OKI and AAJD Release Free SOS Placard Support Tool in 15 Languages for Use in Emergencies by the Deaf

June 26, 2011

TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OKI (OKI Electric Industry) and AAJD (Architectural Association of Japanese DEAF) 1 have created SOS Placards that allow the hearing impaired or foreigners who do not speak Japanese to point to illustrations on a placard to indicate their status in the event of emergencies, including natural disasters and sudden illness. The placards will be available on AAJD's homepage (http://www.aajd.org/) in 15 languages by the end of July.

The hearing impaired, those with speech difficulties, and foreigners who do not speak Japanese communicate with the physically unimpaired through interpreters or through written messages. However, writing can be impractical for real-time communications, and interpreters may be absent in the event of disasters and sudden illness.

In 2007, OKI and AAJD have created SOS Placards cards in Japanese and English that allow the hearing impaired and foreigners who do not speak Japanese to point to illustrations on placards to communicate their status in emergency situations, including natural disasters and sudden illness. The placards have been used at more than 30 locations in Japan, including fire-fighting head offices, hospitals and schools.

To make the placards available to more foreigners, AAJD have made placards in 15 languages, free of charge, which will be downloadable on the AAJD homepage (http://www.aajd.org/) at the end of July. The project resulting in the SOS Placards is supported by the OKI 100 Yen Fund of Love, in which OKI Group officers and employees take part.

Designed for use in emergencies, the SOS Placards use not just letters, but icons and pictograms,2 based on OKI's universal design know-how and expertise. The icons and pictograms were designed by OKI Workwel, an OKI Group company that specializes in the home employment of the physically challenged. Anticipating use of the placards in face-to-face communications with emergency life guards, the cards also feature Japanese script readable from the opposite side. Users can prepare for emergencies by downloading image files to their mobile phones and smartphones from the AAID homepage.

In an experiment involving actual use of the SOS Placards, an individual with hearing disabilities was able to communicate 20% faster and 20% more accurately using the cards. Users surveyed also indicated they felt more confident when carrying the cards.

Prior to releasing the placards on the homepage, AAJD has created a free, A5 size leaflet, "SOS Handbook", which is distributed at approximately 200 locations throughout Japan at hospitals and fire stations. AAJD is planning to send the leaflet to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Moving forward, OKI and AAJD will continue to collaborate to promote various other social contribution activities.

[About SOS Placard]
- Distribution: From the AAJD homepage
- Languages (15 languages): Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), Portuguese, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Finish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Russian

1 Architectural Association of Japanese DEAF (AAJD)
Founded in 1997 by integrating Tokyo Architectural Club of DEAF and Kinki Architectural Club for DEAF. Members aim to enhance welfare of the hearing impaired who work in construction and civil engineering related work.

2 Pictogram
Also called pictorial symbols or pictographic subjects, these symbols are used to display information and to attract attention. In this particular context, they are identical to icons and use simple pictures and diagrams to represent meaning.

About OKI Electric Industry (OKI)
Founded in 1881, OKI Electric Industry is Japan's leading telecommunications manufacturer. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, OKI provides top-quality products, technologies, and solutions to customers through its info-telecom systems and printer operations. Its various business divisions function synergistically to bring to market exciting new products and technologies that meet a wide range of customer needs in various sectors . Visit OKI's global website at

The names of the companies and products mentioned in this document are the trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies and organizations.

Press contact:
OKI Electric Industry
Sonomi Kitamura, +81-3-3501-3835
Public Relations Division


Signature campaign to realize the legal system for the Deaf

Honma Toyoko (left) calls for signatures in front of the station.
(photo: http://mytown.asahi.com/mie/news.php?k_id=25000001106300003)

June 30, 2011

Seven groups in total including the Yokkaichi City Welfare Society of the Deaf, the City Society of the Hard of Hearing, etc. called for the signature for two days on June 28-29 in front of Kintetsu Yokkaichi Station in Yokkaichi City for the realization of the legal system to secure those who are Deaf or hard of hearing the right to information access and communications.

The development of legal systems that secures the information access through sign language and caption to the disaster broadcasting, the government press conference, the commercial, besides the communications support such as the sign language interpreter and the note taking, etc. has been requested nationwide.

In the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006, which assumes that "Sign language is a language," Japan has not ratified it yet though signed the agreement in 2007. It has been worried that the Deaf victims in the stricken area by the Great East Japan Earthquake are deprived of information access.

Vice President of the Society of the Deaf HONMA Toyoko (70) signed through the interpreter, "We want our sign language to be recognized as a language. We hope people understand our signature campaign to deliver the collected signatures to the Diet."

Japanese cartoon about Deaf girl adapted for Chinese TV show

Chinese young stars who acted as sweethearts
(photo: http://www.peoplechina.com.cn/wenhua/2011-05/18/content_358893.htm)

Cho Reirei presents a speech on her hard work to produce a Chinese version.
(photo: http://www.peoplechina.com.cn/wenhua/2011-05/18/content_358893.htm)

June 25, 2011

Cho Reirei, president of the Communication Satellite Broadcasting "Daifu," who has taken an active part between Japan and China as a producer, adapted a popular Japanese cartoon for a Chinese TV drama. It was aired on the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) at the end of May, and was highly applauded in China.

The original cartoon titled "Your hands whisper" by KARUBE Junko is about a Deaf girl who was getting over the difficulties in the daily life. The setting was replaced to China for the TV show.

In China, such a show with a lot of sign language used was the first time.

Cho, a former Chinese student who studied in Japan, said, "The influence that the South Korean drama has had on relations between Japan and South Korea was great. I want to introduce a good work on Japan in China, and to give them a good impression."


Colorfully-attired rangers disguised by teachers to support Deaf children

June 23, 2011

The event was held at the Hyogo Prefectural Toyooka Special Support School for the Deaf in Toyooka City on June 22. The school introduced a new group called the "Toyooka Rangers and the Special Support Fleet," originally formed by the school staff.

Each teacher wrapped in a red, blue, and yellow clothes acts as a hero. They will perform as a "hero who helps children with disabilities" in various events in the future.

The school has 24 Deaf children and students schools from preschool to junior high school. The teachers bought the colorful clothes on the market with the 50,000-yen donation by a local Lions Club.

To supplement the audio information for the Deaf students, the school has practiced the education method that emphasizes on visual support with the use of a colorful illustration and a photograph of person as the teaching material.

The "colorful rangers" are a part of the attempt to improve students' concentration and to promote them to positively participate in various events.

On the day, the exchange program was held with ten local Lions Club members in the gym. When the colorful rangers showed up and took a good pose after attacking the teachers who acted as a villain, all the students watched eagerly. They also enjoyed playing a game with three rangers and the Lions Club members.


Fund-raising campaign for prefecture Deaf sports meet

June 22, 2011

The 44th Hokkaido Prefecture Deaf Sports Meet, which is scheduled in Otaru City on June 24-26, may not be open because of the financial deficit of about 320,000 yen.

The total amount of fees collected from the business advertising was not enough due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Otaru Society of the Deaf (67 members) that organizes the event will work to raise funds again to overcome the financial distress.

Over 360 Deaf participants aged between 15 and eighties from all the prefecture in the northern island of Japan compete by seven games like futsal, bowling, etc. at the annual sports meet.
It was the first time in 25 years to be held in Otaru.

The Otaru Society has been advancing the preparation little by little since last year. However, the devastating earthquake occurred in March which delayed the preparation as the priority had have to be given to support the Deaf victims in the stricken area as a society.

The Prefecture Deaf Sports Meet, which would lead to the National Athletic Meet for the Deaf, is a big event for the Deaf who love sports.


Disaster emergency information fails to reach the Deaf community in Ibaraki Prefecture

June 23, 2011

In Ibaraki Prefecture, it was found out that when the great earthquake hit East Japan, the emergency information on disaster including tsunami, water supply, etc. through the local administration's wireless broadcast didn't reach the Deaf residents, because it is possible mainly through the audio method.

"I could do nothing but followed my colleagues who were running away together to an in-house evacuation site."

OUCHI Masakzu (48), a Deaf resident in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, was working at the company in the city when the earthquake hit the area on March 11. He did not hear at all though at the time of the approaching tsunami there was broadcasting that called for shelter via 92 disaster prevention administrative wirelesses in the city.

Ouchi, unaware of a tsunami, left the company by car around 17:00 to return home. His home was located far from the coast by about 500 meters. He was surprised when arriving at home to see the dramatically changed view. The house the nearest the sea in four front of the houses had collapsed due to the tsunami. The surrounding block wall had the mark that the water came up to about five meters in height though his home was safe except the above the floor level flooded. Ouchi signed, "It was that time when I got scary for the first time."

The Hitachi City Society of the Deaf which Ouchi serves as the president conducted the questionnaire for 54 members after the earthquake.

Twenty members answered as the following result:
- 7 members never got the disaster emergency information.
- 13 got e-mail from friends and relatives, or their neighbor told about the tsunami.
- only one person got a fax message from the City Welfare Division for Persons with Disabilities.

The Deaf residents in the prefecture are estimated 7,054 (as of the end of March) according to the Ibaraki Prefecture Welfare Division for Persons with Disabilities.

Also the informal meeting with city officers, etc. and the society members in the beginning of June was held. There were opinions and requests one after another;
- "I could survive if the officer who can act as a sign language interpreter turns round the evacuation sites,"
- "I was not informed and had to follow the people around for evacuation," etc.

The Deaf community pointed out that there is the "digital divide".

HISAMATSU Mitsuji, director of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf commented about the result of the survey in the Hitachi City, "There was a similar state also in many other regions."

"The municipality should make the system so that it contacts the residents directly. From a Deaf point of view as a tax payer, the regional differential should not happen. It should be dealt with by the politics of the Government."


Disaster alert text message system for the Deaf

Izumi Masato (right), secretary-general of the Deaf council, explains the disaster emergency system via e-mail.
(photo: http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201106240050.html)


The Bingo Disaster Prevention Council for the Deaf invited the persons in charge of the three cities and one town in the east part of Hiroshima Prefecture to the meeting in the City Region Activity Support Center in Fukuyama City in the prefecture on June 23. The meeting was about how the disaster emergency system via e-mail worked.

About 40 persons in charge of disaster prevention and fire station members participated. IZUMI Masato, secretary general of the Council, explained the system which has started in June, and asked for the information that the disaster emergency headquarters had been set up in the public office because he will corresponded ahead of time. The participants responded that they would cooperate positively.

Izumi will receive the information from the local administration via cellular phone, put the color to show the degree of risk in the background of the text message and e-mail all the Deaf members. Information is accepted from the member in the disaster area.

Deaf photographer's works to be exhibited

Pieces of the photographs by Deaf photographer

June 20, 2011

A non-profit organization A/A gallery will hold the 9th special exhibition on July 6 - August 12, 2011 in Tokyo to show the works titled 'Absolutely' of a Deaf photographer SAITO Harumichi (齋藤陽道).

Saito, a native of Tokyo, has won an excellent prize in 2009 and 2010 at the "Canon Photo New Century," a gateway to success for new photographers, many of whom currently are widely active one after another the inside and outside of the country.

Moreover, Saito is a rising photographer much expected, attracting attention, such as his new photograph collection scheduled for this autumn.

