CHR asks netizens to stop ridiculing sign language interpreters on TV
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked Filipinos to be more humane during the COVID-19 pandemic, urging people to stop making fun of sign language interpreters on television.
CHR noted that the Filipino sign language (FSL) interpreters were playing an important role, delivering vital information to people who are either hard of hearing or deaf.
“In times of pandemic, access to information is crucial. For this reason, the Commission on Human Rights has continuously advocated for the better access to information for the deaf and those hard of hearing,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“However, in advocating for this cause, it has come to our attention that several social media posts, memes, and comments have ridiculed Filipino Sign Language (FSL) interpreters, particularly those insets usually found in television news and public affairs programs,” she added.
De Guia was referring to a post on social media that went viral recently, where people jokingly questioned why a person on the low right corner of a news television program was supposedly making dance moves popularized on TikTok, a famous short-form video application used by netizens.
In the post, an FSL interpreter was seen gesturing with her hands during a program. People who ridiculed the FSL gestures said that they could not concentrate on the news reports because they were reminded of Tiktok.
CHR said that poking fun at FSL interpreters downplayed the successes of the Filipino deaf community and the fight against COVID-19 itself.
“While visibility is one way to highlight an advocacy, turning FSL interpreters as objects of ridicule trivializes the struggles of the deaf and interpreting communities and downplays triumphs of the Filipino Deaf, such as the passage of the Filipino Sign Language Act, which, among others, makes FSL interpreter insets as mandatory in televised public affairs broadcasts,” De Guia said.
“We urge everyone to be as humane and inclusive in this time of a national health emergency. As we call for everyone’s participation in curbing the spread of COVID-19, let us truly ensure that no one gets left behind by guaranteeing that the deaf, those hard of hearing, and other persons with disabilities have access to timely and relevant information, and they too have an opportunity for their concerns to be heard and seen,” she added.
As of this writing, the entire Luzon is still under an enhanced community quarantine, which has been extended to April 30 from the original April 14 ending, due to the rising number of COVID-19 patients.
According to the Department of Health, there are now at 3,870 patients infected with COVID-19, 182 of whom have died and 96 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 1.4 million individuals have been infected to date, of whom 81,894 have died and 294,660 have recovered.
CHR previously asked the government to look after the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs), including those hard of hearing, as they may face more challenges during the Luzon-wide quarantine.
The CHR also noted that PWDs were more vulnerable to the disease, as some of them would need to visit hospitals regularly for checkup.
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