Dennis Drake and two young instructors with hearing children of deaf parents.

It is said that the family is the basic unit of society. It is where we first feel the sense of belongingness and love. It’s the first place where we learn the importance of acceptance and communication.

But what happens when you belong to a home where one of your parents or even both of them is deaf? Will that mean that you can never experience that moment where you can confide to your father how to court a girl? Or that mother-daughter talks on how to handle the pressures of growing up?

That may not always be the case. Because it is one of IDEA Philippines’ goals to improve family functioning and successful reintegration of the deaf into their families and communities.

Thus last October 28-30, 2010, a group of ten enthusiastic teens, from ages 11 to 19 years old, all with deaf parents, gathered at Dao Diamond Hotel for a 3-day training to enhance their sign language and interpreting skills.

The said activity was organized by IDEA through its social worker Argen Ajos and facilitated by Nueva Niña Nahial and Vera Marie Nahial, IDEA-sponsored students taking up the SPED course, to help these kids communicate more openly with their parents and to serve as interpreters when requested by the other deaf.

It is one of the organization’s plans to establish a group of interpreters who can readily assist the deaf when interacting with the hearing community especially when in the market, hospital, police or when dealing with private or government offices. This will also serve as a source of income for the children since they will be paid if they will serve as an interpreter.

Activities undertaken during the 3-day affair were lessons on sign language and re-enactment of certain scenarios where they applied their knowledge of the sign language and interpreting skills. They also had an exposure tour to hospitals and important government agencies such as the Social Security System (SSS) office, Health Insurance office (Philhealth), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), among others. Before the culmination, an evaluation was conducted among the participants to assess whether they learned from the activity and to identify what areas they need to improve. They also had an open forum where the children shared their experiences of growing up with deaf parents and their realizations. As a conclusion to the memorable experience, the children were treated to a movie at Island City Mall, where they continued their bonding with their new-found friends and shared a few laughs.

With the success of the activity, the organizers are now planning for a possibility of holding similar trainings in the days to come. After all, IDEA believes that: “A family that signs together stays together.”