He is also a martial artist named "Hinomichi," belonging to a group of wrestlers with disabilities, "Dog Legs."

A/A gallery is an art center to bridge between artists with disabilities and society. "Able Art Japan," a non-profit parent organization, opened the gallery in April, 2010, after repairing the old building of the junior high school which was closed in Tokyo.

A/A gallery official site (English):

Full-time sign language interpreter placed first time at public hospital in Gifu Prefecture

Interpreter (right) reports on current state, etc. of interpreting service to Kawaue Akio (left), former president of Gifu City Welfare Society of the Deaf in the Gifu City Hospital.
(photo: http://www.gifu-np.co.jp/news/kennai/20110621/201106211007_14208.shtml)

June 21, 2011

The interpreter has started to work full-time in the Gifu City Hospital in Gifu Prefecture since June. She interprets for the Deaf patient when examining and treating, etc. to make communications smooth between the Deaf client and the medical expert.

Few medical institutions across in the country places the full-time sign language interpreter, so the attempt by the Gifu City Hospital as a public hospital is the first time in the prefecture.

Before the rebuilding maintenance project that the hospital is advancing now, there was an informal meeting that gathered the representative of each group of the persons with disabilities. KAWAUE Akio, former president of Gifu City Welfare Society of the Deaf, demanded that the hospital should offer the full-time interpreting service.

The city provides its interpreting service which needs the reservation beforehand, being unavailable for emergency such as sudden illness, etc.

The sign language interpreter works, standing by at the reception desk in the hospital 8:30-13:30 weekday.

Deaf swimmer aiming at World Deaf Swimming Championships

Kanaji Yoshikazu, one of the best high school swimmers in Saga Prefecture.
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0.1952070.article.html)

June 20, 2011

KANAJI Yoshikazu (17), a hard of hearing senior of Karatsu Trade High School in Saga Prefecture, will compete in "the 3rd World Deaf Swimming Championships" in Portugal in August 6 - 13.

He is one of the best swimmers who shone to triple crown by backstroke 50,100 and 200 meters in the prefecture high school contest. In the upcoming championship, he has been enlisted for six items including three backstroke items. Kanaji willingly said, "I want to take the gold medal back home and give the Deaf community courage".

He had been persuaded by the president of the Japanese Deaf Swimming Association to participate in the championship, in January, 2011. He was puzzled because he had never competed in the Deaf swimming game; he has always swum against the able-bodied swimmers for a long time.

However, he learned that an Olympic swimmer from South Africa also had competed in the past, and determined participation.

Kanaji has swum with mother who was an instructor the swimming club since he was a little baby. He became one of the top-class swimmers in the prefecture due his efforts. He currently swims about 5,000 meters six days a week.

He has marked 60.00 seconds for the 100-meter backstroke this season, which has already exceeded the best record of the last meet by 1.32 seconds.

Deaf woman from South Korea speaks 4 languages

"The reason why a Deaf person like me can talk in 4 languages"

A Credit Suisse employee Kim Sue Lin speaks clearly, "Anything doesn't arise from the negative thinking, and anything doesn't change."

June 20, 2011

Kim Sue Lin (39) is the author of a book titled "The reason why a Deaf person like me can talk in 4 languages."

She explained why she wrote it. "My life has been a rocky and full of drama. I told about it humorously, and all friends were shocked. At the same time they urged me to write a book by all means, which I decided to do it."

Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her parents were divorced when she was two years old. She was deserted by them at the age of four, became a homeless child, and lost hearing at the age of six.

Kim came to Japan to live with mother who remarried to the Japanese, at the age of 12. Mother owned the snack bar and was hardly able to care for Kim. She had been cared temporarily by other. She did not understood any school lessons, getting the low grade, bullied by her classmates, too.

Usually such a life full of troubles makes you feel pessimistic, but Kim was different.

"I had neither money nor an academic background. I am Deaf, too. I thought, 'I have to learn English if I live alone'."

Kim determined to go to study in Britain by herself after she had graduated from the high school. She learned how to move the mouth and to use the throat for the vibration, practiced repeatedly, and mastered English. Afterwards, she traveled 30 countries for three years. Kim also learned Spanish to have a cheerful friend of Latin origin.

When speaking in English in a foreign-affiliated financial institution that she found employment, Kim introduced herself, saying "I'm deaf" without any hesitation, and requested the other party to speak slowly for her.

Kim is fluent in four languages; Korean, Japanese, English and Spanish.

Intensive training for 2012 World Deaf Athletics Championships

Morimoto, a world-record holder, practices hammer throwing at the training camp.
(photo: http://www.nnn.co.jp/news/110619/20110619003.html)

June 19, 2011

The 2nd World Deaf Athletics Championships (WDAC) will take place in Toronto, Canada in July, 2012.

Intensive training for the Japanese athlete candidates was held on June 18-19 in Tottori City, in which 23 people including athletes, trainers and staff participated and worked hard.

At the second training event, the athletes went through a warm-up and each of them worked on the training schedule respectively.

Head coach SAEGUSA Takayuki (42) spoke, "They usually practice separately, but this time they practiced together which led to good team work and the improvement of the skills".

MORIMOTO Masatoshi (25) is a hammer throwing gold medalist of the 1st WDAC and the world-record holder, too. He said with a smile, "My physical strength has fallen a little, and I piled up the practice firmly in these two days. The new world record and the 2nd straight victory will be my targets."

Deaf students experience as fisherman offing in Nagasaki Prefecture

June 9, 2011

Six high school students of Nagazaki Prefecture School for the Deaf located in Omura City, Nagazaki Prefecture had a fishing experience program in the offing in the Nagasaki City on June 8. It was a part of the workshop trip that students plan by themselves.

