30 Years as Leaders, Advocates, and Trailblazers in Philippine Deaf Education
The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) has been the leading, learner-centered, Philippine Deaf education institution for the last 30 years. In 1991, Benilde SDEAS was established as a Certificate Program in Bookkeeping and Accounting for the Hearing Impaired under the Educational Development Department (EDD) of the De La Salle University. During its first few years, hearing faculty who underwent sign language training facilitated the classes. It was not until 1994 when Deaf para-teachers Blowie Austria and James Andrabado were tapped as partners in the development of a more Deaf-centered program now known as the Bachelor in Applied Deaf Studies (BAPDST). In 2000, what was then known as the School of Special Studies became the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) to signify the central role that the Deaf started taking in designing and implementing the school’s programs, activities, and services. Since then, SDEAS students became more involved in institutional College student activities and were given representation in the Student Council. More Deaf educators joined SDEAS as faculty and administrators.
In 2003, SDEAS partnered with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology (NTID-RIT) to implement PEN International, a worldwide university network funded by the Nippon Foundation of Japan aiming to improve and expand postsecondary education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students around the world by sharing educational technology and conducting faculty development. After this successful collaboration, SDEAS engaged in many other partnerships mainly for the employment and skills development of its deaf and hard-of-hearing students and alumni.
From the mid-2000’s onwards, SDEAS has been vital and visible in advocating for equal access to education, employment, information, justice, religion, health services, and other opportunities. The School has actively collaborated with various organizations in pushing for policies that would benefit the Filipino Deaf community. The implementation of the Filipino Sign Language Law in 2018 compelled SDEAS to share its expertise on Deaf education and to provide more Filipino Sign Language trainings for teachers and other pertinent stakeholders. At present, SDEAS continuously strengthens its research efforts while improving its curricula, programs, and services.