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Filipino Sign Language to Be Used in Schools, Broadcast Media, and Workplaces – HOUSE

The House committee on social services chaired by Rep. Sandra Eriguel, M.D. (2nd District, La Union) has approved a substitute bill that seeks to declare the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the national sign language of the 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.

The unnumbered bill titled “The Filipino Sign Language Act” substituted House Bill 2094 authored by ACT Teachers Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro.

The bill declares the State promotes the vision taken with Republic Act 10410, also known as the “Early Years Ac,t” and RA 10533, also known as the “Basic Education Act”, which have already recognized FSL in the education of deaf learners from early childhood up to the secondary level.

It declares the FSL as the national sign language of the Philippines. The FSL shall be recognized, promoted, and supported as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf, and as the language of instruction of deaf education, without prejudice to the use of other forms of communication depending on individual choice or preference.

The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and all other national and local government agencies involved in the education of the deaf, are tasked to henceforth use FSL as the medium of instruction in deaf education.

The FSL shall also be taught as a separate subject in the curriculum for deaf learners. The reading and writing of Filipino, as the national language, other Philippine languages, and English shall also be taught to deaf learners. The reading and writing of Filipino, as the national language, other Philippine languages, and English shall also be taught to deaf learners.

To promote the licensing and mobilization of deaf teachers in formal education as well as alternative learning system, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), together with teacher education programs nationwide, are directed to employ alternative assessment procedures which shall consider the conditions, abilities, and social barriers of the deaf teachers. These procedures shall be language-appropriate and culture-fair to deaf education graduates.

The bill requires all national and local government agencies and centers providing deaf education to deaf students to undertake regular pre in-service training and evaluation of their teachers in consultation with the representatives of the Filipino deaf community.

The bill establishes a national system of standards, accreditations, and procedures for FSL interpreting, without prejudice to other forms of communication which respect the right of a deaf person to accessibility, and to seek, receive, impart ideas on an equal basis with others according to their choice.

It enjoins the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF), with the involvement of the deaf community and other stakeholders, to establish a national system of standards, accreditation, and procedures for FSL-interpreting.

Moreover, the bill mandates the courts, quasi-judicial agencies and other tribunals to ensure the availability of a qualified sign language interpreter in all proceedings involving the deaf without prejudice to the use of other forms of communications depending on individual choice or preference.

The FSL shall also be the official language of the Filipino deaf employed in the civil service and in all government workplaces. All government offices shall take reasonable measures to encourage the use of FSL among its deaf and hearing-impaired, including the conduct of awareness and training seminars on the rationale and use of FSL.

The bill instructs government hospitals and health centers to take steps to ensure access of the Filipino deaf to health services, including the free provision of FSL interpreters and accessible materials upon request of deaf patients, or by individuals who have family members who are deaf.

The FSL shall also be the language of broadcast media interpreting. To guarantee access to information and freedom of expression of the Filipino deaf, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) shall, within one year from the effectivity of the Act, require FSL interpreter insets, compliant with accessibility standards for television, in news and public affairs program.

The bill mandates the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, in coordination with the DepEd Secretary, CHED Chairperson, TESDA Director-General, PRC Chairperson, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Secretary of Justice, and the heads of other relevant agencies, and in consultation with representatives of the deaf community, teachers with knowledge and experience with the use of FSL in deaf education, the academe, interpreters, and other persons concerned, to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.

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