Senator Win Gatchalian is urging local government units (LGUs) to tap sign language interpreters to assist deaf and mute recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Gatchalian cited the example of Valenzuela, where sign language interpreters are assigned to COVID-19 vaccine centers. The lawmaker added that aside from assisting deaf and mute residents with COVID-19 vaccination, sign language interpreters can also assist in the distribution of cash aid.
“Importanteng maalalayan natin nang husto ang mga PWDs (persons with disabilities) natin lalo na’t hindi lahat may guardians. Sa amin sa Valenzuela, as much as possible nagbabayad kami ng mga sign language interpreters para maka-communicate sila,” said Gatchalian.
“Ang panawagan ko sa iba pang LGUs ay magprovide ng sign language interpreters para ‘yung mga deaf and mute natin ay makapag-communicate doon sa mga government employees pagdating sa vaccination at pati na rin sa pagkuha nila ng ayuda,” the lawmaker added.
Republic Act No. 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act recognizes the FSL as the national sign language of the Philippines. It provides that the FSL shall be recognized, promoted, and supported as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf. Gatchalian is a co-author of the FSL Act.
The promotion of FSL is also pronounced in laws such as Republic Act No. 10410 or the Early Years Act of 2013 and Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.
Gatchalian is also the sponsor and a co-author of Senate Bill No. 1907 or “Instituting Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act.” The proposed measure seeks to establish Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRC) in every city and municipality nationwide.
These proposed ILRCs will offer services such as linguistic solutions for deaf learners’ concerns, speech-language pathology and audiology services, physical and occupational therapy, counseling and rehabilitation, and medical and transportation services, among others.
Multidisciplinary teams composed of professionals and experts such as special needs teachers, educational psychologists, guidance counselors, psychometricians, developmental pediatricians, physical therapists, and speech and language therapists, among others, will staff these ILRCs.