Worldwide appeal for Pres. Obama to do what he promised

So, there is a global email-writing campaign among Deaf people and people with disabilities to President Barack Obama. That’s cool! I know he promised many things from the moon to your kitchen sink. And every move he does whether it’s good or bad, affects everybody worldwide. The world will be closely watching his every move and expects a whole lot from him.

After reading a comment from Ms. Andrea Shettle of ReunifyGally, I am convinced that we must always remind the incoming president about his campaign promises. We must let him know that our American brothers and sisters, most especially those who have physical disabilities must not be neglected. And people from every nation must be vigilant in protecting our own interests with which the United States should respect and uphold.

In his official website, Pres. Obama details his promises for disabled people as follows:

  • Provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed;
  • End discrimination and promote equal opportunity;
  • Increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities;
  • Support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities.

Although these promises are basically motherhood statements, these must be backed up by concrete and specific action plans in order to implement them. And all these statements are explicitly stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD). There were already 41 countries that ratified the convention which our country, the Philippines was the 28th. The law has been adopted by the UN last December of 2006, almost two years ago. I was very much surprised that USA hasn’t done so, not even one of those that signed.

With this seemingly laggard stance of the most powerful country in the world and supposedly the role model of democracy and equal rights, the United States must act swiftly in order to reclaim their global leadership in this issue. Once the US ratifies it, it may help encourage other countries to ratify the CRPD. This could have important implications for the status of Deaf human rights and the human rights of people with disabilities generally.

Ms. Shettle states:

Deaf people and people with disabilities from across the United States and around the world have been sending emails to Obama to congratulate him; to thank him for including a mention of people with disabilities in his election night speech; and, most importantly, to remind him of his campaign promises.

These emails can be an important way of making sure that Obama’s team is well aware that people around the world are watching what Obama does next to live up to his promises to Deaf people and people with disabilities. More information about how and why to send emails to Obama is in a slideshow program that you can watch at http://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/why-we-should-email-obama/.

So to my worldwide readers, let’s unite and email Pres. Obama c/o Ms. Kareem Dale and Ms. Anne Hayes (kdale@barackobama.com AND ahayesku@hotmail.com) between now and inauguration day. Both Kareem Dale and others who have worked on disability issues within the Obama campaign are ready to receive your emails on disability-related issues for US President-elect Obama. Emails are welcome from across the United States and around the world. If you are a US citizen, then please say so in your email.

PS: Sorry Andrea, pasting your slide show program doesn’t work in this WordPress blog. 🙁

Closed Caption bill filed in Philippine Senate


Philippine Senator and action movie star Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. filed a landmark bill addressing barriers on access to information. Senate Bill 2872 or Closed Caption Bill which he filed last November 12 requires news programs on television to broadcast with sub-title or captioned.

This is a welcome news especially for people like me who actively campaign for equal rights to information through the aid of technology. TV captions is of greater importance because of its wider audience reach. In my case, I advocate for closed captioning on web videos or films that are shown on the Internet.

Captioning does not only benefit the deaf. Other people such as those who want to learn new language, those who are starting to learn how to read and those who are in a noisy environment would also profit from it.

Although this is a very welcome development, certain issues must be considered in implementing this bill. The most important is the language that will be used. Most schooled Filipino deaf don’t understand the Tagalog vernacular. Since popular news broadcasts are in this format, adding captions won’t be of big help to them. That is why some deaf communities advocate for sign language inset instead of this.

I hope the good senator would instigate further consultations especially to the affected sector. I’m sure the deaf community would be very glad to assist him.

Here is Senator Revilla’s press release:

REVILLA FILES CLOSED CAPTION BILL

To ensure equal access of deaf Filipinos to public information, Senator Bong Revilla today filed a bill that would require all television networks to put closed captions in their news programs.

In his speech during the National Conference on Sustainable Partnership1for Deaf Transformation held today (Wednesday, November 12, 2008) at the Ople Hall of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the senator said there is an estimated 4.5 million deaf Filipinos, most of them poor,who have no access to programs that will help them realize their full potentials. “This is a very sad reality and government makes it worse by turning a blind eye to this fact. This is our biggest hurdle, and we will transcend this if we, the private sector and the government, work together and share in this responsibility,” said Revilla, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.

Revilla stressed that all Filipinos should have equal rights guaranteed under the Constitution. “One of these rights that particularly elude the deaf is access to information. We must uphold Section . 7 of our Constitution that says the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized,” he explained.

In pushing for an equal access to public information of deaf and hard of hearing Filipinos, Revilla simultaneously filed Senate Bill 2872 that would oblige all franchise holders or operators of television networks or stations and producers of television news programs to have these news programs broadcast with closed caption.

Closed-captioning refers to the method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical interval data signal that are decoded at the receiver and superimposed at the bottom of the television screen.

