Statement of the Commission on Human Rights urging the DepEd to guarantee the use of the Filipino Sign Language in the proposed bill for inclusive education

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights urging the DepEd to guarantee the use of the Filipino Sign Language in the proposed bill for inclusive education

The Commission on Human Rights urges the Department of Education (DepEd) to actively support the use of the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) in the proposed Senate Bill for Inclusive Education in recognition of the Filipino deaf community’s right to cultural and linguistic identity. The Commission, in solidarity with the deaf community, expresses concern with the reference to FSL as simply “sign language” or “basic sign language.” Such generic term negatively impacts the linguistic identity and socio-cultural life of the vulnerable deaf community.

FSL is the linguistic identity of the Filipino deaf community. It has social and cultural significance because of its history and structure, which are supported by researches and decades of advocacy. In addition, two laws have already required its usage in the education of deaf students. These are Republic Act 10533, which is an act enhancing the Philippine basic education system, and Republic Act 10410, which serves to strengthen the early childhood care and development system.

The government has the responsibility to ensure the learning of sign language and to promote the linguistic identity of the deaf community as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The right to linguistic and cultural identity is part and parcel of the higher right to self-determination. It must, therefore, be fully guaranteed especially in the case of deaf Filipinos, which is a vulnerable group. These rights are crucial to the development of their life and social skills toward full and equal participation in society that the State is duty-bound to not only respect but also to fulfill. ■

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