SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The Filipino deaf are close to getting their official communication medium with the approval on second reading of House Bill (HB) 7503 or the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) in the House of Representatives.
HB 7503 mandates the state to ensure the Filipino deaf can exercise the right to expression and opinion by requiring the use of FSL in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces when communicating with the deaf.
Principally authored by Rep. Antonio Tinio, the bill is in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Under the said bill, the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher and Technical Education (CHED), the Technical Educational 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 be taught as a separate subject in the curriculum of 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 University of the Philippines and the Komisyon sa Wikanng Filipino (KWF), professional sign linguistics and linguistic researchers, in collaboration with the CHED, DepEd and the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, shall come up with guidelines in the development of training materials for the education of the deaf. These materials shall be used by all state universities and colleges as well as their teachers and staff.
In the justice system, the FSL shall be the official language of legal interpreting for the deaf in all public hearings, proceedings, and transactions of the courts, quasi-judicial agencies, and other tribunals.
To ensure effective and equal access of the deaf to justice and facilitate their effective roles as direct and indirect participants in the legal system, the courts, quasi-judicial agencies, and other tribunals are hereby mandated to ensure the availability of a qualified sign language interpreter in all proceedings involving the deaf, without prejudice to the right of the deaf to choose other forms or modes of communication, if they so prefer.
Hearings, proceedings and transactions shall include those that are held in police stations and before the Lupong Tagapamayapa as well as preliminary investigations and other initial stages in the court, other quasi-judicial bodies and tribunals.
The FSL also shall be the official language of the deaf employed in the civil service and in all government workplaces. All government offices shall take reasonable measures, including the conduct of awareness and training seminars on the rationale and use of FSL, to encourage its use among deaf and hearing-impaired government employees.
In the health system, state hospitals and all health facilities shall ensure access of the Filipino deaf to health services, including the free provision of FSL interpreters and accessible materials upon the request of deaf patients or individuals who have deaf family members.
The FSL also shall be used as the medium of official communication in all other public transactions, services and facilities.
Likewise, the FSL shall be the language of broadcast media interpreting. The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (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 programs.
The bill mandates the KWF, in coordination with the DepEd Secretary, CHED Chairperson, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director-General, Professional Regulation Commission 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. /R. B. Bundang