New law orders gov’t, schools, media to use Filipino Sign Language

Pia Ranada
Republic Act 11106 declares Filipino Sign Language as the national sign language of the deaf and the official sign language of government in all transactions involving the deaf

RIGHTS OF THE DEAF. Deaf students say a short prayer in sign language before the start of their class during the opening of classes at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay City on June 5, 2017. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law Republic Act No. 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act, which officially recognizes FSL as the official sign language to be used by government, schools, and media when relating to the deaf in the Philippines.

RA 11106, signed by Duterte on October 30, orders all government agencies, government corporations, and local government units to use FSL to communicate with the deaf for transactions and other services.

FSL will also now be the sign language used by the deaf who are in the civil service or who work for the government in any capacity.

The law requires courts, quasi-judicial bodies, and other tribunals to provide an FSL interpreter during proceedings involving a deaf person.

Sign language in schools, media

The law also orders that FSL be the medium of instruction when educating the deaf, a policy to be implemented by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

To encourage hearing persons to learn FSL, the law states that FSL must be offered as an elective subject in the regular or mainstream curriculum of state universities and colleges.

It ensures a standardized FSL by ordering the creation of a national system of standards and procedures for FSL interpreting.

The media will also play a role in mainstreaming FSL.

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

La Union 2nd District Representative Sandra Eriguel welcomed the signing of the FSL law.

Eriguel, who chaired the House Committee on Social Services which recommended the approval of the House’s version of the law, said it promotes the welfare of deaf persons.

In a statement sent on Friday, November 16, she said the law “upholds 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.” – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.