Filipino Sign Language

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Filipino Sign Language
Philippine Sign Language
Signed in: Philippines
Total signers: 100,000 (1986 Gallaudet University)<ref>Ethnologue 14 - Languages of the Philippines</ref>
Language family: Related to American Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: sgn
ISO 639-3: psp

Template:Infobox Language/signnotice

Filipino Sign Language (FSL) or Philippine Sign Language, is a form of manual and visual communication used by the deaf and those who are unable to speak in the Philippines. This is a vocabulary of signs and symbols communicated through the use of the hands of a person trained in this skill, particularly those who cannot hear and the mute, but also includes those who served as interpreters for this form of communication.<ref name=Abat/>

FSL has a very strong influence from American Sign Language (ASL). Some Deaf even go as far as saying that only ASL is true sign language and FSL is just some kind of home gestures. Also there is a strong influence of Signing Exact English (SEE) which is used in most of the schools for the Deaf in this country.<ref>Filipino Sign Language - Official Website</ref>

Total communication is used in deaf schools, with teachers both speaking and signing. Used by the USA Peace Corps, American Sign Language is well known as a second language. Population of users estimate at about 300,000 hearing impaired individuals and about 100,000 to 4.2 million people who have hearing problems.<ref>Deaf Statistics - Gallaudet University Library</ref>

In 2003, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf conducted a project for three years to develop dictionaries and teaching materials as well as a database of sign language data. It was funded with the assistance of the Japanese government.<ref>Project for Publication of "Introduction to Filipino Sign Language" - Embassy of Japan in the Philippines News Archive 2003</ref>




1600s and 1700s

During the time of the Spaniards in the Philippines, one of the those who used sign language as a method of teaching catechism and used it also to administer the sacrament of baptism to the deaf was Father Ramon Prat (also known as Raymundo del Prado or Ramón del Prado), a Spaniard who speaks Catalan and who arrived at Dulac, Leyte during the latter days of 1590. Another person who is believed to have first used sign language in the Philippines for communication and teaching was Juan Giraldo, a Frenchman who arrived at Dulac, Leyte in 1595. To achieve an effective manual and visual communication and teaching program, however, the monastic missionaries first had to learn local Philippine languages. Furthermore, in relation to the general history of signing, Abat and Martinez pointed out that the "interest in" the study of "sign languages is well documented in the life and works" in Europe of an "Spanish ex-Jesuit" named Lorenzo Hervás.<ref name=Abat/>

American influence

It is believed that the sign language from the United States had a great influence over the sign language used by the deaf in the Philippines. The School for the Deaf and Blind (SDB) – now known as the Philippine School for the Deaf was established in 1907.<ref>A century of absolute commitment - The Manila Times Internet Edition</ref> It was founded by Ms Delia Delight Rice, an American teacher. Rice, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was invited to the Philippines to spearhead a pioneering school for the handicapped in the country and its Asian neighbors. The request came from David P. Burrows, then director of education in the Philippines, who trusted the educator’s expertise in special education. Rice, whose parents were both deaf, had immeasurable experience in the field. This school was run and managed by American principals until the 1940s.

Another great influence to providing education for the deaf was the assignment of volunteers from the U.S. Peace Corps, who were stationed at various places in the Philippines from 1974 through 1989. Influence from the United States also included the arrival of religious organizations, teachers, publications, and videos that utilized and promoted American Sign Language and Manually Coded English linguistic sign systems.<ref name=Abat>Abat, Rafaelito M., and Liza B. Martinez. The History of Sign Language in the Philippines: Piecing Together the Puzzle, Philippine Federation of the Deaf / Philippine Deaf Resource Center, Philippine Linguistics Congress, Department of Linguistics, University of the Philippines, January 25-27, 2006, 8 pages (PDF), retrieved on: March 25, 2008</ref>

Native origins in the Philippines

During the early days of the 1990s, one of the local influence were the research activities done by Liza Martinez and Rafaelito M. Abat. Martinez was an individual without any hearing impairment but knowledgeable with sign language and also a former member-teacher at the University of Gallaudet, a university for the deaf; while Abat was a deaf researcher. Martinez is the current director of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center.<ref>Who we are - Philippine Deaf Resource Center Official Website</ref> She was one of the pioneers who begun studies about the use of sign language in the Philippines. She also pioneered the publication of reading materials and the launching of projects about Philippine sign language.<ref name=Abat/>

