Casiño asks Senate to pass counterpart measure on sign language insets

PARTY LIST Rep. Teddy Casiño today lauded the passage on third and final reading of his measure requiring sign-language insets for local newscasts and called on the Senate to fast track and immediately adopt a similar measure for it to become a law.

“This is really a welcome development and I thank the advocates for continuously pushing for its passage. House Bill 6709 would make TV programs more accessible to the deaf community. Senate should immediately act on it,” said the solon.

Casiño said even before the filing of the bill, he consulted with the deaf community which in turn has been very much supportive. “In 2011, they embarked on a signature campaign. We had to carry boxes of more than 110,000 signed petitions to Congress and presented it to Speaker Belmonte,” he said.

Congressional hearings also resulted in the preference for Filipino sign language (a language based not on Filipino or any written language for that matter, but on cultural Filipino signs) compared to subtitles and closed-captioning, taking into consideration that a large number of deaf Filipinos are illiterate, according to the Philippine Deaf Resource Center.

Under the bill, all free-to-air television stations will be required to provide Filipino sign language insets, and if possible, closed caption or subtitles in at least two newscast programs a day and special programs covering events of national significance. The measure will also grant the free-to-air television stations the option to provide for Filipino sign language insets in other programs such as those pertaining to cultural affairs, livelihood and those catering to children.

“This will remedy the infirmity of Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, which only encourages television stations to use subtitles or sign-language interpreters in their newscast programs. Matagal na silang encouraged pero wala namang gumagawa kahit hindi naman ganoon kalaki ang gastos sa interpreters. Nitong huli lang nagkaroon, yung iba kapag SONA lang,” he said.

“With this bill, those who are hearing-impaired are deprived of timely and relevant information that broadcast news provides. This will make the broadcast media more accessible to the hearing-impaired and may also pave the way for more sign-language interpreted or captioned programs in the future. I just hope that the Senate also prioritize this bill and make this their Christmas gift to the deaf community in the country,” Casiño said.

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