Takada (middle) with his Deaf students who are photo club members
Keiichi Takada (60), a hearing mathematics teacher who has led the photograph club in the Tottori Prefecture School for the Deaf for 28 years, will retire in April, 2009. The club has boasted for winning at a national high school photograph contest, etc. many times.
Takada said, "It is important for a person with disability to tell the society or give information to get them understand his issues. I have been able to help my Deaf students to do so".
He edited a members' works collection, titled "Thank You", as a compilation. After his retirement he will visit about 80 former students and take pictures of themselves to show how they are grown up.
The photograph club was formed in 1981 by Takada who liked taking photos as one of his hobbies. He believed, "The club activities help the Deaf students who are withdrawing come out to be able to express their feelings through the photograph".
For more than a decade years mostly the students took pictures of themselves one another as a model. In 1999 when Takada decided to join the national photograph contest for the high school students, he told the Deaf students, "Taking a picture means communication. Let's go out to the town with the camera".
The club members who choose the local performing art as a subject asked for the permission to take pictures by gestures during the local festival. Even the members were friendly enough to teach hearing children sign language then. Ever since a tradition of the club was established that the members ask persons at the first sight for permission before taking pictures in the public.
Many members concentrated on coverage and were awarded with 2nd place in the nationwide high school photograph contest in 2002. The number that won various contests reached 1000 times or more in total.
Shio Nishimura (17), a club leader and a sophomore, who won the grand prize in the high school student session of the Yomiuri Shimbun Photo Contest in 2008, said, "Mr. Takada encouraged me to approach closely to a subject in order to take a good picture. That way gave me confidence. I never thought I would have changed the way. I will tell the younger members like how he encouraged me".
Source in Japanese: