FSL is believed to be part of the French Sign Language family. It has been strongly influenced by American Sign Language since the establishment in 1907 of the School for the Deaf and Blind (SDB) (now the Philippine School for the Deaf) by Delia Delight Rice (1883-1964), an AmericanThomasite teacher born to deaf parents. The school was run and managed by American principals until the 1940s. In the 1960s, contact with American Sign Language continued through the launching of the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation and the Laguna Christian College for the Deaf. Another source of ASL influence was the assignment of volunteers from the United States Peace Corps, who were stationed at various places in the Philippines from 1974 through 1989, as well as religious organizations that promoted ASL and Manually Coded English. Starting in 1982, the International Deaf Education Association (IDEA), led by former Peace Corps volunteer G. Dennis Drake, established a series of residential elementary programs in Bohol using Philippine Sign Language as the primary language of instruction. The Bohol Deaf Academy also primarily emphasizes Philippine Sign Language.
Usage of Filipino Sign Language was reported in 2009 as being used by 54% of sign-language users in the Philippines. In 2011, the Department of Education declared Signing Exact English the language of deaf education in the Philippines. In 2011, Department of Education officials announced in a forum that hearing-impaired children were being taught and would continue to be taught using Signing Exact English (SEE) instead of Filipino Sign Language (FSL). In 2012, House Bill No. 450 was introduced in the Philippine House of Representatives to declare FSL as the National Sign Language of the Philippines and to mandate its use as the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf and the language of instruction of deaf education. As of May 2014[update], that bill was pending with the Committee on Social Services.
^a Sign-language names reflect the region of origin. Natural sign languages are not related to the spoken language used in the same region. For example, French Sign Language originated in France, but is not related to French.