Taguig City personnel learn to ‘talk with hands’
Over 1K employees to undergo sign language seminars for better, inclusive service
The local government of Taguig has started sign language seminars to all its employees, in what could be a first for any local government unit in the Philippines.
With the “Talk with Your Hands: Basic Sign Language” seminars, the local government aims to equip all its employees with the ability to interact with the hard-hearing population and also to empathize with them, noted Jeanette Clemente, City Personnel Officer, the originator of the breakthrough program.
“Communication plays a vital role in both our daily transactions at the City Hall and our daily lives, so we want to address our inabilities as people without disabilities that have excluded those with abilities different than ours,” she noted.
The program is close to Clemente’s heart as she herself and other city employees saw the need from their own inability to communicate. In an effort to employ persons with disability, the local government hired 22 deaf-mute individuals as encoders at Taguig City Integrated Survey System (TCISS). Without any prior education in sign language, other employees could only communicate through random hand gestures.
The program, led by the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), is anticipated to positively impact not only internal affairs but also “the PWD among the public, taxpayers, constituents that come to the city government, transacting with us,” Clemente said. That being a clear goal, the scope of the seminars grew from the initial frontline employees and other City Hall personnel.
“Inclusiveness has been of utmost importance to the probinsyudad, so we gave this a go-signal,” noted Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano. “I am in full support of this, as of any other program that would capacitate our people with skills to reach out to vulnerable sectors. I look forward to this program’s impact on the quality of service at the city hall.”
The inaugural session of the “Talk with Your Hands: Basic Sign Language” series started last September 17. Since then, HRMO has conducted the seminar to more than 700 employees of the City Hall. The last session for the year will be on December 20.
The series has 35 sessions, each one training 30 personnel at a time. Noenah S. Salvador, a sign language teacher certified by the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and a new addition to the City Hall family, teaches in the said sessions.
Participants learn the situation of the deaf-mute community through the class. They are taught fingerspelling, name introduction and sign names, among others. Each session concludes with an evaluation conducted by Taguig’s deaf-mute employees themselves.
“This wouldn’t stand out as a big need if we just looked at the population of the deaf-mute; but whether the population is big or small, they are part of our city,” Clemente said. “It’s important to understand their culture and experiences so they aren’t treated as outcasts and discriminated against.”
Mayor Lani agreed: “We all deserve to live in a probinsyudad that respects us – and our PWD citizens have special needs we must address and abilities we must provide opportunities for.”
“We must value the smallest populations of Taguig because they are very much part of our diversity and they also contribute to the beauty of our city,” she added. “No one should be left behind, and this seminar affirms just that meaningful principle.”
The program adds to several others already up and running through Taguig HRMO. New employees go through the New Employees Orientation Session (NEOS), mandated by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). The office also conducts the annual Office Performance and Mid-Year Assessment Evaluation (OP-MAE) and Orientation Session on Gender Harassment and 2017 Revised Rules in Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (R.R.A.C.C.S.).
In coordination with the Taguig City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, HRMO will soon implement the second module of their Basic Life Support sessions. ###