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.
"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.