MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into a law an Act declaring the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the national sign language of the Filipino Deaf.
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language Act on Oct. 30 but it was released to the media on Monday (Nov. 12).
Under the law, FSL will be “the official sign language of the government in all transactions involving the deaf and mandate its use in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces.”
“The FSL shall be recognized, promoted, and supported as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf, and as the language of instruction of deaf education, without prejudice to the use of other forms of communication depending on individual choice or preference,” the law read.
It also assigns the Department of Education (DepED), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and all other national and local government agencies involved in the education of the deaf to use and coordinate with each other on the use of FSL as the medium of instruction in deaf education.
The FSL shall also be taught as a separate subject in the curriculum for deaf learners aside from reading and writing in Filipino, other Philippine languages, and English.
The University of the Philippines, Komisyon ng Wikang Filipio (KWF), professional sign linguistics and linguistics researchers in collaboration with the CHED and the DepEd, and the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, to develop guidelines for the development of training materials in the education of the deaf for use by all state universities and colleges (SUCs) and their teachers and staff.
The DepEd, CHED, UP KWF, Linguistic Society of the Philippines and other national agencies and local government units shall, in consultation with professional organizations with expertise and experience in language policy and planning and the deaf community, take appropriate steps to propagate sign language competence among the hearing people by offering FSL as an elective subject in the regular or mainstream curriculum particularly of SUCs.
The FSL shall also be the official language of legal interpreting for the deaf in all public hearings, proceedings, and transactions of the courts, quasi-judicial agencies, and other tribunals, the official language of the Filipino deaf employed in the civil service and all government workplaces, in the health system, in all other public transactions, services and facilities, and in the media.
Government offices shall take reasonable measures to encourage the use of FSL among its deaf and hearing employees, including the conduct of awareness and training seminars of the rationale and use of FSL.
The initial funding of the Act will be taken from the current year's appropriations of the concerned agencies.
Eventually, the amount necessary for its continued implementation will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. (PNA)