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Image Description: A woman is signing to a phone camera.
Pamela Molina: Introduction
Transcript: “Hi, my name is Pamela Molina. I am from Chile in South America. I am now in my country, Chile, with Sarah [Houge]. I moved to America 12 years ago. First I came to study in graduate school with a focus on disability rights. Now I work at the Organization of American States (OAS). This means North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean region.
Role in Organization of States (OAS)
“The governments of these countries are members of the OAS. They discuss political and policy issues. They also discuss how to improve policies, programs, and people’s quality of life. My focus is on disability rights, and improving the lives of people with disabilities and also Deaf communities. This is in Latin American countries mostly. I fly around to different countries and provide training. I’m teaching communities about empowerment.
Pamela Molina Sees Change in Chile
“Now I want to tell a bit of a story about the challenge that Deaf people face in my country, Chile. I fly down here sometimes, about once a year. Now I’m here to support the first Deaf women’s school for leadership. Looking back, when I left Chile, there were so many, many challenges. I think the most important challenge we faced when I left, I supported children’s rights, and sign interpreters on television. Many rights, like the right to information and communication access. I was fighting for the right to sign interpreters on television.
“I left [Chile] in 2005. When I came back, I would see small changes in Chile. There was some slow progress forward. I notice that the Deaf community now is strong. They are moving and fighting. They have more awareness about their rights. Before, they had no or little awareness. Now, there has been some improvement. But we still have challenges. We still need more improvement.
Need for Better Law on Sign Language Rights
“For example, one challenge is sign language. We have a law on the importance of Chile Sign Language. But the law is not clear about sign language being the language of the Deaf community, our community. The government has not yet recognized sign language as the language of our Deaf culture.
So right now, Deaf people from different Deaf associations in Chile have gone to Congress, to politicians. They’re talking with them about a new law for true recognition for Chile Sign Language as a natural and cultural language of the community. The language needs to be respected. They are working hard on that.
Need to Improve Deaf Education
“A second challenge is with education. Deaf people and Deaf children are excluded. Deaf children are so far behind in education. Schools exclude them. They don’t go to school. Or they go to mainstream school and don’t learn or don’t understand.
“Everything goes over their heads because the teachers don’t use sign language. Communication is bad. They are so far behind, their education is not equal. So we need to empower the Deaf students by seeing Deaf teachers. The government needs to respect and encourage Deaf teachers to be role models.
“We have some [Deaf teachers] now. This is a big step forward. We have fought for the government to respect Deaf teachers and put them in school as role models.
Need for Sign Language Interpreters
“Another challenge [in Chile] is with sign language interpreters. Deaf people need access to all things. All society and life. I think this is especially important for [Deaf] women. Deaf women need training about Deaf rights and women’s rights together. They need to learn about the CRPD well so we can defend our rights in government and courts. In everything, in hospitals.
Pamela Molina Says: More and More Women Are Strong!
“We are now taking a step forward in training Deaf women. I’m seeing such strong women! Before, we did not see that. But now, I’m seeing that we have more and more women who are strong! I have hopes for the future. We have women who will shake things up in a big way! Deaf Power!”
[Pamela Molina holds one hand to her ear, “Deaf”. With her other hand, she raises a “Power” fist into the air. Then she shakes her hands in deaf applause.]
Pamela Molina moved from Chile to the United States 12 years ago. But she has returned home about once a year since then. And during that time, she has seen change and progress for Deaf people in Chile. She also sees more room for progress moving forward. In particular, she sees hope for Deaf women in Chile. Watch her story to learn from her insights.
Pamela Molina is a Disability Specialist at the Organization of American States (OAS). She recorded this video while she was in Chile with MNI Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Specialist Sarah Houge. Both Pamela Molina and Sarah Houge came to monitor, and assist with, the first leadership school for Deaf women in Chile. The Nellie Zabel Foundation organized the leadership school.
This video is in American Sign Language. A transcript in written English is available.