House okays bill requiring the use of sign language in news programs

THE House of Representatives has approved on third reading a bill which requires the use of Filipino sign-language inset for local news programs.

The House immediately submitted to the Senate House Bill 6709, the substitute bill of House Bills 4121, 1055 and 3838 authored by Reps. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan De Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), and Raymond Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan), respectively.

The measure’s objective, Casiño said, is to make television more accessible to persons with hearing disabilities.

With the passage of 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.

“State affirms and mandates the rehabilitation, self-development and integration of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) into mainstream society through Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities. Through the said law, television stations are encouraged to use subtitles or sign-language interpreters in their newscast programs,” Casiño said.

However, it can be observed that none of the major Metro Manila news programs are using subtitles or sign-language insets in their reports. Some regional stations are actually utilizing sign language insets with the help of non-government organizations.

Through this measure, the broadcast media will be more accessible to the hearing-impaired.

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