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close this bookPeace Corps in Special Education and Rehabilitation (Peace Corps)
View the documentForeword
View the documentThe authors
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentMethodology
View the documentClassifying Peace Corps programs addressing the needs of disabled persons
close this folderSelected country reviews
View the documentBrazil
View the documentColombia
View the documentCosta Rica
View the documentGhana
View the documentJamaica
View the documentPhilippines
View the documentSeychelles
Open this folder and view contentsCritical factors influencing the effectiveness of Peace Corps' efforts in special education and rehabilitation
View the documentAlternative programming considerations
View the documentReferences
View the documentAppendix I - Country overviews
View the documentAppendix II - Volunteers with disabilities: experiences, issues, and recommendations
View the documentAppendix III - Peace Corps country survey
View the documentAppendix IV - Returned volunteer survey



47.6 million (1979 estimate), 55% of whom are children and youth


Ethnic Groups: 58% Mestizo, 20% Caucasian, 14% Mulatto, 496


Negro and 1% Indian


Population Density: 400.151/square mile; 31.8% urban (1970)


115,707 square miles (7+ islands), slightly larger than Arizona

Urban Centers:

Manila (Capital), Cebu, Davo


Parliamentary Republic; independent since July 4, 1946; constitution adopted in 1973




The Philippines is classified as a "lower-middle income" country with a per capita GNP of $342.


40% of children attend school


Tagalog, English, Cebuano, Illocano


72 (1977); The 1970 PQLI for males was 71, compared to 74 for females.


Life Expectancy (1975): 56.9 male; 60.0 female


Infant Mortality (1975): 47.6/1000


Literacy Rate (1977): 85%


Disability in the Philippines:

There are approximately 4 million disabled persons in the Philippines including between 100,000-250,000 deaf children and 60,000 persons with cerebral palsy.

Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Persons: In 1974, a group of parents and educators of the deaf formed the Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf, Inc. (SAID) to provide education for deaf persons and establish a model school introducing the total communication method. (Deaf education in the Philippines has traditionally used oral methods of communication rather than signing.) The Institute has been staffed heavily by Peace Corps Volunteers.

Approximately 10% of all deaf children receive an opportunity for education in the Philippines.

Physical Disability: There are approximately 60,000 victims of cerebral palsy in the Philippines. Only 1096 of this number are accommodated by the Elks Project, which constitutes the sole effort to directly address the rehabilitation of patients with cerebral palsy.

Visually-Impaired Persons: There are approximately 1 million visually-impaired Filipinos, the majority of whom are unemployed and unproductive. There is a 2.13% rate of blindness, 50% of which is considered preventable, 40% remedial. Causes of visual impairment are usually associated with poor eye health habits, delayed consultation and self-medication. A mass education campaign in the Manila area has been aimed toward prevention.

Institutional Infrastructure:

A wide network of special education and rehabilitation schools and facilities exists in the Philippines, concentrated primarily in Manila.

The Ministry of Social Services and Development, Bureau of Child and Youth Welfare, is largely responsible for services to disabled persons. The Bureau operates a residential and day school for mentally retarded children (the Elsie Gaches Village in Rizal), and the Reception and Study Center for children and youth in Quezon City. The Elsie Gaches residential village for children and adolescents conducts training and rehabilitation for severely and profoundly retarded children between the ages of 4-21. The program includes sheltered workshops for residents and non-residents.

Other major facilities serving handicapped persons include the following:

• The Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Retarded, a church sponsored organization founded in 1973, works with severely retarded persons (Manila).

• The Elks Cerebral Palsy Clinic (Rizal) attends to physically handicapped and retarded children.

• The Bureau of Public Schools offers special education classes to educable retarded children. In 1973, 150 such classes were attached to the regular school system. Among other services, the Bureau offers scholarships to the University of the Philippines' College of Education, Department of Special Education, for training in special education. Two programs are offered: a one-year certificate of proficiency in teaching the mildly retarded and a Master's level certificate. Both programs include a survey of all disability groups and include practical classroom work. Short-term programs are available for teachers without a bachelor's degree.

• Six special schools for severely retarded children, as well as blind and hearing-impaired children, are run by voluntary agencies (Manila).

• VIDERE (Latin "to see"), a non-profit agency for the welfare of blind persons, provides services for the blind.

There is a crucial need for trained and competent special education and rehabilitation personnel in the Philippines. The expansion of clinical training at the University of the Philippines School of Allied Medical Professions (UPSAMP) is one means of providing such personnel. There are only 200 registered physical therapists in the country and only eight facilities where physical therapy is practiced. Of the 148 hospitals in the Philippines, only 28 have physical therapy departments.

The needs of disabled persons are most acute in rural areas. The Mt. Province Paraplegic Association is based in a fairly remote mountainous region on Philippines' main island. One half of the clients at the Association are victims of polio. Other disabilities include lost limbs from mine accidents, deafness, mentally retardation, blindness and visual impairments. The Association requests the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers, particularly physical and occupational therapists. The Association also seeks assistance from the Peace Corps Partnership Program in building a workshop, clinic and office area. The Association would normally be interested in the recruitment of disabled volunteers but believes that the difficulties of living in the mountains would be too much of a hardship.


