Cebu deaf community seek approval of sign language law
May B. Miasco/ATO (The Freeman) - November 4, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The deaf community in Cebu City is pushing for the approval of a proposed ordinance that requires all local television networks in the city to provide an inset of sign language interpreters in their news broadcast.

In a public hearing yesterday, members of the deaf community stressed on the importance of having sign language interpreters on television, which is their main source of information, particularly when it comes to news.

“The passage of this law is very important for us deaf Filipinos because majority of the activities and information we hear in the society particularly in disasters and emergency situations would not benefit from us because we do not have access (on information) and our rights as deaf Filipinos are being isolated,” said Janice Aparri, president of the Cebu Gualandi Association of the Deaf, Inc., through interpreter, John Paul Maunes, who is one of the co-founders of Philippine Accessible Deaf Service, Inc.

The subject of the discussion was the proposed ordinance of City Councilors Lea Ouano-Japson and Alvin Dizon entitled: “An ordinance requiring all TV stations airing in Cebu City to provide a sign language in certain segments of their broadcast” or “the sign language ordinance.”

The organizations said that the ordinance is in line with their aim for the government to enact barrier-free policies that address the information and communication needs for the hearing-impaired.

The proposed ordinance is supported by the Philippine Accessible Deaf Service, Inc.; Cebu Gualandi Association of the Deaf, Inc.; and the Cebu City Persons with Disability Affairs Office.

“Most of the time, when there is no interpreter, we do not understand what is going on. We cannot understand what’s on the news. Oftentimes, in disasters and emergency situations, we are left out. We cannot understand and it left us vulnerable. For the longest time, the world has been close to us,” said Maunes.

 “Currently, some of the news programs do have insets but we do not benefit from them because it’s quite small and it is not constant… Unlike in other countries, the inset is really big,” he added.

City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, for his part, said he has no doubt on the approval of the proposed measure since professional fees of interpreters, ranging from P350 to 750 per hour, is way smaller compared to the advertising costs.

In a separate interview, Leo Lastimosa of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, said the local network had been providing insets already in partnership with the Cebu Gualandi Association of the Deaf, Inc., which is a voluntary undertaking of the latter.

He suggested that the proposed measure should stipulate the specific size of the inset that will appear on screen.

“(It should) specify the size. We will see the technical feasibility. We can implement it and we are open to that (idea). After all, we want to serve the community. What is acceptable to them, we would do it,” he said in a phone interview.

For GMA-7 News and Public Affairs, program manager Suzzane Alueta describes the proposed ordinance as a “good call” however changes on the technical aspect needs the approval of their head office in Manila.

“It’s a good move. I don’t see why not (the proposed measure be approved). But before implementing it when it is already approved, we need to inform the headquarters to come up with a plan for its implementation,” she said.- (FREEMAN)

ACIRC CEBU CITY CEBU CITY PERSONS CEBU GUALANDI ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF CITY COUNCILOR JAMES ANTHONY CUENCO CITY COUNCILORS LEA OUANO-JAPSON AND ALVIN DIZON DEAF DISABILITY AFFAIRS OFFICE JANICE APARRI JOHN PAUL MAUNES PHILIPPINE ACCESSIBLE DEAF SERVICE
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