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.
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.