It was the first time for the fisherman to accept these Deaf students, but they were so eager that they worked well as a fisherman a day.

The Deaf students had planned the two-night workshop trip before graduating next spring. They found a fisherman experience program that fisherman MIURA Hiroo (46) has offered, and applied by fax.

Miura thought first he would refuse the application because it was dangerous to fail to hear audio warnings. However, he consented willingly because of the students' positiveness.

The six students went out offshore of about 15 minutes by ship wearing the rain jacket and the life jacket over their gym wear and began working.

TSUBOTA Isamu (19) signs about his impression, "Handling the fishing net was heavy and was difficult though I had thought that I could do it even in my best ability."

UEDA Taiki (19), whose grandfather is a fisherman, has lived in the dormitory since he was three years old. The fishery experience was the first time for him. He signed, "I learned something good though it was tough for me."

A part of the fish that was landed lined up immediately in the morning fair. Miura made the fish into slices of raw fish and other in boiling to serve the students. He said, "Please remember something you usually eat means you are given the life."

Across the sea where the engine sounds so loudly that it is hard to catch what is said on the ship, the students divided into two ships easily communicated in sign language one another.


Deaf leader honored for his work for the acquisition of the driving license by the Deaf

Oya Takashi (58), president of the Mie Prefecture Association of the Deaf honored with the Yellow Ribbon Medal.
(photo: http://mytown.asahi.com/mie/news.php?k_id=25000001106150003)

June 15, 2011

OYA Takashi (58), president of the Mie Prefecture Association of the Deaf, who is born-Deaf, was honored with the Yellow Ribbon Medal for his distinguished services. He had aimed at the world to which Deaf people live just equally like hearing counterparts.

When he was a high school sophomore of the Mie Prefecture School for he Deaf, Oya learned the Deaf were not allowed to acquire the driving license.

He joined the association after graduation, and started the appeal to related agencies and organizations to remove the discrimination against the Deaf. A long but steady activity of the association bore the fruit; the acquisition of the driving license was admitted conditionally for a person who is seriously hearing loss by enforcing the revised Road Traffic Law in June, 2008.

After the photograph development company that he had worked for had given up its business, Oya became a part-time lecturer teaching sign language at Mie University and the high schools. He often talked about acquiring the driving license in details.

He is currently employed as a dormitory care taker at the Prefecture School for the Deaf. "I tell the younger generation about my experience."

Sign language circle held lecture meeting to learn about Deaf people

Deaf man tells the sign language circle members about his work experience at the lecture meeting.
(photo: http://inamai.com/news.php?c=kyofuku&i=201106121723300000043357)


Kamiina Sign Language Circle in the southern part of Nagano Prefecture held a lecture meeting on June 12 to learn the story of Deaf local residents and to make the best use of for the activity in the future. About 40 people from 5 circles in the prefecture gathered.

Four members of the Kamiina Deaf Society talked about how they have felt about the workplace, etc.

"I had a very hard time because I was unable to take communications in my workplace. It was impossible to hear the sound of the chime that tells when to start or stop the operation. I only saw and judged other people's movement."

Other member also signed, "The person who knew sign language was placed in the same office interpreted for me, which has helped me a lot."

The leader of the Kamiina sign language circle spoke, "Members of the circles should do the effort to know not only the sign language skills but also the hardship Deaf persons had in life, and to make it known to the society".

Deaf university student appeals enhancement of the visual information at the time of disaster

Harada Kana talks about her experience in disaster.
(photo: http://www.ehime-np.co.jp/news/local/20110612/news20110612730.html)

June 12, 2011

The lecture meeting related to the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake was held in Ehime University at Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture on June 11. About 40 people participated.

HARADA Kana (22), a sophomore of Tsukuba University of Technology* and a native of Matsuyama City, appealed for the enhancement of information communication on the disaster emergency by a visual device such as an electrical board, flashlights for the emergency, etc.

When spending time in the dormitory in Tsukuba City on March 11, she was struck by the earthquake. She said that she took shelter only relying on the information from the Internet and electrical board.

Harada explained in sign language, "The flashlight did not work at once immediately after the disaster hit the city while there was calling for the evacuation site in the electrical board placed in the university". She emphasized the visual need as the information access through light was easy to get attention from the Deaf to the degree of the high effects.

* Tsukuba University of Technology, located in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, offers the four-year undergraduate program and the two-year graduate program in technical fields to the students who are Deaf/hard of hearing, and visually impaired, respectively.

Persons with disabilities recycle horse numbers to make the bags for sale

Bags that are produced from the recycled horse numbers.
(photograph: http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/shiga/20110608/CK2011060802000114.html)

June 8, 2011

The bags are made from the recycled horse numbers used at the Japan Horse Racing Association (JRA) training center for sale at the work place in facilities for persons with disabilities including the Deaf in Aichi Prefecture.

The workers are challenging to produce a new design such as rucksacks while receiving a technical support from the factory/store specializing in leather goods and the bag.

The horse numbers used for a year in training are donated from JRA, washed by the hand, cut out, and sewn.

The Aichi Prefecture Social Employment Development Project Center has worked for more employment opportunities of the persons with disabilities to increase their income since 2009, jointly with four other work places in the prefecture.

Saga team making it in Kyushu Regional Sports Meet in Miyazaki Prefecture

The Saga softball team

The Saga gate ball team
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0.1935887.article.html)

June 6, 2011

The 48th Kyushu Regional Sports Meet was held in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture on May 22, 2011. The softball team from Saga Prefecture won the championship, and the gate ball team from the same prefecture was in the second place.

