On Parenting, Acceptance and Education

I got hold of this touching story of a 17-year old deaf girl named Micaella while I was browsing Inquirer.net, my favorite online newspaper. The commentary came from Mr. Roberto Salva, executive director of Catholic Ministry to Deaf People (CMDP).

In May 2009, Micaella died of liver ailment, apparently due to the condition in the estero where she lived to get an education. She was one of the CMDP scholars. She died in order to get an education. Such a sorry state in our country’s educational system.

According to Salva, Micaella’s deafness caused her family to move from their hut in Bulacan to the estero beside the Divisoria mall – despite its unhealthy state – so she could be near a school for the deaf. Such was their love and hope for her.

When his father was interviewed by CMDP as part of their process in accepting scholars, he wrote,

“I have big dreams. I hope my two children will finish their studies and hopefully, in the future, we won’t be on the streets anymore.”

Micaella’s parents are unique among hearing Filipino parents of deaf children. They were not disabled by their child’s deafness.

A study was conducted by CMPD concerning the role of the hearing parents in rearing their deaf children. They initiated the study because they observed in families of their scholars the lack of expressed closeness between the deaf and their hearing parents, and the breakdown in communication.

According to the survey results of among 151 scholars in May 2007, around 81 percent of the household heads (and 77 percent of their spouses) could not pass the evaluation for Basic Sign Language. Fourteen percent of the household heads, mostly fathers, were not communicating with their deaf children at all, including 3 percent of the mothers.

Many organizations for the deaf like MCCID and CMDP, have responded to this dilemma by offering sign language classes to the parents. Although it is one step closer, learning the language is not enough for them to play an active role in their deaf children’s lives.

Continuing with their survey results, 30 percent of the parents expressed sadness when they discovered they had given birth to a deaf child. Twenty percent of the answers were questions, mostly expressing worries (15 percent) about the future of the deaf children – whether there is one. Thirteen percent articulated non-acceptance, 9 percent hurt, 5 percent fear, 4 percent disappointment, and 3 percent sense of loss.

However, as Salva pointed out, there are parents like Micaella’s who immediately get over their sense of distress and focus on what they can do to help their deaf child. They represent roughly 3 percent of the respondents. The others are able to hurdle their issues only gradually as they see their deaf children grow.

The parents’ acceptance of their deaf children, the calming of their worries, and their pro-active sense with regard to their response to the deafness of their children surface when they learn of the opportunity available to, or the ability of, their deaf children to get an education. Forty-one percent of the parents expressed that. They realized that, except for the inability to hear, their deaf children have the same capacity as hearing children.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to get education in the Philippines is not accessible to all deaf Filipinos. There are not many schools for the deaf in the country. We still have not even been able to correctly account for all the deaf children. This leads us to another question, how many deaf children are there in the Philippines anyway?

A deaf girl from Bohol, photo taken from Idea Deaf

Many of the hearing parents of deaf children are unaware of the educational opportunities for their deaf children and of the need of these children to learn a language, especially sign language, for their holistic development.

I am in unity with Mr. Salva in dreaming of a day when education is accessible to all Filipino children – with or without disability, deaf or hearing, of a minority or the majority, rich or poor.

We dream of a day when families like that of Micaella need not risk their lives along the creeks of our metropolis to be near a school for the deaf.

You may view the complete article here. The Catholic Ministry to Deaf People has been an active partner of MCCID in providing “Young Adult Health Education Program” for our deaf students since late 90s. They have also supported some of our students as part of their scholarship programs. I have blogged about their organization and their selfless endeavors here, here and here. Mabuhay po kayo! 🙂

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Yay! First 80,000 visits!

I want to remember the 10,000th blogs visitors so here I am again! To coin Hiro Nakamura of Heroes, Yatta! hehehe

More than two months and fourteen blog posts later, I was able to entice 10,000 readers to come to my site. In my visitor profile, the segmentation remains the same. 41% came from my home country while 38% are Americans and the rest are from other nations.

My WordPress dashboard says that I already posted 190 blogs with 479 approved comments and 454 tags. My blog about the Deaf Icons Heather and Marlee remain on top while Gov. Padaca of Isabela is now trailing just a few points behind. My retrospect on Philippine deaf education is at third. I am humbled by some of my readers who are using my blog posts as a credible reference. 🙂

Another significant milestone I would like to mention is that my blog is currently ranked 17th worldwide among deaf related topics according to Postrank.com! PostRank is a scoring system that ranks any kind of online content, such as RSS feed items, blog posts, articles, or news stories. They based their rank on social engagement, which refers to how interesting or relevant people have found an item or category to be.

According to their site info page,

PostRank measures engagement by analyzing the types and frequency of an audience’s interaction with online content. An item’s PostRank score represents how interesting and relevant people have found it to be. The more interesting or relevant an item is, the more work they will do to share or respond to that item so interactions that require more effort are weighted higher.

So many people find my blog about deaf very interesting and relevant! Yehey! Thank you very much my dear readers, whether you are hearing or deaf! On to my 90,000th visits! 🙂

SPED Expo, December 1 at Glorietta Makati

The Special Education Expo 2009 will be held on December 1, 2009 at the Glorietta Activity Center, located at the main building of the Glorietta Center.

