Friday, February 17, 2012

U.P. Department of Anthropology opposes abandonment of Filipino Sign Language for Hearing Impaired Persons

By Chanda Shahani

The abandonment of Filipino Sign Language as a medium of instruction for deaf education is being resisted by the University of the Philipines (U.P.) Department of Anthropology.

In a statement of concern posted on the department's website, Dr. Nestor T. Castro, Department of Anthropology Chair said, “It has come to our attention that the Department of Education (DepEd) has publicly announced that Signing Exact English (SEE) will be the official sign language to be used for Deaf Education and for training instructors in Special Education. We are alarmed with this development because SEE is not the native language of deaf persons in the Philippines. SEE is an artificial language that has been developed by hearing persons to help the Deaf learn spoken and written English. The Filipino Deaf have their own natural language, namely Filipino Sign Language (FSL). This unique language is the basis of Filipino Deaf culture and identity. It is a basic right of all citizens, including the Deaf community, to be taught and educated in their native language.

The new DepEd move violates the provisions of the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, Policy and Organization (1994) that: “Educational policies should take full account of individual differences and situations. The importance of sign language as the medium of communication among the deaf, for example, should be recognized and provision made to ensure that all deaf persons have access to education in their national sign language,” he said.

Castro added that, “Moreover, this recent DepEd pronouncement runs counter to the Department’s own efforts to encourage education based on one’s mother tongue, as contained in DepEd Order No. 74, series of 2009. FSL is the mother tongue of Deaf Filipinos and should thus be used as the official medium of instruction for the country’s schools for the Deaf.”

This statement was approved during the Regular Faculty Meeting of the Department of Anthropology
at U.P. Diliman last September 5, 2011.

Meantime, members of the Filipino Deaf community corrected common misconceptions about their culture, language and community in a forum last October 1, 2011 at the College of Education, U.P. Diliman.

“First, there is said to be a difference between the words “deaf” with a small D and “Deaf” with a big D, and members of the Deaf community prefer to be called “Deaf.”

Second, the labels “deaf-mute”, “deaf-and-dumb”, “pipi” or “hearing-impaired” (implying that there is a medical problem that must be corrected) are not acceptable to members of the Deaf community.

Read the rest here.

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