‘Senyas Kamay’: DSWD R7 promotes Filipino sign language

CEBU CITY, Cebu (PIA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 7 is encouraging the public to  learn  and practice the use of the Filipino Sign Language (FSL).

“We want the Filipino Sign Language to become our way of life. Not only do we communicate because there is a deaf person, but because we have a genuine concern for the deaf community,” said DSWD7 regional director Shalaine Marie Lucero during a recent training held by DSWD on Basic Sign Language of the Deaf in Cebu.

Lucero said that communication with the deaf starts with the basic sign greetings and involves them in conversations using fun and creative signs.

DSWD7 conducted the training for the staff of the Centers and Residential Care Facilities (CRCFs) from the different regions. 

The training aims to promote the FSL to gain more advocates, learners, and practitioners to ensure inclusion of the deaf community. 

This is in line with the Republic Act No. 11106 declaring the FSL as a national sign language of the Filipino Deaf and the official sign for all government transactions involving the deaf, and mandating its use in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces. 

Senyas Kamay_2
Staff of the Centers and Residential Care Facilities participating in the training on Filipino Sign Language (FSL) conducted by the DSWD7. (PIA7)

Learning FSL through Visual-Gestural Comm

The training was conducted by interpreters and deaf trainers from the group “Deaf and Terp,” whose goal is to help sectors attain access to a quality of life using a broad spectrum for the deaf community. 

Participants were equipped with FSL vocabulary and sign parameters suited to the needs of the Filipino deaf. 

This includes basic greetings, survival signs when conversing with the deaf, the sign alphabet, and commonly used words in social service settings using the Visual-Gestural Communication (VGC). 

Trainer Jessica Mae Layo said that FSL is crucial in developing the Filipino deaf community. 

“We will be glad to see DSWD social workers able to communicate with the deaf easily using FSL and VGC. By then, the deaf would be listened to and understood,” Laygo said. 

VGC is a form of non-language communication that involves and uses gestures, facial expressions, body language, and pantomime. 

It is used for asking, giving instructions, and conversing with a deaf person and in writing or drawing on paper or using gadgets or objects to communicate better and explain a point. 

The VGC helps non-deaf individuals to develop skills to interact with individuals who are deaf or hard hearing. 

“Our goal in promoting FSL is using VGC, simple yet understandable basic signs that will help an individual communicate to the deaf community,” added interpreter Febe Sevilla. 

In the same training, the participants were able to practice what they learned among the deaf clients of the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Centre run by DSWD7 by presenting children’s stories and role-playing scenarios in different settings such as emergencies and disasters. (JJT/PIA7) 

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