By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday called on the government to fast-track the release of the implementing rules and regulations on the Filipino Sign Language Act.
Binay directed her appeal to the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino and other government agencies concerned as she welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the measure into law.
The Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act or Republic Act No. 11106 declares the Filipino sign language as the national sign language of the Filipino deaf. It mandates that the FSL be recognized, promoted and supported as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf.
“Nananawagan po ako sa Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino at iba pang concerned agencies na madaliin ang paglalabas ng IRR upang maagang mapakinabangan ng ating mga deaf ang batas na ito, lalo na ang pagtuturo ng FSL sa mga paaralan, (I’m calling on the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino and other government agencies to expedite the release of the IRR so that our deaf constituents would be able to reap the benefits of this law, especially the teaching of FSL in our schools),” said Binay, the primary author of the law.
Republic Act No. 11106 mandates that the FSL shall be recognized, promoted, and supported as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf.
“Mas magiging katuwang na natin ang deaf sa nation-building dahil mas mapapadali na ang transactions nila sa gobyerno, (Our deaf kababayans would now be our partners in nation-building because this makes their transaction with government faster),” Binay said.
The law specifically mandates all government agencies and government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to use FSL in transacting with the deaf.
Under the law, qualified interpreters and materials should also be provided whenever necessary or requested in activities conducted by government agencies and GOCCs.
FSL would also be the language of instruction for deaf education, without prejudice to the use of other forms of communication depending on individual choice or preference.
Binay said it is high time that FSL and Braille become part of the school curriculum. She said teaching FSL should start from the level of teachers.
“FSL should be taught to everyone in schools regardless if there’s a deaf person on campus or not. FSL should be inclusive, because sign language is also a basic conversational language,” Binay said.
“Filipinos who are hard of hearing will be able to exercise their right to expression and opinion without prejudice to their condition,” Binay pointed out.
She also encouraged government agencies to spearhead the law’s implementation.
“Mahalaga rin ang papel ng pamahalaan sa pagpapalaganap ng batas. Hinihimok ko ang Senado na manguna rito, (The government has an important role in promoting the law. The Senate should take the lead here),” Binay said.
Binay had also filed Senate Resolution No. 480, urging the Senate to provide sign language interpreters during Senate sessions and committee hearings.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Binay’s political party, first provided sign language support in most, if not all, during its 2013 campaign rallies for the benefit of persons with disabilities, particularly the deaf community.
The law also directs the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to have FSL insets in news and public affairs programs, whether in broadcast or in online videos, within a year of the law’s effective date.