Okinawa women volleyball team wins the regional championship

May 24, 2011

The National Sports Meet Deaf Volleyball Game Kyushu Regional Preliminary Competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, etc., was held in Miyazaki Prefecture on May 21. Six teams competed in the tournament.

The Okinawa women volleyball team accomplished the 12th straight victory. They vowed for the first national conquest, "To win the national championship, we will challenge with a strong determination."

The nine teammates are aged from 17 to 42; the places of residence and the occupations are also different. They have worked hard at the practice once a week.

Team leader INAMI Kotono (25) said, "We had a powerful Fukuoka team for the first match, feeling a bit anxious, but our team spirits were so good that our serves went excellent." Coach SHIMAJIRI Hirotoshi spoke, "I will instruct the team how to develop better combination in the court in preparation for the National Sports Meet in Yamaguchi Prefecture in October, 2011."

Kyoto sends interpreters to Fukushima Prefecture

May 26, 2011

The Kyoto Prefecture administration, upon the request of Fukushima Prefecture, sent two prefecture staff who have interpreting skill to Iwaki City in the prefecture on May 26 for one week.

Among the prefectures affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, about 40 interpreters are dispatched to Miyagi Prefecture from across Japan. It was the first time to send the interpreters to Fukushima Prefecture.

Iwaki City is the largest city in Fukushima Prefecture and is located near the Nuclear Power Plant. There are two interpreters, who have had a hard time to meet the needs of about 30 Deaf victims.

The interpreters from Kyoto help the procedure in the city office, visit home, help the victims to get what they need for living, etc.

Public TV broadcasting station introduces the latest techniques

One of the presented system that generates into sign language in CG

May 26, 2011

The "Technique Laboratory Exhibit 2011" is being held in Tokyo on May 26-29. The organizer NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai: Japanese Broadcasting Station) Science and Technical Research Laboratories presents its latest research developments to the public every year.

At the 65th exhibit with "Digital Broadcasting for Your Future" as the theme, research results of 36 items are demonstrated, such as the equipments including a super-high vision, a soft television display, stereoscopic television without the use of special glasses.

Moreover, the exhibit introduces how the broadcast techniques develop a system friendly to the consumers, and how these serve at the time of the emergency disasters such as the Great East Japan earthquakes. One of the techniques is applied to a system that Japanese sentences are input by using the example are converted into sign language to generate CG automatically.

English article:


Deaf student wins excellent prize in cable television contest in Kyushu

Participants communicate with one another in sign language while scuba diving (a scene of Nakamura's work with caption) .

Nakamura Chika

May 26, 2011

One of the Ishigaki Cable TV Program titled "Let's Overcome The Gap!" which was produced by NAKAMURA Chika, a Deaf Okinawa University senior and others won an excellent prize at the "Cable TV Kyushu Program Contest 2011" sponsored by the Japanese Cable TV Federation Kyushu Branch.

There was an award ceremony in Fukuoka Prefecture on May 24. Nakamura was pleased, saying "I never expected that my work would be chosen because I am Deaf and a student."

The organizer said that it was unusual that a student's work would win in the contest for the professionals.

Nakamura's work is a documentary film with the theme related to the diversity of communications. She produced it while she was on the job at the Ishigaki Cable TV station in the summer of 2010.

She tried to convey the importance of various communications in different places such as meetings of the Deaf and hearing persons, chatting while scuba diving, etc. The film is captioned.

Nakamura said, "I was able to touch nature and the culture in Ishigaki, Okinawa through working on the film. I want to find employment in the media in the future and to spread information on the Deaf/hard of hearing."

Defense counsel appeals "imprisonment delay" for Deaf defendant at trial

May 24, 2011

A 63-year-old man invaded the apartment in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture and stole the cash 30,000 yen in September, 2010. He was prosecuted in March, 2011. The first trial was held at the Fukuoka district court on May 23.

The defendant, Deaf since birth, was convicted, repeated a similar crime 19 times in the past and was imprisoned for 20 years or more. It turned out that he had a slight intellectual disability by the crime investigation.

At the first trial which interpreting was provided, the defendant admitted the prosecution, but there was a scene that he sometimes repeated what was interpreted, unable to answer the question, so the trial did not advanced smoothly.

The prosecutor demands the penal servitude for two years as "there are a lot of previous offenses even if the disability is considered."

The defense counsel insisted, "the defendant has been in the gap between justice administration and welfare. It is necessary to examine the optimal way for him to live in the society." He concluded with the decision for sentence of suspension.

The final decision is expected to be given on June 13.

Puppet theater company performs in Ehima Prefecture


May 23, 2011

The theatrical company called "The Deaf Puppet Theater Hitomi" (located in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture) performed the puppet show in Ehime Prefecture on May 22. Over 400 people and families, etc. enjoyed the world of a mysterious play.

The company, formed in the International Year of Disabled Persons, 1980, does not rely on the spoken language and often uses a musical instrument during the performance.

The play was performed by the six members including three Deaf ones who used a lot of mime, gestures and a screen. It was a premiere showing in Ehime Prefecture though the company has performed inside and outside the country.

The play was a commemoration work for the company's 30th anniversary establishment, titled "The Ear, Night, and Travel to Outskirts," a tale of adventure that a man goes out to the "Town of the Deaf" to meet his dead friend, based on the legend of Africa.

Sign Language Teaching Research Conference to be held at Tokyo in July

The Nonprofit Activities Organization Sign Language Teacher Center, Inc. will hold the 11th Japanese Sign Language Teaching Research Conference at Tokyo on Saturday, July 2, 2011, 10:00-16:30.

The conference program will include reports on practices and results of sign language teaching, presentations, and discussion.

Registration fee:
Member/supporter: 2,000 yen
General: 4,000 yen
Student: 2,000 yen
Pre-registration is requested.

The official language in the conference is Japanese Sign Language.
No interpreting will be provided.

Tentative Program:
Keynote address
"How to advance sign language research - collaboration of sign language teaching and sign linguistics"

The speaker will be Mr. SUEMORI Akio, vice-president of the Japanese Association of Sign Linguistics. He is currently engaged in molecular evolution engineering in the Independent Administrative Agency National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (former Ministry of International Trade and Industry Biotechnology Technical Research Institute). He has taken up the sign linguistics since December, 2009.

Presentations by six persons to be announced later.

After the conference ends, there will be the get-together party.

Deaf Rugby training camp to be held in June

May 23, 2011

The Pacific championship that had been scheduled in Fiji this summer was postponed due the aftermath of the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.

The Australian Deaf Rugby team will visit Japan in the beginning of November, 2011.

For this, the Japanese Deaf Rugby League will hold an intensive training camp at the Toyota Motor ground at Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture on June 11-12, 2011.

- June 11 (Saturday)
Meet at the ground.
Practice in the afternoon.

- June 12 (Sunday)
Practice in the morning through afternoon until around 16:00.

Pre-registration is requested.
Visitors and reporters are welcome.

Deaf painter exhibits oil paintings in Hokkaido

Kinoshita works on his masterpiece of the Uryu marshland.

May 18, 2011

The oil paintings by a former company worker KINOSHITA Shuji (67) is exhibited at Takikawa City, Hokkaido on May 16-30.

He who has painted for about 40 years shows 20 landscape masterpieces out of his works of flowers that blooms in the plateau, the stream running through the marshland, etc.

Kinoshita, who graduated from Asahikawa School for the Deaf at Asahikawa City in Hokkaido, worked for transportation business, etc. in Osaka and Tokyo, taking up painting in the middle in his twenties.

When he had a time, he attended the school of fine arts, and often visited the museum. He returned home to Hokkaido in 1977 as he wanted to draw the mountains which he has loved for a long time. He kept drawing about seven or eight paintings a year while working until he retired in the summer of 2008.

He takes the photographs of objects several times a month before painting, which is used as a basis for his painting. Wife Fumiko (61) pleasantly says, "He has been progressing little by little ever since we had met first 30 years ago."

Hearing girl plays the role of a Deaf girl in the movie

Oba Haruka acts as a Deaf girl.

Oba (left) and Director Nishikawa Fumie show the poster in the stage.

May 18, 2011

The movie titled "Jump on the footpath!" is about a Deaf junior high school student.

The preview of the movie, which was filmed in Niigata Prefecture, took place at Niigata City on May 10. OBA Haruka and director NISHIKAWA Fumie gave a speech in the stage after the screening.

The filming of "Jump on the footpath!" has spent three years. At that time, Oba was in the third grade of junior high-school. She said, "I participated in the dance and performance workshops for four months without understanding anything. I remember I had a hard time then. I worked out on the lesson by man-to-man with the director, so I believe we made a good movie."

Nishikawa has worked on the film project for four years, having three years until the opening to the public."This movie is like my child I have long cared for. I hope it will succeed."

The movie will be shown with caption on June 11 at Niigata City's theaters and later across the country.

English article: Sign language news for disaster victims on line

Sign language news for disaster victims on line

A Web site featuring sign language news related to the Great East Japan Earthquake has been launched for hearing-impaired disaster victims to provide them with information necessary to function after the disaster.

Satoshi Ezoe, 24, of Chofu, Tokyo, who has experience providing sign language news on NHK, received a text message from a hearing-impaired friend after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The friend, who was affected by the disaster, said in the message, "I have no information. I don't know what's happening unless I connect to the Internet."

Ezoe later heard of a case in which a hearing-impaired evacuee did not know how to receive meals at an evacuation center because announcements were broadcast only on the public address system.

Another evacuee was unable to locate the bathroom in their shelter. During power outages, hearing-impaired people's written messages could not be read by others, severely limiting communication.

Ezoe realized the necessity to reduce the gap between hearing and hearing-impaired people. Three days after the disaster, Ezoe started providing disaster-related information about the restoration of electricity and gas, water supplies and the latest news using sign language on his Web site.

The Web site, named "Deaf News Network" (DNN), was made by Ezoe and about 30 others, including a friend living in Australia and some hearing-impaired associates.

Ezoe has uploaded more than 640 video messages onto his Web site and YouTube. So far, the videos have received more than 280,000 hits.

Recently, Ezoe has started providing information on how to fill out an application form to receive a disaster victim certificate and how to apply for temporary housing.

(May. 20, 2011)

English Source:

Deaf jealous father abuses his baby son to death

Suspect Abe Hiroyuki is sent to the prosecutors office on suspicion of injury to eldest son.

May 17 2011

Three-month-old ABE Hayate died in Osaka City in January, 2011, the Deaf parents were arrested on the suspicion of abuse.

Suspected father Hiroyuki (21) e-mailed his wife Chiyomi (34) that he was not satisfied with her as she cared for the baby too much. According to the police investigation on May 17, he was angry that she has been busy with the baby and didn't come up to the video chat with him, etc.

The couple married in the spring, 2010, and Hayate was born on October 4 in the same year according to the investigation officials.

The cruelty was started as suspect Hiroyuki got angry immediately after Hayate was born as Chiyomi paid more attention to him than her husband. Also, it is suspected that she did nothing to do to protect the baby.

Related link:

Saga Prefecture Education Board promotes learning support for Deaf children with iPad

May 14, 2011

The Saga Prefecture Education Board will work on the practice research that uses multifunctional portable terminal "iPad" for the learning support for the children with disabilities in cooperation with The University of Tokyo Advanced Science and Technology Research Center.

They will exchange the agreement statement on the joint research project in the Prefecture Government Office on May 18, and research for one year in relation to the improvement of learning and communications.

The center and Softbank, one of the mobile communications companies, has worked on the learning support system for the children with disabilities in five prefectures since fiscal year 2009, using the cellular phone. The next project will be expanded based on the previous one, in which 34 schools will participate from 18 prefectures including Tokyo and Saga.

The project will be concluded in a form of a case collection to help educational institutions, etc. get aware of the effect of the information terminal use. The use of iPad will be expected to promote the Deaf children's social participation, even if they are not fluent in sign language.

Prefecture Office on Promotion Information officials speak, "If effectiveness can be found, We want to consider the introduction as a learning support tool."

Deaf parents arrested on the suspicion of their baby boy's death in Osaka

May 15, 2011

The Osaka Prefectural Police Investigation Division arrested a Deaf couple on the suspicion of injury on their baby on May 15.

According to the Police, ABE Hiroyuki (21), self-styled company employee, and his wife and vocational training school student Chiyomi (34) are suspected for severely injuring the eldest son Hayate who was three months old. The couple are Deaf and live with the baby, Hiroyuki's younger sister and her friend in Osaka City.

The Deaf parents are suspected of the assault at home, etc. between October and December 2010 to the baby boy Hayate, and owing severely injuring of the hematoma under an acute dura mater and the fractures, etc.

The baby died in the hospital in January, 2011. Informed by the doctor, the police are investigating the death thinking that there was a regular abuse.

Suspect Abe told the police that his son's injury was that his leg was stepped by other children," etc. Suspect Chiyomi also has denied the charges.

National DeafBlind Conference scheduled in Shizuoka Prefecture canceled due to the disaster


The organizing committee released the announcement the the 21st National DeafBlind Conference" scheduled on August 26-29, 2011 in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture was canceled due to the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The preparation has been advanced with the cooperation from the Shizuoka Prefecture DeafBlind Organization and their supporters since six months ago.

The recent earthquake was the main reason for the cancellation; lack of funding to hold the conference, the great deal of damage in the whole country, the electric blackout in the Kanto Region including Tokyo, the possible disorder in the public transportation facilities, and the feelings of people affected, etc.

Then National DeafBlind Conference has been held every year since 1991, and the cancellation of the conference was the first time this year.

Also the 10th Helen Keller World Conferece and the World Federation for the DeafBlind Assembly scheduled in Japan this year will not be held for the same reason stated above.

Signature activity on information accessibility for the Deaf in Fukuoka Prefecture


May 15, 2011

About 100 concerned persons of the Fukuoka City Welfare Society for the Deaf collected the signatures near Hakata Station, etc. on May 14 in order to request the development of legal systems that protect the Deaf right to receive information in various scenes of the social life including the disaster, etc.

In the Great East Japan Earthquake, neither the disaster prevention wireless nor radio on shelter information failed the Deaf community, causing the problem that many were too late to escape from the devastating tsunami. A source from Miyagi Prefecture states that at least 14 Deaf persons have died there.

NAKAMURA Shinsaku (63), board director of the Society says, "This is a serious problem that affects our life. We want the Government to establish the legal system at once."

Collected signatures will be submitted to the Diet through the Japanese Federation of the Deaf.

Deaf woman opens a shop in Mie Prefecture

May 13, 2011

A Deaf woman Mieko YAMANAKA (63) manages the thrift shop and the sign language class on the main street of Abo in Iga City, Mie Prefecture. She said, "I want to make this shop as a place for anyone to gather regardless of signing ability or disability."

Yamanaka who became deaf due to high fever at the age of one, completed the sewing course at the school for the Deaf in Osaka at the age of 20, and worked for a company for a year. Later she help housework, so there were not so many chances to mingle with a lot of people.

Yamanaka moved to Abo and thought she wanted to do something in 1998. She opened the first shop near the present place in October, 2004. However, she moved to Kashiwara City three years ago, and the opening day decreased to a day from four days a week, and the shop was located in an unremarkable place. So she decided to move the shop to the main street. She commutes by train from Kashiwara City.

The shop opens 10:00-18:00 every Tuesday; the plates, clothes, miscellaneous goods, etc. are on sale. Moreover, Yamanaka teaches the sign language class on individual basis (150 yen for about one hour) in the shop.

Earthquake evacuation measures for the Deaf community delayed in Kochi Prefecture

May 12, 2011

Uneasiness has extended among the Deaf community in the Kochi Prefecture though two months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, because evacuation measures for the Deaf residents are late; the emergency information transmission system is not in order.

YAMANAKA Mutsuko, president of the Kochi Prefecture Association of the Deaf, explains, "the Deaf cannot run away because they are unaware of the public evacuation alarm." She appeals, "The prefecture authorities should make an information transmission means for the Deaf as soon as possible."

There were a few Deaf persons unaware of the public emergency information that changed from the tsunami alert to warning at once after the great earthquake occurred on March 11, being taken by neighbors to take shelter, according to the Association, etc.

Prefecture Office Disability Health Welfare Section officials said that nothing has been made since 2008 when they had begun to work on the evacuation means for the people with disabilities including the Deaf in preparing for the Nankai Earthquake that is expected in the future.

They said, "The support system through cooperation with the Association will be strengthened immediately in the future, along with the finding of the situation of the interpreters and the note takers who are certified."

There is a way to inform the Deaf person not only in sign language but also by writing or verbal communication, which the society doesn't fully acknowledge. And the situation in a time of the earthquake is confused, it will be more difficult for the Deaf residents to deal with it. YAMANAKA points out, "While taking shelter, the Deaf need the visual information dissemination."

On the other hand, as a result of the recent Earthquake, the Prefectural Kochi School for the Deaf will produce the "Help Card" that explains about the carrier being deaf and his necessary communications means, etc. and distribute it to 31 students.

CS broadcasting system to pass on emergency information for the Deaf set up in Hiroshima Prefecture

The receiver of the communication satellite broadcasting was set up in the Higashi-hiroshima City Office lobby.

May 13, 2011

Higashi-hiroshima City in Hiroshima Prefecture set up the receiver of the communication satellite broadcasting program to pass on disaster information with sign language and caption for the Deaf residents in 18 places in the city.

The system passes on information on the damage situation, the distribution of the rescue supply place etc. in a time of disaster.

The number of facilities set up in the city is the largest among the local governments throughout the country according to Nonprofit Activities Organization CS Disability Broadcasting Union System located in Osaka City that produces the program.

The receiver is connected to the television, Deaf viewers can watch the program that passes on emergency information in a time of disaster with Japanese sign language and caption.

Messages sent to encourage Deaf students in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures

May 12,2011

The children and students at the Nogata School for the Deaf in Fukuoka Prefecture in the southern island sent the messages together in the thick paper to both the schools for the Deaf in Koriyama City, Fukushima and in Sendai City, Miyagi on May 9. They wanted to encourage the Deaf students affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The messages were written as follows: "I am worried very much for you. We are thinking of you forever." "How are you? How are your father and mother? I am anxious about you. I pray for you with my heart."

A Nogata School official says that they learned the damage of both the schools through the national school for the deaf principals' association, such as home was washed away by the tsunami, the nuclear power plant crisis has forced the local residents and families to move out to other prefectures.

The class took up the earthquake as a topic. Also the teachers and students discussed what they would do for the friends in East Japan, and decided to send the message to both the schools.

Young children of the kindergarten division drew pictures, and the students in the elementary division wrote the messages on the paper. They stuck the pictures and messages on the thick paper with some photographs and the folded paper (origami).

The Nogata School official says, "We will be happy if our messages inspire and cheer up these students in the stricken area even a little."

Understanding the communication needs of Deaf survivors in the disaster-affected area

May 12, 2011

KAWARA Masahiko (50), a board member of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, serves as information and public relations officer for the JFD's Great East Japan Earthquake Deaf Relief Headquarters.

He explained the communication needs of the disaster-stricken Deaf who are living in the shelter.

He said:

"A lot of the Deaf survivors in the stricken area do not get support easily, because not only they fail to get necessary information, but also it is hard for them to make the people around understand their problems.

Because there are few people who sign in the shelter, the Deaf survivors don't have anyone to discuss or ask for help, so they easily get isolated.

The Deaf Relief HQ sent a health and mental team this April to Miyagi Prefecture, a part of the disaster-affected area to conduct the survey on the actual situation of the Deaf survivors. It was found out that there were a lot of them who still needed the mental care.

So the shelter staff should write on paper for the Deaf, or post a notice when announcing about the distribution of food and water, etc. by the microphone speaker. The degree of hearing loss is various. For some deaf person, you may have to speak slowly and a bit loudly. Some deaf person requires writing for communication.

The importance is that you show the willingness to communicate with the Deaf. You use the body language, or gesture, writing in the air, etc. by all means even if you don't know sign language. Your good will certainly touch the Deaf who have given up talking, and the conversation will start.

Fire and Disaster Management Agency considers the strobe-type fire warning for the Deaf

May 9, 2011

The study committee of the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Fire and Disaster Management Agency completed the report that points the immediate installation of the strobe-type fire alarm to warn the Deaf passengers in the building such as the stations and hotels which a lot of people visit around, beside the sound or audio fire-alarm device.

The agency plans to review the applicable laws and regulations in the future to meet the increasing needs of the Deaf/hard of hearing community.

There are now about six million people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened including the elder according to the report.

The agency has set up the study committee to discuss the public emergency alarm with representatives of the industry groups and Deaf/hard of hearing groups in 2010. They have continued the discussion on the effectiveness, etc. of the alarm unit by using light, the vibration, the stench, and character representation, etc.

Deaf and hearing friends enjoy the friendship softball event in Nagoya City

The Deaf participants play softball as a part of the friendship event.

May 9, 2011

The Nagoya City Society of the Deaf held the 32nd friendship softball event in the Sportsland at Moriyama Ward in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture on May 7.

The Deaf participants from graders through the sixties and their families, Nihon Fukushi University (Japan Welfare University) students and friends participated. They were divided into three teams and enjoyed the exciting game.

On the pleasant day like an early summer, all the participants enjoyed playing, and cheered one another in sign language.

Society chairman Yasuhiro Nishikawa (54) said with a smile, "All the Deaf and hearing participants had a good time together."

International symposium on sign linguistics in Asia to be held in Tokyo

The International Symposium concerning the sign linguistics in Asia will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2011, 13:00-17:30 at the University of Tokyo.

Sponsoring are The University of Tokyo, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The Nippon Foundation, with the Japanese Association Sign Linguistics.

Introduction of The Chinese University of Hong Kong's Asia Pacific Region sign language linguistics research education program

"Sign languages of Southeast Asia"
James Woodward, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

"Various syntax and recept of employment, movement, and perception of Japanese Sign Language"
Yasuhiro Ichida, National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities

"Evaluation of Receptive skills in Japanese Sign Language as Deaf children's first language"
Hitomi Akahori, Meisei Gakuen School for the Deaf

"Meaning of sign language research in deaf education"
Gradius Tang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Interpreting will be provided in spoken Japanese, JSL and English.

Admission: free

Relevant information support indispensable to persons with disabilities in the disaster-affected area

May 10, 2011

ABE Kazuhiko, president of the Sendai City Welfare Association of Persons with Disabilities and head of the "Miyagi Support Group for the Survivors with Disabilities" consisted of concerned organizations of persons with disabilities in Miyagi Prefecture, talked about the actual situation of Deaf and blind survivors and issues of the support system.

He said:

Many of the Deaf and the persons with visual impairment who had stayed in the shelter immediately after the earthquake returned to home soon. The main reasons were, as they say, "It is not comfortable to live in the shelter," "I do not want to bother other people there."

For the Deaf survivors, if nobody can interpret or take a note, they would not understand the audio/spoken information in the shelter.

Also even though the Deaf and blind survivors return home, they would not be able to get the life support information easily, so they would be worried not to get the water supply and food supplies.

The informative support to the Deaf and blind survivors becomes especially important at the time of the earthquake. I am worried about whether they are obtaining information on the support system such as the application for funding to cover the damaged residence, etc. It is necessary to provide the relevant information according to their needs.

The Protection of Computer Processed Personal Data Act possessed by administrative agencies is the hurdle in our support system.

When the Survivors with Disabilities Relief Support headquarters set up in Sendai City by the Japanese Disability Forum (JDF) located in Tokyo tried to investigate the situation of the survivors with disabilities in the affected area, the municipalities did not allowed us to use the disability card list at the time of this earthquake. The disability card list was available for the safety confirmation, etc. before enforcement of the Act.

The Sendai City Welfare Association for the Persons with Disabilities advanced to check the safety of our members the next day after the earthquake occurred, but we found only a part of the memberships. There is a case a group was struck in the coast, disappearing without even the membership list. If we don't know where you are, support activity is difficult to function.

This earthquake gave us a lesson that neither assumption nor measures of the support system for persons with disabilities are enough. We will review the measures for more appropriate ones, and appeal to the local government for sharing the information with the local communities, concerned welfare organizations, etc.

Deaf couple in Miyagi Prefecture unaware of tsunami warning after the earthquake, saved by hearing brother

May 10, 2011

WATANABE Seiji (70) and his wife Katsuko (66), both Deaf, lived with their hearing son (41) and his family in Yuriage in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, a kilo away from the Pacific coast.

When the earthquake occurred, Watanabe was taking a nap. He waked up by big shakes and saw the television set and the table have fallen down in the room.

Watanabe doesn't make a habit to use the Internet or watch a television either. His hearing family members used to give information on the earthquake in sign language. However, they all were out somewhere then.

Watanabe turned on the television, only finding out that it was not available due the electric power failure. He began putting things in order in the house without obtaining information on the earthquake and the tsunami.

The fire fighting group in the loudspeaker van warned the local residents for the shelter from the tsunami in the district immediately after the earthquake. Watanabe and Katsuko were not aware of it.

It was about 15:30. Watanabe's elder brother Toshimasa (73) who lives nearby rushed into his house with his wife and hurriedly moved the hands to convey his message, "What are you doing?! The tsunami is coming now!"
Watanabe got out of the house and saw the sea, realizing how serious the situation was. Black waves have approached. Toshimasa took Watanabe, Katsuko and elderly persons in the vicinity to his car, and drove for the shelter located on the hilltop.

The road got narrow and crowded. The tsunami approaches one after another. People crazily ran away, too. Toshimasa drove as fast as possible before being caught by the black wave, and reached the Natori River Bridge on the east part of Sendai road at last.

They stood on the bridge and saw a frightening spectacle of the swirling jet-black waves that swept away the cars, the ships, the utility poles, and the pine trees.

The Watanabe family was safe. The house was gone by the tsunami, and was found in a place away by about 200 meters six days later.
Watanabe, who was brought up in Yuriage, said, "I never thought of the tsunami coming."

On the day the great disaster occurred, all the neighbors who have cared for the Watanabes did not visit them. There was no people seen around in the neighborhood. Watanabe learned later that many of the neighbors had died.

He said, "A lot of hearing people died, but Deaf people like us survived. I owe my brother."

CART supports Deaf university students in the stricken area

Students work on CART at Doshisha University in Kyoto City for deaf students in the stricken area.

May 6, 2011

The PEPNet-Japan* called for cooperation to help the Deaf/hard of hearing students who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Doshisha University in Kyoto City responded to it as one of the coordinated universities.

*The PEPNet-Japan (Postsecondary Education Programs Network-Japan) is an organization to provides resources and expertise that enhance educational opportunities for people who are deaf/hard of hearing studying in the higher education institutions across Japan.

Doshisha University students offered CART* to deaf students attending Miyagi University of Education in Sendai City on May 6.

*CART means "computer-aided realtime translation" services.

Two deaf students at Miyagi University of Education away by about 600 kilos from Kyoto City understood what the professor spoke through "iPhone" in hand in the classroom.

Doshisha University is scheduled to continue support for Miyagi University of Education in the future.

A Doshisha University senior who volunteered for CART said, "I was not sure at first as it was possible to see neither the classroom nor the teaching material, but I was able to actually felt that our service was reached the deaf students at the university far away from Kyoto through the personal computer. I want to continue this support."

JSL linguistic meeting scheduled for June in Tokyo


The Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference (TISLR), which is held once about every three years, took place at Purdue University in Indiana on September 30-October 2, 2010.

The Japanese Association of Sign Linguistics(JASL)will hold the first session this year at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo on Saturday, June 25, 2011, 13:00-17:00.

Two speakers who attended TISLR will be invited to explain the current trend in sign language linguistics field from a international point of view: MORI Soya of the Institute of Developing Economies and HARA Daisuke of Toyota Technological Institute.

JASL Member: free
Non-member: 1000 yen

Interpretation by JSL and spoken Japanese will be offered.

Prominent deaf percussionist from Britain to give performance at Yokohama City in June

Dame Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie


Dame Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie who is hard of hearing, won the Grammy award two times and is active as a solo percussionist in the world.

The performance/talk show is scheduled to be held in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture on Friday, June 3, at 18:30, 2011.

The special seat, called a "McDonald seat," with the virtual sound device in the seat by the cooperation of Pioneer Corp. and McDonald's Co., Japan, will be offered to the persons who are deaf/hard of hearing.

The admission fee is free: 50 persons who are deaf/hard of hearing on pre-registration basis.

English/Japanese and JSL interpreting as well as note-taking will be available.

Deaf woman to perform Japanese dance in Tokyo

Watanabe Mika puts practice under the instruction of her master Sennami Kazukage (right) for the upcoming show.

May 1, 2011

A Deaf company employee WATANABE Mika (32) from Edogawa Ward, Tokyo will make her first appearance on the stage by the Japanese dance group, Sennami Japanese Dance School, in Asakusa Public Hall in Taito Ward, Tokyo on May 4.

After she had become a disciple, she came to be able to dance with the tune that she cannot hear in ten months. She will dance in the formal stage, saying, "I want to give courage to people who has the same problem as mine".

Watanabe, who had a mild hearing loss, attended the hearing school from elementary through high school. When she was 17 years old, her doctor said that the operation was impossible." So she gave up her dream to become a nurse.

She challenged horse riding and Taekwondo to test her own potential. She also willingly searched for the classroom to learn how to dance in kimono, and e-mailed any Japanese dance schools. It was only SENNAMI Kazukage (40), the head of the Japanese dance school who responded.

He was surprised that Watanabe was so concentrated that she remembered how to dance only by seeing once. He gave her a traditional dance which includes basic steps as her work.

Members of the school agree that Watanabe is very eager to practice.

The group performance which was originally scheduled for March postponed until May due to the earthquake.

Symposium on the Deaf and the disaster to take place in Nagoya City

The Nagoya City Association of the Deaf will hold the symposium concerning the Deaf and the disaster on May 29, Sunday, 13:30-16:00, 2011 at Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture.

The theme is "The DNN JSL News and the Great East Japan Earthquake." The lecturer will be EZOE Satoshi, the Deaf leader of the Deaf News Network (DNN).

Ezoe started the DNN after he gathered the volunteers to cover the digital divide among the Deaf people at the time of the devastating disaster.

DNN has regularly delivered the JSL news. Until now it delivered more than 500 news chips with about over 190,000 hits.

DNN link:

International Sign:

Messages from overseas (JSL):

My experience in the earthquake (JSL):

Hard of hearing rugby player at university challenged

Otsuka Takayuki, a hard of hearing Teikyo University student, practices dashing on slope with his teammates.

May 2, 2011

A born-deaf rugger OTSUKA Takayuki was admitted to Teikyo University, one of the strongest university rugby teams which won straight for 2 years in a row, this spring. "I want to see the possibility as a member of the Deaf community."

He heights 166 centimeters and his body appears small among over 100 stronger and taller teammates. He puts off the hearing aid, and runs hard. He carefully watches the moves of his teammates, taps the teammate when he doesn't understand, and uses body language to communicate.

Otsuka declined the family's recommendation for the school for the deaf, instead chose Teikyo University because he believed, "The university is good at upbringing of the player from an unnamed school".

It was not sweet for him. He was placed to the D group, the lowest one, in teaming remunerative. "The practice is very hard, and I thought once I might have made a wrong decision. But this was what I chose myself and I will never give up."

After he started playing rugby when he was a fourth grader, his introverted character changed. He was on the local team representing Oita Prefecture when he was in the junior high school. He was captain at the high school. He participates in the training camp of the Deaf Rugby Club as a university student.

Head Coach Iwade speaks, "Otsuka has a terrible challenge mind and has something that deepens bonds of the team". Captain Morita said, "I know he has practiced to the utmost. We talk to him more so that he may not feel uneasy ." Even teammates learned sign language, too.

Otsuka's goal is to compete at the official rugby game and contribute the victory. The viewers who see the game on the TV would certainly learn that even if he is deaf, he can do it.' My virtue is that I have a strong mind. Absolutely, I will not be defeated."

Three people killed or injured by Deaf man in Osaka


Two men and a woman were killed or injured severely in the apartment at Osaka City.

The Osaka Prefecture Police arrested an unemployed man named TSUKIYAMA Sakae (59) for the suspicion of the homicide and the attempted murder on April 30.

Tsukiyama killed ONISHI Yoshitomo (44) and his ex-wife SHIMOMURA Yuka (39), both unemployed and lived in the same room, with the kitchen knife and stabbed the neck of the neighbor (68) living in another room on April 27.

Tsukiyama, Onishi and Shimomura are Deaf. They have been friends for more than a decade years, a kind of love triangle. Tsukiyama has lived on the public benefit.

He explained, "Onishi came to my home and wanted to take me to his home, so I felt something dangerous and hid the kitchen knife." The reason to attack the neighbor, as he said, "because he suddenly walked out of his room on my way to get out of the crime scene."

Another neighbor (78) near the apartment where Tsukiyama lives said with a surprise, "He is rather obedient. He often cleaned the garbage depository in the apartment. I cannot believe he was arrested for the murder".

YouTube: Tsunami hitting the town in Miyagi Prefecture on March 11

One of the local residents in the Minami-Sanrikuzen Town in Miyagi Prefecture, who finally made a way to escape to the hill, took the tsunami hitting the town by a digital camera on March 11, 2011.

Duration: 5:29 mins

Interpreter supports the Deaf survivors in the area devastated by the earthquake


To support the Deaf community in the area devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami, NAKAMURA Nakamura (58) was in Tagajo City, Miyagi Prefecture for one week from April 5. She is a part-time staff of the Hokkaido Prefecture Health Welfare Section.

She interpreted for the clients with disabilities at the Tagajo City office by the request of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Nakamura met six Deaf persons. A woman in her fifties who lost her husband visited the office to change of the name of the insurance card. Two family members came to consult about the restoration of home which was flooded, etc.

Nakamura was surprised at extensive of damage in the area, saying "The scale was different this time" though she had worked as an interpreter in the stricken area when the Mt.Usu erupted in 2000.

She met a Deaf married couple when she stopped at the shelter before leaving for Hokkaido. They said in sign language, "Thank you for coming from Hokkaido far away from here." She was touched by the warmth of the people in Tohoku region: They showed appreciation for the people who visited though they were the disaster victims.

Nakamura says, "I want to go to other regions for support if I am needed. When the day for revival comes some time, I want to meet the people in Tagajo City again."

Related link:

Fukushima School for the Deaf reports on the current situation

April 26, 2011

Fukushima Prefecture has suffered from the four pillar of the devastating disaster: not only the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami but also the nuclear power plant accident and the harmful rumor of radiation leak.

Fukushima Prefectural School for the Deaf (73 students from the preschool through high school) is located in Koriyama City with its three branch schools in Fukushima City, Aizuwakamastu City and Iwaki City that offer the preschool and elementary program.
In the prefecture school, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred at 14:46, Friday, March 11. At that time the admission examination to high school was administrated and all the high school students were absent, except 30 young children who were about to go home.

For a few minutes after the emergency announcement to stand by, one of the teachers shouted, "Be advised quickly!" as the roaring noise of the earthquake was heard.

All the children were gathered in the schoolyard while the aftershock continued, and warmed themselves in the school bus, waiting for the parent to pick up. A teacher had lost mother in Soma City because of the tsunami.
On Saturday, April 12, the school accepted the evacuees by the nuclear power plant accident from the Soma and Futaba Cities upon the request of the prefecture education board. They came to the school the next day. That time the largest number of the evacuees was 128. All the staff received them with sincerity. Four groups cooked to offer them three meals a day.
The evacuees were moved to other accommodations in Koriyama City on Wednesday, April 13. Meanwhile the graduation ceremony took place in the Principal's office. A girl who graduated from the elementary school went to Miyazaki Prefecture Miyakonojo Support School for the Deaf in the southern island of Japan.
All the staff put everything back in order by Friday, April 15. The children with the disabilities were welcome as their school building was completely destructed. The new student welcome event and the entrance ceremony were held on April 18.

There a little radiation is admitted and aftershocks still continue, but the children are happily spending hours on school activities. Caring for their mental health is conducted carefully and systematically. We hope to have a counselor who is fluent in sign language if possible.
Only the beam fell down in the faculty's office of the Fukushima Branch School for the Deaf located in the inland where 17 young children attend. The new student welcome event and the entrance ceremony were executed as scheduled on April 6.

The Aizu Branch School for the Deaf also in the inland which no damage was reported, executed the new student welcome event and the entrance ceremony on Wednesday, April 6. Three boys are cheerful as ever.

The building, etc. of Taira Branch School for the Deaf located in Iwaki City on the Pacific coast were damaged. Thirteen young children joined the new student welcome event and the entrance ceremony on Friday, April 15

Three children have evacuated to Sapporo School for the Deaf in Hokkaido, Gunma Prefecture and Tokyo respectively. One of the teachers lost his house by the tsunami, and also other lost one, the first floor of the house was flooded.

Schools for the Deaf in the disaster-hit area report : Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures

April 26, 2011

Each school for the Deaf located in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima Prefectures, where the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami hit, made a report on the current situation.

- Iwate Prefecture Morioka Support School for the Deaf
There was no damage by the tsunami because the school is located in the inland. Some cracks were found in the wall due to the earthquake.

No children and family suffered from the big damage either, and various goods were insufficient because of the stagnation of business circulation.

It was possible to get it over as the school was just closed for the spring vacation. We wish to express our gratitude for the Japanese Federation of the Deaf's Deaf Relief Project delivering necessary things such as the batteries the other day.
School started again on April 12, a little behind the yearly schedule and the entrance ceremony was held the next day. The children all are very cheerful now. We are committed to advance their education though the aftereffect of the earthquake still remains.

- Miyagi Prefecture Morioka Support School for the Deaf
In the schoolhouse and the gym, etc. including the dormitory there are mainly peeling off and a lot of cracks of mortar. However, these actually haven't prevent the children from attending the class.
The class has been restarted since April 21. As there is few obstacle from the traffic interception, the children has commuted at the regular time since April 25. Extracurricular activities after school, etc. are scheduled to restart, too.
There are several children and their families whose home was damaged by the tsunami though neither any children nor the parents are missing or injured. It is hard to find out about their family situation in detail, but we assume that there is no children who psychologically suffer the great shock at some extent to refuse going to school.