The Futenma Driving School offers the preparatory course in sign language at the Okinawa School for the Deaf in order to help the deaf students acquire a driving license.
A 16-hour preparatory course is provided free of charge besides regular training. Yasuo Tamaki, an instructor from the driving school explains words or terms and the sentence that the deaf students usually get confused in the written examination.
The principal of the Futenma Driving School encouraged, "We want the deaf students to get the driving license and to expand work and the range of the action".
This year is the fourth year and five students are taking a preparatory course. On September 11 when the course started, one of them, a senior in the High School, said that he would study hard as he wanted to do the work related to the car."
The Driving School started to accept the deaf students around in 1984 when they were ready to graduate from the Kitashiro School for the Deaf, the former school of the Okinawa School for the Deaf.
Between 1964 and 1965 many deaf or hard of hearing infants were born due to the rubella across Okinawa, a southern island of Japan. Because of a great number of the deaf children the Kitashiro School for the Deaf was established.
Mr. Tamaki (59) and others instructed the students through written communication at the beginning. Later they learnt sign language and developed a sign language textbook necessary for the training. According to the Driving School, 100 deaf students or more have acquired the driving license until now.
Mr. Tamaki explains that the questions in the written examination usually confuse the deaf students because of the difficulty to understand Japanese, the spoken language. Therefore, a preparatory course has been taught for more detailed guide.
Starting this June, the wide mirror is required during driving a car by the revised Traffic and Road Law. The deaf person can get a driving license regardless of the level of hearing. Previously the deaf person was required to take a hearing test: whether to hear the sound of the horn of 90 decibels ten meters away with the use of the hearing aid."
Mr. Tamaki said that in the past many deaf students failed because of the hearing test. "I wished the law would have been revised earlier. I am willing to continue my help to the deaf students so that they can get a job after school."
Source: Ryukyu Shimpo, Sept, 21, 2008