Under the bill, any owner or operator of television networks or stations and any producer of television news programs who shall violate the requirement shall be punished by a fine of not less than Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) but not more than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (PlOO,OOO.OO) or ,by imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not more than one (1) year or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

If the offender is a corporation, partnership or association, or any other judicial person, the president, manager, administrator or the person-in-charge of the management of the business shall be liable therefore. In addition, the license or permit to operate the business shall be canceled.

“The passage of this bill will address the constitutional mandate for the state to recognize the basic right of the people to information on matters of public concern,” Revilla pointed out.

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Is Lucky Me! TV Ad “insulting” to deaf and elderly?

This latest TV commercial of Lucky Me! Pancit Canton toppings created a stir among the disabled group in the Philippines. Some quarters believe that this commercial is insulting to the deaf community because it mocks their disability. There is even a new discussion thread talking about this. They also chat about whether it’s offensive to the elderly as well or not.

The TV ad presents a family gathering on the table where the mother cooked a pancit canton with various toppings. The grandfather, appears to be unable to hear some Tagalog words, mishear some of them and translated it to another which more or less rhymes with the original words as he responds to other members of the family. His “mali mali” or unintentional errors become funny and amusing.

Mr. Manny Batac, President of Kilusan ng Makabagong Pilipinong Maykapansanan (KMPKI), Inc. shared to us a letter of apology from Gen C. Aquino, Media and Public Relations Specialist of Monde Nissin Corporation, makers of the pancit noodle. Mr. Batac apparently sent a complaint letter addressed to the company. Through the letter, Aquino stated that:

We sincerely apologize for anny inconveniences that this may have caused. Rest assured that we did not intend the commercial to be offensive in any way, especially to persons with disabilities. .. and that we have already taken steps in editing the commercial to address your concern.

This letter was also published at Bandera tabloid last November 16. The amended Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons or Republic Act 9442 explicitly defines PUBLIC RIDICULE as “an act of making fun or contemptuous imitating or making mockery of persons with disability whether in writing, or in words, or in action due to their impairment/s.” Violators of this provision would receive a fine of not less than Fifty Thousand pesos (P50,000.00) but not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than two years, or both at the discretion of the court.

Here is that 30-second YouTube video commercial uploaded by Mr. Jaylu12. You be the judge. By the way, the language used here is Tagalog and there is no sub-title in this video. I can’t put captions here because this is not mine. Sa mga kababayan kong Filipino sa buong mundo, ano sa palagay ninyo? Nakakainsulto ba ito o mukhang sobra lang tayo magreact? (To my Filipino countrymen worldwide, what do you think? Is this commercial insulting or are we just overreacting?) 🙂

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Yay! First 20000 Visits!

Yehey! This is a real surprise for me because I did it at a shortest time! With only nine posts and eighteen days later, I got my first 20000 visits! This is also significant because I now have a total of 100 posts since I started blogging actively last April. Congratulations to me! hehehe

I only had one video log, the rest are blogs. However, I achieved my all time most number of visitors yesterday (350) followed by the preceding day [Saturday] with 332. This is due mainly to my video log post about deaf girl’s ordeal while being kidnapped. I guess many people got interested about it and sympathized with Grace Gonzales. Someone even commented that I request Project Readon to add a closed caption on the video.

My other surprise is the photo of Pres. Barack Obama waving I-L-Y sign to the crowd which was just forwarded to me by my deaf friend. It has so far received more than 200 visits, third only to the kidnapped story and the people’s choice all time favorite blog about Marlee Matlin and Heather Whitestone (235). These two posts are of international interests.

This sealed my belief that it will be very hard for my blog to appeal to my local readers. Although my American viewers dropped by a single point (60 – 59%), still my Filipino viewers for the past months remained constant at 25%. Increase of visitors came from other countries. The “kidnapping” blog post happened in the Philippines. However it was appreciated worldwide.

But I’m not going to rest. I would still blog about anything and everything related to the deaf in my country. They are my inspiration. On to my next 22,500 visitors! 🙂

Job fair for disabled persons on November 20

To all persons with disabilities in my country, this good news is for you. SM Foundation will again launch their Job Skills and and Livelihood Fair this November 20 from 10:00 am onwards. It will be held at the Activity Center of SM City North EDSA.

This activity is SM Foundation’s early Christmas gift to our countrymen who are still hunting for jobs. Available careers that are up for grabs are IT related, factory work and call center operations. Applicants must bring their resume and necessary credentials.

Aside from companies’ booths offering job opportunities, skills demonstration of various persons with disabilities who have excelled in their fields will be held simultaneously. MCCID students will be included in the presentation. They will present their skills in web designing, flash animation and graphic designing.

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) is the lead government agency. For more details, please contact their office at (632) 929-8879, (632) 926-1165 or email them at info@ncda.gov.ph. 🙂

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