To promote environmental communication and learning for people who are blind or deaf-blind, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched Tuesday (November 16) an information, education, and communication (IEC) project as a highlight of the annual observance of the Deaf Awareness Week.

Through the DENR's Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS) - Person With Disability Desk (PWDD), the project titled, "Strengthening DENR’s Partnership with the Deaf/Blind Community," aims to enable the visually and hearing impaired, including the blind and deaf-blind, to gain access to essential IEC materials and strengthen capacities as partners in advocating good environmental citizenships.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the initiative highlights DENR’s agenda to build strong frameworks for disability inclusion and advocacy for disability rights in DENR’s programs in building institutional collaborations with the PWD community like in environmental advocacy.

"The DENR believes people with disabilities have and should have all the same access to our communication tools as others," Cimatu said.

The DENR chief cited that the partnership is DENR’s commitment to support broad-based and inclusive approaches to address climate-related threats and push for green recovery under the government's pandemic recovery plans.

The launch was highlighted by the presentation of DENR's IEC materials with sign language interpretations and braille translations, and the pledge of solidarity with the deaf and blind community represented by National Council on Disability Affairs Executive Director Emerito Rojas and Integrated Blind of the Philippines president Gerard Amosco.

SCIS Director Hiro V. Masuda said his push to create disability-inclusive activities such as the production of IEC video and print materials accessible to the deaf and blind “echoes DENR’s putting policy into practice for persons who are most at risk of being left behind due to their vulnerabilities.”

“Moving forward, we will institutionalize this undertaking by increasingly engaging them also in tree growing activities and other advocacy efforts. The launch of the IEC materials is just the first installment of a series of IEC materials that will be published in 2022,” Masuda said, noting that all DENR-SCIS field offices will be tapped for the effort.

The materials, which are considered the first-of-its-kind in DENR’s history, consist of 16 videos with sign language interpretations.

These include materials about the key projects of the DENR, namely Battle for Manila Bay, Manila Bay Accomplishment, Manila Bay Beach Nourishment, and Battle for the Rivers and Esteros.

The DENR also produced videos about the Boracay Island rehabilitation showing activities such as the 25+5 easement, Boracay Centurion, Operation Save Boracay, Old Boracay, and Cimatu’s inspection of the island.

There are also videos about the Tourism Award, Zero Waste Month, Bird TV commercial (TVC), and Corals TVC.

The IEC printed materials translated into braille include, "Huwag Magtapon ng Basura sa Estero: Konting Abala, Laking Ginhawa," a call on proper disposal of waste to prevent clogging of esteros and avoid flooding; "Perwisyong Usok, Pigilan," a reminder on consistently maintain the engines of vehicles and use of clean fuels for clean air; and "Estero Mo, Estero Ko," on the status of esteros as a result of dumping of garbage and pollution from industries.

Others are "Adopt an Estero program” pursuant to the Supreme Court Continuing Mandamus Order to rehabilitate Manila Bay with tips on proper waste management practices such as waste segregation and reuse-recycling; "Right to Clean Air: Step Up, Act Now," a situationer on air pollution and its sources in urban areas particularly in Metro Manila; and "DENR’s s Air quality monitoring efforts," a guide on doable interventions to improve air quality.

The Deaf Awareness Week is observed every year from November 10-16 under Presidential Proclamation No. 829. ###