The Saga softball team, formed in 2003, was the best one. Eight teams competed in the tournament. The Saga teammates come together from across in the prefecture only once a week for practice. Coach FUKUDA Makoto (51) was pleased, saying "I told the importance of team work, and they answered it."

On the other hand, the Saga gate ball team won the second place again after six years. Eight teams that won the preliminary contest of 14 teams had advanced to the final tournament. The Saga team was defeated against the Oita team by six points in the final.

Captain MAEDA Hidesuke (67) powerfully signed, "If I give the right instruction everyone certainly answers. I want to aim at the victory in the National Sports Meet scheduled to be held in Tokyo in October."

Moscow Deaf Theater Company performance, "Where is Charlie?" (photos)

The Moscow Deaf Theater Company performed on June 11, 2011 as a special program of the JFD's National Conference of the Deaf in Sagon City, Saga Prefecture. Over 800 people enjoyed the play.

(photo: http://www.jfd.or.jp/2011/06/14/pid5834)

The play is scheduled as follows:
June 13 Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture
June 14 Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
June 16 Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture
June 18 in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Deaf female boxer publishes autobiography

The autobiography written by Ogasawara Keiko.
(photo: http://www.tsukuru.co.jp/books/index.html)

June 12, 2011

The autobiography titled "Never Give Up!" (ISBN 978-4-904795-11-8, 1,155 yen) about the experience of the first Deaf female pro boxer was published on May 30, 2011.

The author is OSAGAWARA Keiko who passed the test to become a professional boxer.

In this book, she relates her own experience in being bullied in the elementary school and the junior high school, the truancy during high school days, getting rough boxing, meeting a Deaf trainer and passing the professional boxing test.

Ogasawara had the game against a hearing counterpart in Kourakuen Hall, Tokyo on June 7, but she was defeated by knock-out.

The publication of this book seems to be generated publicity, and to get more attention to her activity in the future.


Related link:

JFD's National Conference in Saga City requests for understanding of the Deaf community's needs

The closing ceremony of the annual National Conference of the Deaf was held in the Saga City Culture Center.
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0.1946178.article.html)

June 13, 2011

The 59th National Conference of the Deaf (Japanese Federation of the Deaf sponsoring) was held in Saga City, Saga Prefecture on June 8-12, attracting 2,200 people or more from the whole country.

There was a ceremony on June 12, and the resolution of 11 items like the information access of the Deaf, the security of the workplace environment, etc. was approved, as well as the understanding of the citizens and the administration was requested.

In the ceremony, JFD President ISHINO Fujisaburo pointed out, "Information was not complete to the Deaf victims in the Great-Earthquake stricken area in East Japan, and their uneasiness had increased." He appealed for the necessities of information transmission means that controls the life in the emergency, of the development of legal systems related to the sign language, and of training volunteers fluent in sign language, etc.

Moscow Deaf theater company performs in Japan to support the Deaf disaster victims

Russian Deaf actors in rehearsal in Moscow.
(photo: http://www.asahi.com/showbiz/stage/theater/TKY201106090404.html)

June 9, 2011

The Moscow Deaf theater company will perform in various parts of Japan since June 11. A part of proceeds will be donated to support the Deaf victims in East Japan.

The company had been active for half a century until break-up of the Soviet Union, etc., which forced them temporarily face the crisis of dissolution due to the cash flow problem. It was the Japanese Deaf community to have held out the hand to their distress. The upcoming performance in Japan means to "repay the kindness."

Actors in traditional clothes perform in sign language. Their expression is rich without voice. The hearing women read their lines under the stage.

Company members worked hard in the last rehearsal in Moscow suburbs before the visit to Japan on June 7. The repertoire is "Where is Charlie?" It is a British 1800's comedy that a university student Charlie acts like an aunt to win the heart of the loved woman.

Deaf painter holds first art exhibition in hometown in Saga Prefecture

Yonemitsu Daikurou proudly points at one of his works, "Morning Fair" that he draws stoutness of woman who sells fish in port.
(photo: http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/246071)

June 8, 2011

YONEMITSU Daikurou (64), a Deaf painter living in Tokyo, held his retrospective exhibition of western-style paintings on June 7-12 in the Saga Prefectural Art Museum in Saga City, his hometown, with 52 oil paintings including an initial work to the recent work.

Yonemitsu lost hearing by the high fever of an uncertain cause at the age of three. He came to like drawing the picture, influenced by the cartoon comics such as "The Iron Man No.28."

He went to Tokyo University of Education (present the University of Tsukuba) School for the Deaf in Chiba Prefecture and studied art. Ever since he has worked hard supported by the word of his former Deaf art teacher, "The power of eyes of the Deaf is excellent."

iPhone application program to guide the Deaf passenger on bus

Figure: iPhone application program for the Deaf
left: selection of the destination or the bus stop.
center: showing the position of the bus running, the arrival time and the fare.
right: showing the bus approaches the destination or the bus stop with the vibration.
(photo: http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0605/OSK201106050046.html)

June 6, 2011

The supporting system with the use of "iPhone" for the Deaf passenger to get on the bus at ease was developed. It has a feature to make the user know when to get off the bus because of the vibration. It is expected practical use in the public transportation facility.

FUJIWARA Akimasa, professors of the Hiroshima University Graduate School (Traffic Engineering) and his team had developed as a consignment project of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in 2010.

The Deaf passenger starts a special application program of iPhone and selects the destination or the bus stop, which is specified by Global Positioning System (GPS) to show arrival time and the fare. iPhone vibrates when the bus stop to get off approaches, and displays the name of the bus stop. Warning goes out when the Deaf passenger gets on a wrong bus.

