salamat po sa inyong pagmamahal sa mga may kapansanan. (Here is the list of good cities and municipalities that care for their constituents who are disabled.) If your local government has begun issuing IDs and are not included in the list, kindly post a comment here so I can add it.

Dun naman po sa mga mayor ng lungsod na wala pa dito sa listahan, mahiya naman kayo! (For those mayors of cities and municipalities that are not on the list, shame on you!) This law has already been passed by the Philippine government since April 2007. Pebrero 2009 na po! Kailan pa kayo susunod sa batas at mangangalaga sa mga taong higit na nangangailangan? (It’s already February 2009. When will you follow the law and take care of people who need it the most?)

DepEd to strengthen Special Education

After reading this news article posted in People’s Journal Online Edition today, I felt it’s good to put it in my blog as a living proof that the Department of Education has promised not to neglect the special education programs.

Hearing impairment is one of those disabilities that form part of the special education system. This means that the deaf youth are entitled as much in education as other children. I personally laud the efforts made by our current DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus. I’m sure he also has some support in store for the deaf group. I notice this because in the news, he only mentioned the braille textbooks to be given to the visually impaired.

Sad to say, support for special education centers rest fully on the whims of the local government units. This means, if the mayor has a heart for the children with special needs, then he will pour out funds for it. But if not, then, it’s “look for your own support or we will shut you down.” dilemma.

I know of one particular case. During our school orientation with the parents of our deaf students, one mother informed me that she had to enroll her daughter all the way to Quezon City even if they live in Marikina City. She said that before there was a SPED center there. But their current mayor shut it down and stopped admitting deaf children. When they inquired why, a representative from DepEd told them that they would be “wasting their resources just to accommodate a few“. They added that they would rather use the classrooms for 50 students than to be used by four or five deaf or other students with physical disabilities. This considering that Marikina City is a first class, highly urbanized, one of the highest tax revenue collection in the country. Yet out of 17 public elementary and 9 public high schools, none of them offer special education. That’s sad, very sad.

In contrast, Quezon City boasts of caring for all of its constituents. SPED centers sprout almost yearly. The city government issued circular memo to all principals NOT to turn down a child from enrolling, even if he/she is differently-abled. Quezon City is the largest city in terms of population, land area and tax collection. Aside from that, most private organizations and special educational institutions are in Quezon city including our school for the deaf. No wonder the city receives so many blessings and attained remarkable achievements.

Here is the excerpt of the news article:

THE Department of Education announced it has strengthened its Special Education programs to cater to children who have special learning needs.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the undertaking is in connection with the observance of Autism Consciousness Week spearheaded by DepEd and Autism Society of the Philippines to raise public awareness on and provide the learning environment for children with special needs.

The move was also in line with DepEd’s thrust to provide education for all and access to public education services particularly parents who cannot afford to send their children to private schools that accommodate kids with special abilities.

DepEd under its wing has 217 SPED Centers that cater to the needs of children with special abilities. The department issues Braille textbooks to help especially visually impaired children.

DepEd said it will join ASP and the National Council for Disability Affairs (formerly known as National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons) in the celebration.

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