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Cultural and Linguistic Consideration for Filipino Deaf Education

                               by: Ma. Lovella A. Borja

August 2004 - a four days seminar on Cultural and Linguistic Considerations for Filipino Deaf Education was attended by two Franciscan Deaf Center (FDC) members, Ms. Myra Fe P. Fulguerinas and Ms. Ma. Lovella A. Borja. The seminar was held in Iloilo City, a training workshop for parents and people working with the Deaf. It was facilitated by the SPED-Integrated School for Exceptional Children.

 

The seminar aims to provide information about Deaf Culture, Filipino Sign Language, Social and Emotional needs of the Deaf, and model teaching. The resource persons were from Philippine Federation of the Deaf - headed by Raphy Domingo; Filipino Sign Language Production - Jennifer Ramirez; Rizalina Celestial and Jordan Pio SPED Teachers, Dawn Blankenship of the Peace Corps Volunteer and Social Worker. The training featured some of the countries teaching Deaf adults, educators, and advocates as well as local Deaf community members.

 

On the first part of seminar, a short opening program conducted by the Hearing Impaired students of SPED school with their presentation on Deaf Culture, Deaf Life, Deaf Experiences…as part of their culture.

 

Deaf culture is much like a small town which everyone knows one another. As part of their unique language, it is important to convey family values, roles and expectations. The presentations were shown for the awareness of hearing people about Deaf culture.

 

The most central inputs among the topics were…

 

*What can you do to advocate for the Deaf?

 

LEARN THE LANGUAGE

 

Most often, a teacher is the first contact with sign language; therefore it is imperative that you learn the rules of the language and the culture. Hire a Deaf tutor to help you improve.

 

DON’T JUST SAY IT … SIGN IT

 

When you are in the presence of Deaf people, sign everything you say to other hearing people so Deaf students learn what is happening around school and in your room. You are modeling relationship skills. If you do not sign in their presence it is considered disrespectful, regardless if you are teacher or not.

 

WHO’S THE EXPERT?

 

If you don’t know how to explain a concept in sign or you want to make it more clear, ask your students how they would sign it.

 

PARALLEL TEACHING

 

Consider hiring a Deaf teacher’s aide. They can explain the concepts you are unable to and in more detail. Furthermore, it provides Deaf adult role models for youth and it employs a Deaf person.

 

SCHOOL AS A COMMUNITY

 

If there are school events, have someone interpret what is happening. Prepare students before you go to the event so that they can anticipate what they happen.

 

WHEN CLASS IS SCHEDULED, TEACH!

 

It is important to consider the impact. If they cannot read or write, they will be unable to find work in the future.

 

The DECS gives some classroom recommendations for serving children with hearing loss. One of the important things to consider with Filipino Deaf education is that most classes are multi grade level with students differences in levels (some are hard of hearing, some post lingual Deaf, and some profoundly Deaf since birth). And in some cases, there are large age differences among students.

 

According to the Republic of the Philippines, Special Education division policies and guidelines for Special Education: “The modified curriculum for the hearing impaired shall emphasized communication and language development based on the philosophy of total communication which is trained to meet the individual child communication, and educational needs, the curriculum in addition, shall include special instruction in speech reading, auditory training and rhythm. The multi sensory approach shall be maximized in speech/speech reading and sign language shall be encouraged starting in grade 1. The Filipino Sign Language shall be used in the Education of the Hearing Impaired.” From the current DepEd policy on Sign Language in classroom.

 

On interpreting, the sessions discussed about some of the current issues in interpreting in the Philippines, Code of Ethics, and Tips on how to use the interpreter.

 

Educational Interpreting Code of Ethics - It is generally accepted that due to a Deaf student's young age, educational interpreting requires the interpreter to become a mentor for the Deaf student. However, the age of the consumer does not merit an interpreter the obligation to interfere. Students need guidance from a variety of peers, teachers, and counselors. The appropriate role of the interpreter is a linguistic conduit and cultural mediator, not a moral compass. Although the standard Code of Ethics may seem limited, these limitations are necessary to guide interpreters and consumers to make better ethical decisions about the interpreter's role.  It is essential that the interpreter follows the standard Code of Ethics as a common sense guide. Staff and students will reap long-term benefits from an interpreter's professionalism and commitment to the Code of Ethics.

 

Then, what will they do if the Deaf ready to graduate or not? What to consider in a Deaf.

 

The transition services for Deaf Youth were discussed. The purpose of this is to strengthen and coordinate education and related services for Deaf youth with currently in school or who recently left school to help them make the transition to postsecondary education, vocational training, competitive employment (including supported employment), continuing education, independent and community living, or adult services; to stimulate the development and improvement of programs for special education at the secondary level; and to stimulate the improvement of the vocational and life skills of students with disabilities to better prepare them for the transition to adult life and services.

 

On the second part of the seminar, Filipino Sign Language (FSL) was imposed featured from the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD)-Mr. Raphael Domingo a Project Consultant, and from CSB-FSLP.  The topics were the following:

 

        History of Sign Language

        Some frequently asked questions FAQs

        Categories of Sign Language in FSL

        History of FSL -FSL family linkages

        What is “Language”?  (Arbitrary and iconic)

        Future Impact of FSL on Education of the Deaf

*Barrier Free Environment

*Upgraded Environment – use of transparency, OHD-PowerPoint, visual presentation

        Effective Communication Access: at Home and at School

-         at HOME, the Deaf acquired the first language

-         at SCHOOL, the Deaf expose the Sign Language

        Bilingual Sign Language

-         community Vs school         

-         phonological

-         lexico-semantic

-         morphological

 

By considering the effects of language, culture, and power, the mediator can make a judgment that is fair, respectful, and inclusive of the needs of Deaf people.  But perhaps most important is the attitude of the mediator:  "a good mediator must have a very good attitude regardless of whether or not they can sign. Having a good attitude means understanding [and respecting] the cultural values of the Deaf community." 

 

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