[Resources] FAQs for the DEAF RALLY for FSL -Philippine Deaf Resource Center

FAQs for the DEAF RALLY for FSL
on Nov.5, 2012

KNOW THE ISSUES!

WHY ALL THE SUDDEN INTEREST IN FILIPINO SIGN LANGUAGE (FSL)?

The “sudden” interest revolves around House Bill 6079 which was filed this year by Cong. Antonio Tinio (ACT Party List), a proposed legislation “Declaring Filipino Sign Language of the Filipino Deaf and the official language of government in all transactions involving the Deaf, and mandating its use in schools, broadcast media and workplaces”.
WHY IS HB 6079 A LANDMARK BILL STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY DEAF ORGANIZATIONS?

Because the law shall comprehensively address the long standing exclusion of Deaf Filipinos from society: in school, broadcast media, trial courts, government offices, transactions, facilities & services, workplaces and public health facilities.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION OF THE DEAF THAT MAKES HB 6079 NECESSARY?

1. SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETING SYSTEM

It was a target TEN YEARS AGO in the National Plan of Action for the Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2003-2012) to establish a sign language interpreting system. To this date (and as the Decade already draws to a close!), the then National Council for the Welfare for Disabled Persons (currently National Council for Disability Affairs) has exerted no significant effort to attain this goal.

2. BROADCAST MEDIA

Since Republic Act 7277 (Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities) was passed in 1992, TWENTY YEARS AGO, television stations have only been ‘encouraged’ to make newscasts accesible. To this date, the government station says it does not have the technical capability to have either an interpreter inset or captions.

Only ABC5 has interpreted live primetime newscasts and actually compensates interpreters. Interpreting for regional newscasts are primarily done by volunteers from civil society organizations.

3. EDUCATION

a) Despite 1997 DepEd Special Education policy for the use of FSL, actual classroom communication utilizes Sign Supported Speech (speaking and signing at the same time), an artificial way of signing that is not fully comprehensible or accessible to deaf children. This reality is documented in 171 video samples of teacher signing in 9 regions throughout the Philippines by the National Sign Language Committee (2008 Status report on the use of sign language in the Philippines, Philippine Federation of the Deaf)

b) The use of Filipino Sign Language in Deaf education is compliant to:
Philippine government commitment to the ff:
(1) 1994 UNESCO Salamanca Statement on Special Needs (Sect. 21);
(2) U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Sect. 9, 24, 30)
and Dept. of Education policies on:
(1) Special Education (Policies & Guidelines for Special Education, Art. 5, 1.4.1)
(2) Mother Tongue/ Language Based – Multilingual Education (DepEd Order #74, s. 2009)
(3) proposed Early Childhood Care & Devt bill (Early Years Act)
(4) proposed K-12 bill

4. HEALTH FACILITIES

There is no interpreting or accessibility policy for public hospitals and health centers at the
national, regional or local levels.
5. ACCESS TO JUSTICE

Among the earliest documented cases is a Supreme Court case of a deaf girl in 1928. Almost a HUNDRED YEARS LATER, communication needs of abused deaf women and girls remain unaddressed.

In a case monitoring report of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center from 2006-2012 of 346 cases involving Deaf people in 15 regions throughout the country, 213 cases with known data reveal only 11% have court-appointed interpreters.

There is no actual budget item in the Judiciary for the compensation of sign language interpreters in court proceedings, and this competes with several other administrative expenses for the ‘savings’ of lower courts. Since the Supreme Court Memorandum 59-2004 was passed EIGHT YEARS AGO, only TWO interpreters have been officially compensated by the Judiciary.

There is no policy whatsoever in the Department of Justice on sign language interpreting or accessibility. This includes the Phil National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. Thus, deaf persons are charged, arrested, detained, investigated, prosecuted, or incarcerated without fully understanding / being fully understood.

The Katarungang Pambarangay of local government units have no provisions whatsoever for interpreting or accessibility for complaints brought to barangays.
IS THERE REALLY A NEED TO RALLY?

The situation of the Deaf community has existed for a long time and deaf Filipinos have persevered with exclusion for decades.

The indignation of the Deaf community which has sparked these past few weeks comes from the DepEd stand presented at the Congress Committee hearing on HB 6079 on October 16, 2012. The DepEd representative stated opposition to the declaration of FSL as the national sign language and the (mistaken) insistence that what is currently used by the Department is American Sign Language or ASL.

Advocacy and attempts to engage with the DepEd in recent years include the following:
– Complimentary distribution of thousands of copies of the linguistics reference An Introduction to Filipino Sign Language by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center since 2004;
– Regional workshops (which have included hundreds of public school teachers) in Northern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Bicol and NCR since 2005;
– Dialogue with the DepEd Secretary in October 2011 after pronouncements of the use of the oral approach and artificial signing by a DepEd Under Secretary
http://vimeo.com/28876614 (Dialogue between the Deaf and the Dept of Education)
The Deaf community and its supporters argue from the standpoint of human rights:
THE RIGHT TO LANGUAGE,
THE RIGHT TO CULTURE and
THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION.

To oppose this bill is not only resistance to an education issue.
To oppose this bill is to violate the fundamental human rights of a marginalized minority.
IF YOU ARE A PERSON WITH ANOTHER KIND OF DISABILITY, SHOULD YOU JOIN THIS RALLY?

Yes! The marginalization of the Deaf represents the struggle and “invisibility” of ALL Persons with Disabilities who battle daily with inequality, injustice and discrimination.

This indignation of the Deaf community is a symbol for all marginalized / disadvantaged groups who remain powerless at the hands of the majority.
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN THIS RALLY EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T HAVE A DISABILITY, DON’T KNOW HOW TO SIGN, OR AREN’T EVEN INVOLVED WITH THE DEAF COMMUNITY?

Because the Deaf community is fighting for fundamental human rights: the right to language, the right to culture, and the right to self-determination. Human rights is a concern of ALL Filipinos.

Language is important. To many of us, language is like breathing – we dont even think about it. But to thousands of Filipinos, language and communication, and access to information is the lifeline to education, justice, work, health, advocacy, information and participation.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU CANNOT JOIN THE RALLY?

1. Sign the petition list. Tell others to sign in.
Go to http://housebills4deaf.webs.com/

2. Forward this message to media contacts.

3. Share this message in your social network / social media.

4. Learn 100 signs (for FREE)!
Go to the FSL corpus at http://ccs.dlsu.edu.ph:8086/Palito
***

Liza B. Martinez, Ph.D.
Director
Philippine Deaf Resource Center
http://www.phildeafres.org / pdrc@phildeafres.org

*Member, Philippine Coalition on the U.N.Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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