Special education/rehabilitation projects in the Philippines fall into three project categories: Education of Blind Persons, Rehabilitation, and Education of Deaf Persons.

Education of Blind Persons

• Volunteers in this project work as program advisors at the VIDERE Institute for the Blind, planning activities which will enhance the public and private image of blind persons and promote job opportunities. There were five volunteers involved in this project in 1979.

Volunteers in this project are required to have a B.S. in special education and experience in vision screening.


• Volunteers work for the Mt. Province Paraplegic Association as program advisors, conducting needs assessment studies and promoting public awareness of issues relating to disability.

• Volunteers also work at the Elks Cerebral Palsy Project, assisting staff in the evaluation of patients, home training for parent and community groups, and clinical and in-service training for staff. Other volunteers work to improve rehabilitation techniques at the Center, expanding services to cerebral palsied children. Volunteers have provided physical therapy using shelps and bobath techniques. Volunteers have also worked through the occupational therapy department at the Elks Center, evaluating and researching the causes of speech defects in children with cerebral palsy.

• Other rehabilitation volunteers have worked at the University of the Philippines School of Allied Medical Professions (UPSAMP) to provide training and generate interest in rehabilitation services in physical therapy. Deaf Education Project

The Peace Corps has been working in the field of deaf education in the Philippines since 1974, concentrating its efforts in the urban area of Manila, through the Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf (SAID). Early volunteers introduced the total communication approach to pre-school and elementary school-aged deaf children. Specific accomplishments of their work include classroom expansion (from one pre-schools class to grade IV); teacher training and parent orientation; and publication of the first signed English dictionary in the Philippines, co-authored by Peace Corps and SAID.

While deaf volunteers have been active in the project, they have come to the Philippines in isolated, small groups without any special pre-service or in-service training. Typically, they would receive training from the school they were assigned to, in addition to Peace Corps' training for all trainees. This situation created serious communication gaps between the deaf volunteers and the Peace Corps main office, host country nationals and other volunteers. However, the volunteers proved to be effective teachers and excellent role models for deaf persons in the Philippines and the Peace Corps was intrigued with ways to improve the program.

In June of 1980, the deaf education project launched an effort which has utilized a unique approach to recruitment, training and service delivery with a group of deaf and hearing impaired volunteers. This effort represents a pioneer approach to expanding the range of techniques to include "total communication," using both oral and manual methods.

The notion of using specially trained deaf and hearing-impaired volunteers assigned to the rural areas of the Philippines came originally from Ms. Frances Parsons of Gallaudet College and Mike Dix, program manager in the Philippines. Velma Linford, a former Washington staff member in the Office of Recruitment, and Bob Wilson, a former Desk Officer for the Philippines, also provided significant input in the development of this project.

Recruitment: Special recruitment for this project was handled through Gallaudet College, the only liberal arts college in the world for deaf students.

Materials developed specifically for the project included recruitment posters, a 30 minute spot on Gallaudet College television and the dissemination of news releases to various publications circulated in the deaf community. Persons in daily contact with the deaf applicants (school staff) were a vital part of the selection of trainees. Applications were reviewed on an individual basis with an emphasis on general skills. A mix of hearing and deaf trainees was accepted (ten deaf and five hearing).

Pre-service: Pre-service activities taking place in the United States included: sending information on the Philippines and deafness to trainees; an eight-week pre-service orientation and training conducted at Gallaudet College; and staging on the West Coast prior to departure. The eight-week training session involved workshop activities and conferences which highlighted such issues as "Attitudes, Communication and Leadership" and "How to Assess Needs in the Deaf Community".

Training: Four weeks of in-country training was provided for the deaf services volunteers. An interesting dynamic of the training session was the emergence of three factions: those persons who were deaf from birth, those who lost their hearing in childhood, and the hearing. Such divisions appeared to determine social relationships in the training session.

When the volunteers arrived in the Philippines, they conducted workshops to communicate difficulties they had encountered in training. They also began teaching sign to volunteers and staff.

These volunteers have been at their sites since November of 1980. Some of their planned responsibilities include: the design and dissemination of surveys, promotion of community awareness of deafness, organization of parent groups, and initiation of income-generating activities for deaf persons. As the Philippines does not presently have sufficient resources to train teachers of the deaf, volunteer activity in this field is particularly important.

To date, there have been two terminations of deaf services volunteers, both for medical reasons unrelated to their deafness.

Peace Corps/Philippines staff envision deaf volunteers working in the future in a variety of programs including health, agriculture and nutrition along with hearing volunteers and Filipino counterparts.


The reviewers believe that Peace Corps' work with disabled persons in the Philippines has been largely successful. The deaf education project is a remarkable experiment in international technical assistance, however it still faces substantial hurdles to expanding total communication methods in place of the oral communication methods traditionally used in deaf education.

Staff persons are currently reviewing the training component of this initial effort to identify and improve any of the weaknesses of the first effort.

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