Here are more details:

Date: December 1, 2009
Venue: Glorietta Activity Center [View Map]
Operating Hours: 10 AM – 8 PM
Entrance Fee is PHP50 for adults. Children under 12 years old is Free of Charge.

All fees will be donated to the event’s chosen charity, Support and Empower Abused Deaf Children, a partner of MCCID College. The organization is headed by Ms. Liway Caldito, a former teacher of Philippines School for the Deaf.

For the teachers, you may also request for Certificate of Attendance. To do an advanced request, please send email to spedexpoph[at]gmail.com Email subject “CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE”.

Accompanying Events: Exhibitor’s Presentation, Story-telling, celebrity guest performances, Learning block sessions by Special Education practitioners and experts, Raffle Draws, Entertainment & Games.

TENTATIVE FAIR PROGRAM ACTIVITIES

• Learning block sessions – forum and informal lecture on selected topics on special education by esteemed experts in the academe
• Games and Raffle Draws – prizes to be given away during games (may be sponsored or by the organizer) for kids
• Story Telling – book and interpretative reading by celebrities and/or reading groups
• Intermission – short performances by celebrities and children from special education schools
• Presentations – exhibitors and sponsors’ presentations of their products and services

This is a repost from Special Education Expo Blog Site.

Google adds automatic captions to YouTube



Good news to the closed caption advocates like me! Google, in a significant development for the deaf, announced on Thursday it was adding automatic caption capability to videos on YouTube.

Google said machine-generated captions would initially be available only in English and on videos from 13 YouTube “partner channels” but it hopes to extend the feature eventually to all videos uploaded to the site.

“Google believes that the world’s information should be accessible to everyone,” said Vint Cerf, a Google vice president who has been described as the “Father of the Internet.”

“One of the big challenges of the video medium is whether it can be made accessible to everyone,” said Cerf, who also holds the title of “Chief Internet Evangelist” at Google.

Speaking at Google’s Washington office, Cerf noted that he has a “great personal interest” in the closed caption capability. Cerf, 66, is hearing impaired and has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 13.

Since last year, YouTube users have been able to manually add captions to videos but the feature is not widely used and the vast majority of content on the site does not have captions.

Noting that more than 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, Ken Harrenstien, a deaf Google software engineer, said “the majority of user-generated video content online is still inaccessible to people like me.”

Google uses advanced speech recognition technology to generate the automatic captions on YouTube and Harrenstien noted that it is not perfect — the word “sim card,” for example, came out as “salmon” during one demonstration.

But he said the technology “will continue to improve with time.”

“Today I’m more hopeful than ever that we’ll achieve our long-term goal of making videos universally accessible,” he said in a blog post. “Even with its flaws, I see the addition of automatic captioning as a huge step forward.”

Although the automatic captions can only be generated from videos in English for the moment, they can be simultaneously machine-translated into any of the 51 languages Google supports.

In addition to the automatic captions, Google announced a new feature that will make it easier for users to add captions to their videos.

Called automatic caption timing it involves creating a transcript of the video and uploading it to YouTube. Speech recognition technology is then used to create captions for the video and insert them appropriately.

“This should significantly lower the barriers for video owners who want to add captions, but who don’t have the time or resources to create professional caption tracks,” Harrenstien said.

Both features will be available in English by the end of the week.

The university partners whose videos will allow automatic captioning include the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, Columbia University, Duke, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Yale and the University of New South Wales in Australia.

National Geographic’s YouTube channel will also include the feature as will most of Google and YouTube’s own channels.

Now, if they can only put automatic captions on our sign language videos… That would be the day! 🙂

Deaf Designed Site won Best Organization Website

Good news to our Filipino deaf web designers! The Official Website of the National Council on Disability Affairs won in the Association/ Organization category of the 4th Digital Filipino Web Awards this year.

This is the first time NCDA site won the award given annually by the DigitalFilipino.com Club whose members judge the nominations from the public in over 40 categories. The site was designed by Ervin Reyes, an award winning Deaf web designer together with yours truly under MCCID College of Technology.

The Digital Filipino Web Awards were given last Friday, November 13 at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City. It was part of the Digital E-Commerce Summit, which started in Thursday.

From Left: Me, Sir Dandy Victa of NCDA and a representative from Bitstop Network Services who nominated the website

The NCDA site award was received by Mr. Dandy Victa, Assistant Chief of Technical Cooperation Division. Yours truly gave the brief overview of the website. I also focused on the promotion of web accessibility.

Digital Filipino Web Awardees
The websites were reviewed and judged “for their ability to create a noticeable presence on the Internet—their ability to be seen and heard among all the noise and clutter of the Net,” said the award body.

“The DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards aims to advocate the use of Internet and e-commerce for business development, through the identification, promotion and highlighting of best e-commerce practices from various websites in the Philippines,” it said.


The criteria for determining the winners were:

• Search engine readiness—title tags, keywords and page strengths.

• Content/organization—clear purpose, target audience clearly defined, citation of sources whenever used, freshness, originality and accuracy of information.

• Structure and navigation—opening page, content connection and transition, writing and conventions, ease of navigation and link usefulness.

• Design and functionality—overall layout, colors, background and text.

• Technical performance—page loading, browser flexibility and live links.

• Interactivity—audience involvement and overall experience

In behalf of the organizers of the Digital Filipino Web Awards, thank you very much for the honor you gave to us. To God be the Glory! 🙂