Study session held to discuss the issues on Deaf victims in disaster

February 19, 2012

The study session on the measures for the Deaf victims against calamities was held in Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki Prefecture in the southern island of Japan (Kyushu) on February 19. The Deaf disaster victims tend to fail in getting important information, including an alarm etc., at the time of an earthquake or the occurrence of tsunami.

The Deaf persons and supporters from three prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima) hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake told experiences, which the participants discussed for the necessary measures.

The Miyagi Prefecture Office arranged the study session, cosponsored by the Prefecture Association of the Deaf. About 200 Deaf persons, families and sign language interpreters, and cities and towns in charge of welfare participated.

Vice-Chairman Takashima Sachiko of the Iwate Prefecture Association of the Deaf said that the information on water, food, etc. did not get across to the Deaf evacuees in the shelter, who had a hard time then. She said, "Because the surrounding people do not notice that there is a Deaf person nearby, their support to him/her is always delayed. So it is vital for the Deaf to tell people about yourself for help."

On the other hand, Shoji Youko of the Great East Japan Earthquake Deaf relief Miyagi headquarters pointed out, "There was no list of names because of the personal information protection law, and it is hard to check Deaf disaster victims' safety immediately."

Saito Senei, a staff of the Fukushima Association of the Deaf mentioned the nuclear power plant disaster, "the information on the plant situation changed one after another, and we were unable to find which information was true to tell the Deaf community, either. Since a support system also varies with areas, in order to offer required support, how to connect a prefecture and cities, towns and villages must be discussed."

They emphasized the importance of the development of a network.

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