Chronology of events

Rafael Abat and Liza B. Martinez grouped the "milestones and landmark events" of the development of Filipino linguistic signing into four waves, namely those that occurred in the early 20th century, the 1960s, the middle of the 1970s, and the 1990s.<ref name=Abat/>

First wave

The emergence of Filipino Sign Language as one of the modern-day sign language disciplines in Asia can be traced from the founding of the Manila School for the Deaf (now called as the Philippine School for the Deaf) during the early days of the 20th century, a time when first contact with American Sign Language occurred. This was followed by the formation of the Philippine Association for the Deaf during the early 70s.<ref name=Abat/>

Second wave

In the 1960s, contact with American Sign Language continued through the launching of the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation and the Laguna Christian College for the Deaf. The Bible Institute for the Deaf (BID) was started by the Rev. S. Wayne Shaneyfelt, a missionary of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, USA. He came to the Philippines in October 1962. He founded BID as a ministerial school on October 12, 1962 with publications continuing in 1979 and 1987.<ref name=Abat/><ref>History of BID - Bible Institute for the Deaf Official Website</ref>

Third wave

In the 1970s, further contact with American Sign Language - in addition to the influence of the Manually Coded English (MCE) signing systems - continued. The Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf was established, as well the Luneta Coffee Shop managed by the Philippine Association for the Deaf. From the second wave 's meetings of the deaf outside the vicinity of Manila, the deaf community expanded their activities during the third wave to the provinces, through the employ of schools and communal gatherings.<ref name=Abat/>

Also during the middle of the 1970s, the first group of American Peace Corps volunteers arrived. With regards to literature, the Rev. S. Wayne Shaneyfelt Love Signs publications were printed, a program which included the documentation of traditional Filipino signs.<ref name=Abat/>

Fourth wave

During the fourth wave of the 1980s and the 1990s, the CAP School for the Deaf was launched (1989), together with the Program for the Hearing Impaired at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (1991). Meanwhile, beginning in 1983, the International Deaf Education Association (IDEA) led by former Peace Corps volunteer, G. Dennis Drake, established a series of residential elementary programs in Bohol, funded in part by sales at The Garden Cafe, a deaf-owned and operated restaurant and training center located in Tagbilaran City.<ref>Idea Official Website</ref> Subsequent expansion increased the deaf-operated businesses, and helped create Bohol Deaf Academy (2005), a residential high school specializing in TESDA approved vocational coursework. In Manila, a computer-skill-related program was also established through the Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf (1993). A School of Special Studies (later became School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies) was also opened, which offered a Bachelor in Applied Deaf Studies at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Deaf organizations proliferated during this period with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf as a prominent figure. Influence from Gallaudet University occurred through its batches of Filipino and American graduates, and with Rev. S. Wayne Shaneyfelt's 1987 Philippine Sign Language in the Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deafness, ed. J. Van Cleve, 97. New York: McGrawHill. The National Sign Language Committee also made efforts to prepare the Status Report on the Use of Sign Language in the Philippines.<ref name=Abat/>

Filipino Sign Language Font

The first and only Filipino Sign Language Font is now available for free and is ready for download. Called MCCID FSL Font because it's exclusively designed by a deaf student of Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf College of Technology.<ref>Filipino Sign Language Font Now Available for Download - MCCID College of Technology Official Website</ref> This true type font belongs to the dingbat fonts. A dingbat is a term used in the computer industry to describe fonts that have symbols and shapes in the positions designated for alphabetical or numeric characters.

MCCID FSL Font has all the equivalent alphabets and numeric characters that are used in fingerspelling and hand signs. The hands used are similar to those with white gloves so special markings like fingernails and palm lines don’t appear. The characters are comic like in order to make the hands clearer and easier to copy. It also has special characters that are not commonly included in other fonts. MCCID College of Technology aims for the font to be accessed and installed freely to any computers in order to promote the learning of sign language and increase people’s awareness in learning this special language of the Deaf people.<ref>Filipino Sign Language Font - Filipino Sign Language Font Facebook Fan Page</ref>

Publications about Filipino Sign Language

These are selected publications about sign language used in the Philippines:<ref name=Abat/>

  • An Introduction to Filipino Sign Language (PDRC/PFD, 2004)
  • Filipino Sign Language: A Compilation of Signs from Regions of the Philippines (PFD, 2005)
  • Status Report on the Use of Sign Language in the Philippines (NSLC)

See also

  • The Thomasites
  • International Deaf Children's Society
  • Deaf International Basketball Federation



<references />


Original source

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