Duterte approves the Filipino Sign Language Law

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law Republic Act No. 11106, or The Filipino Sign Language Act on October 30, 2018.

The law declares the Filipino Sign Language as the national language of the Filipino deaf and the official sign language of government in all transactions involving the deaf. It mandates its use in schools, broadcast media and work places.

La Union Second District Rep. Sandra Eriguel, who is the chairperson of the Committee on Social Services which recommended the approval of the House version, said R.A. 11106 aims to “uphold the rights of the deaf by promoting their participation in social activities through the use of Filipino Sign Language in schools, the broadcast media, the courts and offices and in all public transactions”.

“It supports the vision taken with the Early Years Act (R.A. 10410) and the Enhanced Basic Education Act (R.A. 10533) which have already recognized Filipino Sign Language in the education of deaf learners from early childhood up to the secondary level,” she added.

The newly signed law mandates the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and all other national and local government agencies involved in the education of the deaf to use FSL as the medium of instruction in deaf education.

It directs the use of FSL as the official language for the Filipino deaf employed in the civil service and in all government workplaces. All national agencies including government owned and controlled corporations, and local government units are mandated to use FSL as the medium of official communication in all public transactions involving the deaf.

It also establishes a national system of standards, accreditations, and procedures for FSL interpreting, without prejudice to other forms of communication which respect the right of a deaf person to accessibility, and to seek, receive impart ideas on an equal basis with others according to their choice.

Courts, quasi-judicial agencies and other tribunals are now required to ensure the availability of a qualified sign language interpreter in all proceedings involving the deaf without prejudice to the right of the deaf to choose other forms of communications depending on individual choice or preference.

The Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) are asked to require FSL interpreter insets in news and public affairs programs.

The law also mandates the propagation of sign language competency among hearing people by offering FSL as an elective subject in the regular or mainstream curriculum in tertiary education, particularly of state colleges and universities. (PR)