JFD's National Conference of the Deaf: discussion on the role of the school for the Deaf

June 12, 2011

At the 59th National Conference of the Deaf sponsored by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf in Saga City, the sessions divided into five themes as follows offered the opportunity of the discussions on June 11.

1. Deaf movement
2. Sign language
3. Organization newspaper
4. Education
5. Information-communication technology

A close ceremony was performed on June 12 with the resolutions adopted and other announcements, etc.

The number of cases where the deaf child goes to the mainstreaming program has increased. In the Education Session, teachers and researchers discussed the role of the school for the deaf and the prospectives under the topic entitled, "the current situation and problems that the deaf child has been confronted."

The teachers and the principal from the school for the deaf in Saga and Nagasaki prefectures, respectively, reported the decrease trend in the number of the Deaf children enrolled.

On the other hand, a special assistant of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology showed the data on a national trend; "About 20 percent of the elementary school children transferred to the mainstreaming program, while about 30 percent of the middle school students are transferred from the mainstreaming program." He explained the reason for such a trend is due to the student who academically doesn't achieve or who is unable to cope with an interpersonal relationship."

Professor OTA Tomio of Fukuoka University of Education stated, "Such a quiet Deaf child who is doing with other children with disabilities likely fails to get attention from the teacher." He advised, "To provide a central function of the deaf education, the school for the deaf should remain open."


Earthquake-stricken prefectures report at JFD's General Meeting

June 10, 2011

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf held the 62nd General Meeting on June 10 in Saga City, Saga Prefecture prior the National Conference of the Deaf.

Each representatives from three disaster-stricken prefectures reported the actual situation of the Deaf victims at the beginning of the meeting.

Fukushima Prefecture:
- The Deaf victims' safety confirmation has terminated.

- More evacuation centers have been provided by the prefecture due to the nuclear power plant accident.

- A few Deaf persons live in evacuation centers because of the radioactivity crisis. Even a Deaf victim has evacuated to as far as Okinawa in the southern island of Japan.

- The range of evacuation area due to the nuclear plant accident might extend as near as the Prefecture office of the Deaf association by about 15 km, and we may have to move the office to evacuate in other area.

Miyagi Prefecture:
- There was black out, no gasoline available for sale, either immediately after the earthquake. Three days later we were finally able to check around in the stricken area.

- The disaster-stricken situation actually looked like the town completely destroyed after the air raid on postwar days.

- We didn't know there was the warning on the tsunami, and thought it was nothing to hurt ourselves as the past tsunami at a time of the Chile earthquake, taking off the guard against the up-coming disaster, the devastating tsunami. We have decided the we must run away expecting when the earthquake occurs, a tsunami will follow.

- The municipalities need to offer the interpreting service, but their understanding to the needs of the Deaf community is insufficient.

Iwate Prefecture:
- Our association office, which is located away from the sea, had no damage directly caused by the tsunami, though there was damage done by the earthquake.

- The damage of Sanriku is severe because the tsunami reached up to about the fourth floor of the building with height of 30 or 40 meters.

- There are so many debris that prevent us from visiting Deaf victims' home to confirm their safety, so we turned round by car.

- The snowplough was hard in March. April came, and a few cherry blossoms were noticed to bloom in the stricken area, to be surprised, and we felt encouraged.

All the representatives from the stricken area thanked the encouragement and support from the whole country, and promised that they would work hard aiming at the revival in the future.

excerpted from:

Hoh pitcher Ishii to invite Deaf people to the game in Hokkaido

June 7, 2011

Officials of the Nippon Meat Packers, one of the professional baseball teams, announced on June 7 that hard of hearing pitcher ISHII Yuya (29) would invite about 300 Deaf persons to the baseball game against the Yokohama team in the Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido on June 11.

His request to the team officials about the invitation to the game came to be realized.

He said, "I want those who are invited to experience something that can be done only in the Sapporo Dome by all means. I will put all my feelings if there is a chance for me to throw out and to show a firmly good pitching".

Various projects are executed as a "player's production day" on June 11.


JFD President visits Governor prior to National Conference of the Deaf in Saga Prefecture

JFD President Ishino Fujisaburo (left) shows Gov. Furukawa Yasushi how to sign.
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0.1940620.article.html)

June 8, 2011

The 59th National Conference of the Deaf started on June 8 in Saga City, Saga Prefecture. It is annually held for the Deaf persons to gather from across the country and deepen the research and the social exchange aimed at the social independence and the social status improvement.

ISHINO Fujisaburo, President of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf visited the Saga Prefectural Government with other officials, and asked Governor FURUKAWA Yasushi for cooperation aiming at the enhancement of the welfare for the persons with disabilities.

Ishino described, "The interpreting was provided at the Government press conference three days after the Great East Japan Earthquake, which made us understand how matters stand during the disaster." He also appealed for understanding to the needs of the Deaf community.

Governor Furukawa explained the case with the prefecture such as a barrier-free film festival with caption, and promised to cooperate. He said, "We will work positively when requesting to the Government."

Emergency call by portable online helps the Deaf

"Web119", the online emergency report system, functions only by connecting the address of the user.
(photo: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110605-OYT1T00478.htm)

June 5, 2011

Five cities and one town in the Hanshin area such as Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture have started the new 119 report system "Web119" for the Deaf with the use of the Internet in the cellular phone.

If a cellular phone contains the Global Positioning System (GPS) function, the whereabouts of the report can be found within the range of a lot of meters. The group of persons with disabilities welcomes more means of the emergency call.

"Web119" is a system that contact the fire fighting bureau instruction center for the emergencies even without talking when to use the Internet function of the cellular phone.

It is possible to inform easily without a complex character input when connecting with the address of the user issued beforehand only by choosing options such as "Home," "Destination," "Emergency," "Fire," etc.

