Bill requires newscasts to air PWD-friendly programs



Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Phillippines—Heightening the concern for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), a bill has been filed requiring television stations to put Filipino sign language insets on their local news programs.

To make the broadcast media accesible to PWDs, particularly the deaf community, Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate have filed House Bill 356, or the Filipino Sign Language Insets for News Programs Act of 2013.

“With around a million PWDs, including those who are deaf, there is a long-standing yet unheeded call to use subtitles or sign language in television programs. Without these aids, deaf individuals are deprived of timely and relevant information that broadcast news provides,” Colmenares said Monday.

In a statement by the House of Representatives, Colmenares said this bill would help in the “rehabilitation, self-development and integration of PWDs into mainstream society” by seeking to amend Republic Act 7277 or the magna carta of disabled persons.

Under section 22 of RA 7277, television stations are encouraged only to incorporate either subtitles or sign-language interpreters.

“However, at present, only a small number of the major news programs are regularly using subtitles or sign-language insets. On the other hand, a couple of regional stations have been utilizing sign language insets with the help of nongovernment organizations,” Colmenares said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Zarate said Filipino sign language is preferred by PWDs than captions or subtitles since only a small percentage of the deaf community had the chance to undergo formal education.

“Less than five percent of the reported 120,000 hearing-impaired are literate or have received any form of schooling, according to the Philippine Deaf Resource Center,” Zarate said in a statement.

The proponents of the bill also hope for HB 356 to pave the way for other television programs, not only news broadcasts, to include sign-language interpreted segments.

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