MANILA, Philippines – Members of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s (DLS-CSB) School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) interpreted the presentations during Rappler's Innovation + Social Good Summit (SGS), with the aim to educate the deaf community about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
William Sidayon Jr. and several interpreters during the event described the move as “inclusive.” He said SGS was a big opportunity for people from his sector to participate in the event, although he did feel some nerves at first because of the presence of many important figures.
Value of equal opportunities
According to Sidayon, the targets set by the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were applicable to the deaf community. Providing quality education for all was a particular concern for them because not all members of the Filipino deaf community have access to education materials that cater to their needs. (READ: United Nations PH chief: Make global goals elections issues in 2016)
"It’s a condition the deaf community is looking for," he said of the target.
For the deaf community, Sidayon added, the value of the new global goals go beyond what is explicitly stated: having equal opportunities, whether it is in education or otherwise, would go a long way towards acceptance. Sidayon thinks that having a set of targets based on the goals would also promote the acceptance of members of the deaf community as well as others with special needs.
The value of the goals for the deaf community, and other persons with special needs, lie in its promotion of inclusivity and integration. Sidayon encouraged people to get to know persons with special needs and take into consideration their way of life to better integrate them and their needs.
“If people know their culture, their identity, there won’t be a problem with (integration),” he added.
Applying the message
One of the major concerns Sidayon observe is that many deaf students have a low functional literacy which lead to a lack of skills. This further affects their political awareness and empowerment.
There is currently a lack of schools catering to the deaf community. For its part, Sidayon said that DLS-CSB has been accommodating to students with special needs and has also been spearheading efforts to increase the functional literacy of students who are deaf.
Invitations to events like the Social Good Summit have also given students more platforms for increasing awareness.
For Sidayon, greater attention must be given to the concerns of PWDs. “The concerns of the deaf community should be made a national issue," he remarked. Students, he said, need awareness if they were to be empowered enough to engage in volunteerism.
In the face of such challenges, however, Sidayon remains optimistic, describing the new SDGs as realistic. Moving forward, Sidayon and his sector hopes the SDGs will be "truly inclusive with no one left behind, regardless of any special needs." - Rappler.com
Bea Orante is a Rappler intern.