The Osato Kids Sign Language Circle was born in Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture, the furthest southern island of Japan, last November. Fifteen children, mainly 5th graders, gather in the City Health Welfare Center and happily learn every week. (photo: Ryukyu Shimpo)
Katsumi Kanagi (43), a Deaf woman whose twin hearing sons attend the school, was invited to tell about her upbringing as a part of the welfare study program for the fifth grade class at the Osato North Elementary School last June.
After Katsumi taught how to finger spell in the class, the children became interested and hoped to learn more. The circle was formed with Katsumi as a teacher.
Katsumi values "conversation." "It is more important to learn how to tell in signs and gestures than to finger spell for the spoken words."
She is pleased that the children have tried to tell her about their daily activities such like basketball and baseball in sign language, which never occurred to her before. The twin sons are very glad saying their mother was happy to communicate with their friends.
Some members of the circle seem to be enjoying the circle, saying "It takes a lot of time to talk in sign language," "It is interesting to learn sign language though difficult."
Toyoko Yasutsugu who has been involved in the circle as a volunteer, said "It is a very wonderful activity. It would be great if more hearing students at both the junior high school and the high school learn sign language in the future."
Source: Ryukyu Shimpo, Jan. 5, 2009
Japanese edition and the photo included: