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.

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