Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The deaf are ‘listening’ | BusinessWorld Online Edition

The deaf are ‘listening’ | BusinessWorld Online Edition

HOW WILL the impeachment trial help the poor? How necessary is this exercise to jump-starting the economy, creating more jobs, and getting more food on the table of the poorest of the poor?" someone who considers the process a circus or a form of entertainment asked in these pages before the start of the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding judge of the Impeachment Court, gave the answer in his opening statement. Said he: "Its success or failure to achieve the purpose for which the Constitution has provided this mechanism as part of our system of checks and balances and of public accountability may spell the success or failure of our democratic institutions, the strengthening or weakening of our sense of justice as a people, our stability or disintegration as a nation, and the triumph or demise of the rule of law in our land."

The world has seen the impact of the failure of democratic institutions and the demise of the rule of law not only on the poor but on the entire populations of Somalia and North Korea. The impeachment proceedings will determine whether there would be institutions to manage the economy, create more jobs, and put food on the table of Filipinos, whether this nation would meet the fate of Somalia or North Korea. For this reason, the trial of the highest magistrate of the land should be of utmost interest and concern of every Filipino citizen and not be dismissed as a circus or entertainment.

A previous impeachment trial led to the ouster of a duly elected president and his replacement by one whose administration was so questionable that one of its consequences is the impeachment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the case being heard by the present Impeachment Court.

It is gratifying to note that the mainstream media are giving the hearings the commensurate time and space, allowing the people of this land to know how the trial is proceeding. We compliment ABS-CBN for allowing through its cable channel ANC the deaf and hard-of-hearing to see and "hear" live this momentous episode in the history of our country by having an interpreter of what is said during the proceedings.

When Benigno Aquino III was inaugurated president, the deaf wanted to know what he promised to do as president. They were frustrated due to the absence of an interpreter. They had to wait the following day to read in the papers what President Aquino said at his inauguration. So, the deaf students of the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde asked their instructors to make representations with the TV networks to allow inset interpreting of President Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address. ABS-CBN’s ANC, GMA newsonline, and TV 5 warmly accepted SDEAS’s offer. SDEAS and its partner schools and organizations provided interpreters and Deaf consultants to the networks. The networks were so pleased with the additional "audience" generated that inset interpreting has become a regular feature of their coverage of SONAs. ABS-CBN decided to partner with SDEAS of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde in the coverage of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona.
Believing that college education should be accessible to members of the Deaf community, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde opened in 1991 the SDEAS as a vocational course in bookkeeping and accounting. In 1996, the program started to evolve, becoming a full-fledged School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies in 2000. It now offers a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Studies. Students can choose between Multimedia Arts, which prepares students for careers in graphic design and computer imaging, and Business Entrepreneurship, which trains students in setting up, operating, and managing small to medium-size businesses.

Aside from academics, SDEAS develops self-esteem and leadership skills. Recognizing that the Deaf community has its own language, the medium of instruction is the Filipino sign language. Before students can gain entry into the degree program they are required to attend classes on basic competency for sign language communication.

Since 2002, SDEAS has been a partner of Post-Secondary Education Network-International (PEN-International), a global collaboration of colleges and universities for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The partnership brought into SDEAS new instructional technology, telecommunication technology, Web technology, curriculum development, and faculty training and development.

Just last September, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde entered into an agreement with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf of the Rochester Institute of Technology to create the Pre-College Education Network, a collaborative effort to improve high school education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students in ASEAN. The long-term objective of this network is to influence attitudes, practices, and policies among ASEAN members to remove the barriers that deny deaf and hard-of-hearing people access to post-secondary education, technology, and employment. The agreement makes De La Salle-College of St. Benilde the base of the collaborative effort providing secondary, upper secondary, and transition education for the deaf in ASEAN.

Kudos to De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

~ Oscar Lagman

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