Handmade cloth sandals by DeafBlind are popular


Cloth sandals

June 4, 2011

Handmade commodities, produced by "Wakuwaku Work", a regional work facility for the DeafBlind, are very popular. The facility was established in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture in April, 2007.

Among the the handmade products including a book cover sold at "Touch Salon," etc., about 600 pairs of cloth sandals are sold every year. Head OKADA Kyoko (58) says, "Our facility is unusual in Japan. Fifteen persons including 12 DeafBlind are working".

They choose the color of the material and weave the strings of the cloth by the touch sense of the hands one by one.


English article: Sign-language interpreter problems echo Kan's poor communication skills

June 6, 2011

Following the massive earthquake that hit eastern Japan on March 11, many hearing-impaired people had no idea in what direction they should be heading to escape. Some only learned of impending tsunami after they reached higher ground, having been led by the hand by someone else. They often found themselves isolated at evacuation shelters, where they faced extra challenges in obtaining information. For such people, March 13 was a momentous day.

It was this day, two days after the quake and tsunami, that sign-language interpreters made their debut at press conferences held by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano at the Prime Minister's Office. It was an example of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government living up to the party's self-proclaimed identity as a party with "compassion toward the underdog."

Able-bodied viewers may have assumed that these interpreted press conferences have been well-received by those who need them, but that doesn't necessarily appear to be the case.

According to one survey, nearly 70 percent of hearing-impaired respondents said that either they "could not understand the press conferences at all," or that they "could only understand part of the press conferences" signed by interpreters.

Of the various reasons for these survey results, "distance" and "expression" are most striking. Because the interpreters are positioned some distance away from Edano during their appearances, their image on the television screen ends up being rather small. As a result, viewers cannot get a close look at the interpreters' facial expressions.

Because facial expressions and grammar are deeply intertwined in sign language, an interpreter's hand movements alone do not provide the viewer with enough information.

In spoken Japanese, too, facial expressions and tone of voice play an important role. For example, depending on where we choose to place an accent, the words "will not resign" can be either a statement or a question. In addition to voice and expressions, nuance can differ depending on the relationship between the speaker and the listener. In getting one's true intentions across, the emotions and trust that comprise the foundations of language are extremely important.

It was not long ago that after failing to bring opposition parties to the negotiation table concerning taxes and the social welfare reform, Prime Minister Naoto Kan incurred the wrath of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Sadakazu Tanigaki by asking him via phone to consider joining the Cabinet. Kan's lack of communication skills was also the cause of the recent no-confidence motion fiasco. The communication incompetence of Kan -- who at one time during his years as an opposition lawmaker was famous for being a powerful debater -- is serious.

Both Kan and Edano would do well to pay attention to "distance" and "expression." After all, those well-versed in sign language say that ultimately, they look for meaning not so much in the movement of one's fingers, but in the expressions.

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)


One in five interpreters suffers from "repetitive strain injury," investigation says

Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary (right) at a press conference with interpreter in Prime Minister's Office on night, March 14.
(photo: http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/news/110604/bdy11060421340001-n1.htm)

June 4, 2011

The investigation led by the "National Study Society of Interpreting Issues", located in Kyoto City reported that about 80 percent of the interpreters claim for the stiff neck; one in five interpreters may have the possibility of developing "repetitive strain injury. The working environment for the interpreter hardly improves compared with 20 years ago.

The work of the interpreter is harder than what is believed though the specialty like the simultaneous interpretation, etc. at the Prime Minister press conference is high. The society believes that it has been caused by the hard working environment and lack of interpreters required for the quality of work.

The repetitive strain injury is an occupational disease that keeping repeatedly the hands/arms move with the same posture causes not only stiffness and numbness, but also feeling sluggish, nausea, even the sleep disturbance, etc.

The investigation was executed with 1,535 interpreters in the country in September, 2010. 20.2% of the interpreters reported that they always felt the pain and numbness somewhere of the neck, the shoulder, the arm, and the hand, which is almost the same level as the last investigation (20.4%) conduced ten years ago. It also had not been improved since 20 years ago (24.2%).

The interpreters are certified by passing the national examination under the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, or prefecture administrative divisions. There are 2,614 interpreters as of February 1, 2011.

Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami (Wikipedia)

March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami


April 2011 Miyagi earthquake


Shiga Prefecture ends interpreter dispatch to stricken area in East Japan

Poster announcement on the start of the service by Shiga Prefecture interpreters to support the Deaf victims in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture.
(photo: http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/politics/article/20110531000141)

May 31, 2011

The Shiga Prefecture ended the interpreter dispatch project on May 31 that supported the Deaf victims stricken with the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The prefecture alternatively sent three interpreters in total to Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture since May 18 upon the request of the municipality in the stricken area where no interpreters are not placed.

They put a hand-written poster near the main entrance in the city office that notified the establishment of service and called for use. They also visited the home of the Deaf victim. They accepted 30 requests from the Deaf victims regarding the issue procedure in the application for the temporary shelter, residence affliction certificates, etc., and also helped the transportation of the rescue supply, etc.

TABUCHI Chieko (49), one of the interpreters from Shiga, stayed in Natori City on May 18-21. She said, "Some Deaf persons who have a limited writing skill, so they faced the difficulty in conveying what they desired."

A Deaf senor came to the city hall to apply for the temporary shelter because he lost the house by the tsunami. He told Tabuchi he wanted to live next to the elder brother, which she forwarded to the person in charge of the administration.

Natori City has not yet provided the interpreting service to about 100 Deaf residents whose primary language is JSL (Japanese Sign Language). It is reported that the interpreter dispatch from Shiga was highly evaluated by not only the Deaf but also the city.

Tabuchi spoke, "I have realized again the importance of interpreter. Taking the opportunity of the earthquake, I hope more cities would set up the interpreting service."

Fifth anniversary establishment of home for the Deaf senior in Hyogo Prefecture

Oya Susumu (left), director of the home for the Deaf senior, explains the brief history of the home.
(photo: http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/awaji/0004114293.shtml)


The gathering that celebrated the fifth anniversary establishment of a special elderly nursing home called "Awaji Owl Village" in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture took place on May 28. About 500 people including the Deaf aged residents, staff, and those who supported the facility participated.

The home for the Deaf senior was established in April, 2006 by a social welfare group named "The Hyogo Welfare Project Association for the Deaf", the kind of first facility that offers the accessibility to the Deaf senior in the prefecture.

Not only sign language, but also "tentacle sign", the projector, etc. have been used for the communication in the facility. Moreover, there is a device such as a lighting lamp attached to the ceiling in the private room instead of the buzzer, too.

There are 60 persons at present in the facility and 48 of them are Deaf. Seventy-one staff are fluent in sign language, making efforts to a local exchange such as providing the sign language class.

In the ceremony, the letter of thanks was presented to the volunteers and the neighborhood association, etc. The commemorative gift was presented also to the eldest Deaf resident TERAOKA Hatsue (100). She was pleased, saying that "I live long because of the wonderful facility life and the support from the local community."

On the platform, facility director OYA Susumu (63), who is Deaf, greeted in sign language, "We feel grateful for those who supported us to manage the facility."

Sign language dictionary revised first time in 14 years

"The New Japanese-Sign Language Dictionary" which was revised after the first publication 14 years ago.
(photo: http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/news/20110603k0000m040107000c.html)

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf revised the sign language dictionary after an interval of 14 years, "The New Japanese-Sign Language Dictionary." Its sales has started in the bookstore in the whole country in June (B5-size, 1808 pages, 23,100 yen).

In the dictionary, the sign for a Japanese word is explained by using the illustration to show how to sign. More about 2,000 words and phrases are added than the old edition, such as "cellular phone," "metabolic syndrome", etc.

The revision work started two years ago. Over 40 years have passed since the first sign language book was issued in 1969. The editor said, "There are more sign language circles nowadays, and more than 300,000 persons sign. We hope the newly revised dictionary helps the standard sign language spread in Japan."

English version:

National Conference of the Deaf to take place in in Saga City on June 8-12

June 2, 2011

The 59th National Conference of the Deaf, sponsored by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, will be held at Saga City, Saga Prefecture on June 8-12.

About 2,200 Deaf persons and welfare staff, etc. in the whole country will participate and learn something more and deepen social exchange, aiming at social independence and the social welfare development for the Deaf, etc.

The conference is held every year by the round in each prefecture, and holding in Saga Prefecture is the first time.

In a session meeting titled "Deaf Movement," the participants will learn about the decision process of "The Comprehensive Welfare Law for the Persons with Disabilities," and discuss what a necessary social resource for the Deaf is. In other session meetings on "Sign language" and "Education," respectively the participants will discuss related to the spread of sign language, the meaning of the school for the deaf and its prospect.

A Russian Deaf comedy theater, The Moscow Mime Theater, will present comedy titled "Where is Charlie?" as a special program for the general. Besides, there will be cultural programs like an exhibit of excellent photo works that won at the contest, a works exhibit of the Prefectural School for the Deaf students, a barrier-free equipments exhibition, etc.


Hearing teacher fired for repeated corporal punishment to Deaf sisters for a year

May 27, 2011

A temporary teacher (28), who taught the class for the hard hearing students in a municipal junior high school in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, repeated corporal punishments, such as sticking the arm or the leg of the Deaf sisters with a pen, kicking their knee, etc. for a year until October, 2010.

He apologizes saying that his teaching way has been harsh to the sisters, on May 19 when requested to leave the teaching position.

Both the sisters were enrolled from the Shiga Prefecture Oral School for the Deaf; the elder sister in April, 2006 and the younger sister two years later. The elder sister has already graduated.

The school administration tried to guide the teacher after their parents protested. As he didn't show any improvement, the principal was recommending him to leave in the middle of May.


New emergency text message system for the Deaf introduced by Saitama Prefecture Police Office

New 110 emergency text message system developed by the Saitama Prefectural Police Office. (sample is shown here). It is possible to inform only by answering easy question items.
(photo: http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/saitama/TKY201105240537.html)

May 25, 2011

The Saitama Prefecture Police Office established the emergency text message system. With the system, persons who are Deaf/hard of hearing or with speech disability can put down text messages through the chat method on the Internet.

The police staff and those who inform communicate in real time about the situation of an accident, damage and the site, etc. The police communication instruction section staff said, "the new system will lead to the rapid deployment."

A new system can be used from the computer or cellular phone.

Deaf students to perform drum as part of JFD national conference in Saga Prefecture

May 24, 2011

Students in the middle school of Saga Prefectural School for the Deaf, located in the southern island of Japan, are working hard at the practice to perform the Japanese drum for an opening ceremony of JFD's "The 59th National Conference of the Deaf" scheduled in Saga City in June.

Many of the Deaf victims in the Tohoku region struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake will participate in the conference, too. The students are enthusiastic to play, "We want to demonstrate our powerful performance so that they may get inspired."

The drum lesson is popular among the schools for the deaf in the whole country, because the Deaf student can feel the vibration of the drum with the body. The students have played the drum for about 20 years for the events such as a sports meet and a cultural festival at Saga School.

This time, 20 boys and girls from the school will perform, having begun a workout every day since April. The drum performance will take place in the cultural center in Saga City at 9:50am, June 12.