First Deaf climber ever reaching the highest peak in Antarctica

Photo: Yasuyuki Okubo standing at the top of Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica.(DEAF-UNION)

Yasuyuki Okubo, a Deaf man living in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, succeeded in reaching the top of Vinson Massive (4987 meters), the highest peak of Antarctica at 16:00, January 2, 2009 at local time, the first achievement ever as a Deaf climber in the the world.


Okubo said in his e-mail.
"I have suffered from bad weather everyday. But after having getting it over, I finally made it. Thank you for rooting, support and cooperation."

Source: The Deaf and Hard of Hearing NEWS (subscription)

For Okubo's background and his plan for this adventure, see the following blog:

Deaf surfers plan to hold 30th anniversary party in Yokohama

The Japan Deaf Surfing Association (JDSA) is celebrating the 30th anniversary since it was established (photo from the JDSA blog).

The 30th anniversary party will take place at the Yokohama Excel Hotel Tokyu near Yokohama Station on March 7, Saturday, 2009, 18:30-21:00.

The Association is managed by the Deaf men and women, who love the sea with a strong interest in surfing.

It has organized the World Deaf Surfing Championships for the first time in Miyazaki Prefecture, southern part of Japan, in September, 2007.

Japanese website:

Dormitories for Deaf children to be closed because of better transportation services, etc.

The dormitories established in the special support schools in Tokyo such as schools for the deaf and schools for handicapped children are gradually going to be closed.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to decrease "the number of nine dormitories to five by the end of 2015 fiscal year as the number of children who have a difficulty in going to school has decreased because of the development of transportation services".

The parents have request the continuing of dormitories, saying that "We want to keep the dormitory as a place for the growth of our child".

At 7:00pm, an energetic voice stating, "Thank you for providing us with the food," sounded in the dining room in the dormitory at the Tachikawa School for the Deaf in Tachikawa City, Tokyo. They, sitting opposite one another at the long table, reach supper. The supervising instructor called a boy who was eating in a hurry to eat slowly.

About 15 students both in the Junior High School and High School Departments have applied for the current academic year, and lived in the dormitory since then. They go home to spend the weekend with the family. The time for getting up, taking a bath, and study together is settled; The person on duty sets up a table for breakfast and supper. There are special events such as the Star Festival, the Doll Festival, too.

A certain supervising instructor saying about the children's growth, "By living with the peers in the dormitory, a lot of children acquire the life skills and communications." However, this dormitory has been decided to be closed in the end of next academic year.

Originally the dormitory was set up for those children who lived too far to attend the school. Also the request of parents who expected their children grow through a group living, one from the family getting public assistance due to the home circumstances were accepted.

However, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has made the "Tokyo Capital special support education promotion plan" in November, 2004. The officials cite the reason as the difficulty of going to school were solved because of the school bus and the development of transport links, and a lot of dormitories are occupied with less children as the capacity. The policy of closing several dormitories was come up with.

The parents and some supervising instructors repulsed as "deprived of the place of the growth of a child", and submitted about 13,500 signature to review the plan to the metropolitan assembly in December, 2008. It is scheduled to continue the signature activity, and to submit it to the metropolitan assembly again in the end of January.

Source: Sankei Shimbun, Jan. 8, 2009
Japanese edition:

JSL course offered at hearing universities to deepen understanding of Deaf culture

There is a university that offer a course on the Japanese Sign Language that the Deaf person naturally acquires in the childhood, as one of the language studies like German and French, etc.

The Human Welfare Department of Kansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture started a JSL course in April. The Department had been newly establishedm, which plans to teach JSL for two years as the second language, aiming at expanding the student's view of welfare.

Kazumi Maekawa (33), a part-time instructor, turned off the light in the classroom once and turned it on again to get attention. It is a signal that the Deaf use. The students stopped signing and turned to the front.

The class is done only by JSL. Each students explains the travel planning that was decided after discussion in the group. A freshman (19) said, "The meaning changes into the movement of the same hand by the expression. It is a discovery in the difference from spoken Japanese."

About 90 students applied for the JSL class for the first year. Maekawa, the member of a Deaf family, is taking charge of lingual practice. Eiji Taira (32), a certified interpreter, is taking charge of the lecture on Deaf culture. He said, "When you call a Deaf person, you hit the desk or the floor, which is not considered as the impoliteness."

Associate professor Hisashi Matsuoka (45) in charge of the school affairs, who proposed to offer the JSL course, explains, "We hope the students learn a variety of culture through the language and Deaf culture that affect the Deaf community."

Maekawa says, "Sign language had seemed to be a substitution for spoken Japanese. I want to see many hearing youth understand the Deaf culture and work with the Deaf community in the field of welfare."

JSL has been taken as a language study since ten years ago at Shikoku Gakuin University in Kagawa Prefecture. The Japanese University of Social Work in Tokyo has also offered a JSL course at current academic year.

Yasuhiro Ichida, a professor in the sign language department of the National Rehabilitation Center for Handicapped Persons in Saitama Prefecture, highly evaluates the trend, saying "The number of Deaf persons whose natural language is JSL is estimated to be 5o,000 or 60,000. It is a good movement that JSL is not considered as part of welfare, but as an equal language, which should be welcomed."

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 5, 2009
Japanese edition:

Sign language circle for hearing kids formed in Okinawa Prefecture

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:

Deaf group plans to hold seminar on JSL in March

Located in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, a northern part of Japan, a Deaf group called "JSL From Heart in Miyagi" is working on the spread of JSL that has its own grammar different from spoken Japanese.

This group aims at the training of JSL teachers through researching the guidance method and systematizing the use of JSL. They are preparing for a seminar in Sendai in March.

The "JSL From Heart" was established last August with its leader, Yutaka Kudo (46), a sign language lecturer. (photo above: Kahoku Shinpo) About 20 Members plan and manage lecture meetings and JSL classes in order that understanding to JSL is deepened.

Children who lost hearing before they learn Japanese use JSL daily. JSL was difficult for Kudo, who was deafened later, to learn, but he says he was surprised at the effectiveness that JSL shows. "If JSL were to spread, the intention is conveyed correctly and smoothly, and the social participation of the Deaf might advance."

Though there are a few Deaf persons teach JSL as an occupation at enterprises and hearing schools. As a current state in the Tohoku region including Miyagi Prefecture, only a small number of volunteers are relied. The "From Heart" have abandoned holding of the JSL classes due to lack of the lecturers or the interpreters.

Kudo hopes, "We want to make people aware of JSL widely through the seminar, and to offer the appropriately learning environment for a lot of people."

Source: Kahoku Shimpo, Jan. 2, 2009
Japanese edition and the photo included:

Deaf drum group performs in Shinto shrine for New Year

Before dawn on January 1, a Japanese Deaf drum group, called "Koryukai," dedicated the drum performance in Mishima Shrine in Shikoku Chuo City, Ehime Prefecture. (photo: Ehime Shimbun)

"Koryukai" is the only Japanese Deaf drum group in Shikoku Island, formed in 1987.

Yasufumi Ishikawa (55), one of the group members, had seen the performance of the local drum preservation group in the Shinto shrine. The vibration of the drum that sounded in the body was like a clock when he lived in the dormitory of the school for the deaf.

He thought even if it would not possible for the Deaf to hear the sound, they could perform the drum, and called his friends to form the drum group.

Source Ehime Shimbun, Jan. 1, 2009
Japanese edition and the photo included: