Interpreting services at no charge for the Deaf community in Kinki region

September 21, 2012

The non-profit organization "The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Independence Life Center" located in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture begins the "personal interpreting project" which will provide free interpreting services to the Deaf communities in Osaka,  Kobe, and Kyoto in October. The interpreting services will include the small party after a marriage ceremony, a party with friends, etc.

Such a project out of the system of administration is nationally new. The organization officials said, "We hope the Deaf community will make use of our project in order to promote their social participation."

The Deaf/hard of hearing person can use the interpreter services by the Government or local governing body. However, such service are usually restricted to a lecture meeting, ceremonial occasions, the procedure of a public office, etc.

Moreover, there are so many restrictions that a personal situation is insufficient, such as even when it is possible at a marriage ceremony, a following party is not accepted.

Free interpreting service was able to launch this time by the support from Kirin Foundation in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, which is available till the end of March, 2013.

Japanese original article:

Hearing picture-story writer tells about his visit to the school for the Deaf

The picture-story about the Deaf children
"Hear the Heart of Fourteen Deaf Children"
September 26, 2012

With soft and warm touch of painting, Tsuchida Yoshiharu-san writes the picture-book in which a lovely child and animal appear.

He is continuing to exchange with the children who live in Yamagata Prefecture where he has made his home, for years. He has written many books based on Yamagata as the stage.

The picture-book series titled "Hear the Heart of Fourteen Deaf Children" (3 volumes, published by PHP Institute Office in 2002) is based on the children of the Yamagata Prefecture Sakata School for the Deaf.

The author was taken by the principal of the elementary school, one of his acquaintances to the Sakata School where the principal worked before. It was also the first time for the author to visit a school for the Deaf.

Tsuchida-san said,  "The teachers were very eager, and I was deeply impressed with a family-like atmosphere and the close relation between the Deaf children and the teachers."

Japanese original article:

New sumo grand champion knows Mongolian sign language

September 23, 2012

The Associated PRESS reported that Mongolian wrestler Harumafuji has been promoted to sumo's highest rank, becoming the 70th grand champion in the history of the sport.

He came to Japan from Mongolia in September, 2000 to play sumo, one of the Japanese traditional sports. Even if exercise was severe, he wanted to prove that he was one of the best sumo wrestlers.

He is the youngest of three brothers, and knows how to sign because the eldest brother is Deaf.

Five years ago, he established the foundation "ABAAZAN" in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, where eight persons with disabilities are making eco-friendly bags and aprons.

English edition:

Japanese edition:

Deaf man expresses a song in sign language

September 25, 2012

Hirahara Keisuke-san (36), the Deaf man who lives in Saga Prefecture in the southern island of Japan, is tackling the "sign language song."

He translates a song into sign language so that it may be easy to transmit the meaning of words rather than expresses the words directly.

"Those who do not know sign language will even enjoy the song in sign language with music. I hope people learn the fun of sign language."

Hirahara-san went to the Saga Prefecture School for the Deaf in Saga City at the beginning. Later, in order to learn how to speak Japanese, he attended the hearing elementary school in his hometown.

After he graduated from the hearing high school, he was spoken to by the Deaf man in the same class by sign language while studying printing technique in the industrial training school in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Hirahara-san hardly used sign language till then. Talking with the hearing people using the spoken language, he had "always felt teased," but know he has come to be happy with the signed communication.

Japanese original article:

Survey on persons with disabilities in the areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake

September 24, 2012

It turned out by the survey of the three prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima) that 1,655 persons with disabilities who owned the disability card fell victim to the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Based on the survey concluded on September 7 of these prefectures, the mortality rate which accounts for the whole possessors of the disability card was 1.5%, about twice of all the residents' mortality rate (0.8%).

The serious issue was clarified on how a person with disability is supported in society at the time of a disaster.

The most casualty count of the disability card possessors at a prefecture level was Miyagi as 1,103 persons, followed by Iwate (436 persons) and Fukushima (116 persons).

In Miyagi the persons with disabilities occupied about 90 percent of the whole prefecture; 519 persons with physical disability, 75 Deaf/hard of hearing, and 69 visual impairment.

Japanese original article:

Work experience program for Deaf students in Osaka Prefecture

NIshida Nao-san (right) learns how to hold a tray as a part of the work experience program at the wedding hall in Osaka.

September 24, 2012

The Junior High School In the Osaka Municipal School for the Deaf in Osaka Prefecture has provided a training program for its students by obtaining cooperation of a bookstore, a convenience store, etc. since about ten years ago.

Although sign language is used at the school, the students learn how to work or meet with people who do not know sign language through the work experience program.

Nishida Nao-san (13) had the training program in the cafe of the wedding hall "PAL Houensaka" near the school using the summer vacation in August. She who uses a hearing-aid can communicate by motion of the mouth and the voice which can be heard slightly.

"Although I was afraid whether I could take communication, as people around me talked slowly and in loud voice, I was able to do well happily," said Nishida-san, "Even if I am Deaf, I know I can do well."

President Nomura Eiji-san (50) of the PAL Houensaka said, "It will be a good stimulus for our employees who work with a Deaf person. We hope to be helpful in philanthropy."

Uehara Akane-sensei  (37), one of the teachers responsible for guidance counseling, said that they hope that the students have a positive image in working with hearing people through the program."

Although the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology does not require the work experience program in the special support schools, it started around in 2000 all over the country as part of integrated study, and it is reportedly carried out widely now.

Japanese original article:

Disability art exhibition base established in Wakayama Prefecture

The art works by the DeafBlind were exhibited in the shopping mall in Wakayama City.

 September 21, 2012

The "Art Support Center RAKU" which exhibits original art works of persons with disabilities opened in the shopping mall in front of JR Wakayama Station in Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture.

The "Mutual Help in City Planning Association" located in the city which advances disability art is managing the center "RAKU."

Shima Kumiko-san, chairman of the association, said, "Although art has power which makes everybody's heart rich, there are few opportunities to get attention in the prefecture. We hope more laborious and good works to be displayed."

The first exhibition focused on about 50 textile works, such as stoles, tapestries, hats made by the members of the atelier "Heart to Hand." The atelier is managed by the Wakayama Prefecture DeafBlind Society.

Japanese original article:

Special lesson on the Peruvian culture for Deaf children in Aichi Prefecture

September 20, 2012

Nakasone Anna-san, the lecturer of the Peruvian national dance, had a special class in the Aichi Prefecture Toyohashi School for the Deaf on September 20. Ten elementary school children learned about ethnic costume, food, etc. of Peru.

Nakasone-san in the ethnic costume explained the gastronomic culture of Peru, traditional textiles, the meaning of the colors of the Peru national flag, etc., using the photographs and the images.

Moreover, there was also dance instruction. The children wore ethnic costume made from the traditional textiles in Peru, such as the best, a skirt, and a poncho, and had stepped on the step joyfully following Nakasone-san and rhythmical music together.

Japanese original article:

Convention for persons with disabilities held in Wakayama Prefecture

September 17, 2012

The Wakayama Prefecture Federation of the Persons with Disabilities which aims at improvement in welfare for persons with disabilities was held the 55th Wakayama Welfare Convention for the Persons with Disabilities in Wakayama City on September 16.

About 500 persons concerned participated. Chairman Yoshida Kiyoshi-san (75) greeted at the opening ceremony, saying "Our organization will strive for a disabled person's independence and promotion of social participation aiming at a disability welfare system suitable for ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."

The meeting group of Deaf/hard of hearing persons, persons with visual impairment, and physically handicapped persons, respectively presented a speech. Also a request for the Prefecture and announcement were made.

Members of the sign language circle performed a signed play.

Japanese original article:

Children with disabilities aim at social participation through a sport

The high school students shed sweat for tug of war.

September 15, 2012

The Akita Special Support School Athletic Meet ("The Challenged Sport Festival"), which aims at the social participation of the children with disabilities through the pleasure of a sport, was opened in the Akita municipal gymnasium, etc. in Akita Prefecture on September 14.

Over 1,000 children and students of 26 schools from the elementary through high school level participated in seven games such as a basketball, soccer, and tug of war, etc., shedding sweat.

Before the games started, the junior high school student from the Prefecture School for the Deaf declared, "We promise to fight fairly so that every of us may shine."

Japanese original article:

National Deaf athletic meet held for the first time in Chiba Prefecture

September 15, 2012

The opening ceremony of the National Deaf Athletic Meet" was held in Chiba Prefecture on September 14. Holding of the event within the prefecture was the first time.

At the opening ceremony, the dance and the Japanese drum by local high school students heaped up the hall.

The National Deaf Athletic Meet is a national conference which also serves to select the Japanese team for the Deaflympics from ten games of baseball, table tennis, volleyball, etc.

About 1500 athletes, and the convention persons concerned and rooters participated in the opening ceremony.

Japanese original article:

Kyoto Prefecture School alumni association opens a print exhibition

September 13, 2012

The work show of the "Kyoto 100 Views," which continued work by the print and printing technique which the high school students of the Kyoto Prefecture School for the Deaf located in Kyoto City once called a silk screen, is held in the National Sign Language Training Center in the city till September 30.

The school alumni association held the exhibition. The students of the old design course began the lesson of Kyoto's 100 views from 1982. They studied the basic to make a silk screen in the first year, and finished several works in 2 or 3 years.

The students reportedly went out for place selection, or visited repeatedly some place also during the long vacation.

The exhibition off campus was also opened in 1987 when the "50 Views" completed, and again in 1993 when the "100 Views" were finished. Then, the works were kept in the school.

The Association Director Hagiwara Makiko-san (63) was glad saying, "All the works are the recollections of our high school days, and the alumni members are happy to see the exhibition."

Japanese original article:

Hearing staff involved in sign language training in Myanmar

September 7, 2012

Ogawa Mitsuko-san has undertaken the sign language instructor/interpreter training project in Myanmar since five years ago.

In Myanmar, Deaf people have a difficult time in social participation, because there is no person able to interpret the sign language, and mutual communication between the Deaf and hearing persons does not often work, either.

Then, Japan International Cooperation Agency started support and dispatched its staff Ogawa-san to Myanmar. She has been advancing activity so that the social participation of the Deaf persons can be carried out.

Ogawa-san said when she was in Myanmar at the beginning, the Deaf persons were unable to take communication with even their family.

Then, she made the singed conversation collection. "I began from the place which I collected the data of signs, analyzed them, photographed each sign, and traced it on a sheet one by one."

The number became 850 sheets of signs for the collection, which helped the Deaf and hearing people communicate better for the first time.

"I want the sign language instructors in Myanmar who are learning now to become a leader who goes to the place where support to Deaf persons is not prudent."

In Myanmar, the first sign language interpreter is going to be born next year.

Japanese original article:

Information booklet on disability issues

The Citizens’ Committee to Eliminate Disqualifying Clauses on Disability has published an information booklet titled "From to Yes" in 2007.

Here is a link in English.(PDF 1,019K).

Ministry of Education changes the conventional policy for children with disabilities

September 5, 2012

There is a policy that the children with disabilities attend a special support school in principle.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will revise it so that these children are allowed to attend ordinary elementary or/and junior high schools.

The ministry will appropriate for the budgetary request of the next fiscal budget to hire more teachers and staff to help the children in study and develop the barrier-free environment in schools.

According to the Ministry, about 85,000 children with disabilities were expected to be enrolled in special support schools in the last fiscal year (about 0.8% of the whole country).

Among these, about 65,000 children attended the special support schools, and the rest participated in the "special support class," exceptionally prepared in elementary and junior high schools, etc.

Japanese original article:

Judgment in braille at court: "blind culture was recognized"

September 7, 2012

The Nagoya District Court responded for the request from Umeo Akemi-san, the totally blind woman who started the civil action, by giving the sentence in braille on September 7.

It met the flow of the improvement of the disability right with internationally increasing opportunity.

However, it is only the 2nd example in a civil action. According to lawyer Takeshita Yoshiki who is totally blind (the Kyoto Bar Association member), the Nagoya High Court gave the Deafblind defendant only the main sentence in braille at the trial to make him understand in 1984, but it was not a formal decision and is said to be expedient.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations adopted in 2006 states about the use of Braille, sign language, etc. in the 21th article. Moreover, simply the 13 article states that "the persons with disability is able to use all the legal proceedings effectively" (judicial right to access).

Although Japan has not ratified the convention, the movement which still accepts the disability right gradually has grown.

Japanese original article:

Training for policemen stationed in a police box through sign-language interpreting in Hokkaido

September 5, 2012

There was training through a sign language interpreter to meet the daily needs of a Deaf person, etc. at the Sapporo Station north entrance police box in Hokkaido Prefecture.

Takahashi Yumiko-san (57), a Deaf woman , visited the police box with the interpreter. She works for the planning office and is a sign language lecturer in Sapporo City in the prefecture.

By assumption that she lost the wallet at the airport, Takahashi-san explained to the policeman about how she lost it, etc., and then answered the questions from the policeman in sign language.

One of the policemen who participated said, "I thought that it was difficult to tell something to check by sign language. I would prefer written communication for an actual case, but I will try to ask more details to make the Deaf visitor feel comfortable."

Japanese original article:

Deaf children enjoy learning the "Railroad City" history

The children observe the model of old Nogata Station.

September 7, 2012

About 130 third graders of Kanda Elementary School and the Nogata School for the Deaf, both located in Nogata-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture in a southern island of Japan, visited the "railroad and train club" in the city, and enjoyed the model of the railroad and the steam locomotive.

The children were picked up at each school by the bus manufactured in 1986 which had run with a boarded retro atmosphere around in the city.

In front of the large-sized model of Nogata Station, the children learned that the rail yard in Nogata is still used even the vehicles were changed from the diesel locomotive and the old train.

Japanese original article:

Education Board to close two schools for the deaf in Hokkaido Prefecture in 2014

September 5, 2012

The Hokkaido Education Board meeting was held on September 4, and the board opted for the public high school layout planning in the 2013-15 fiscal year.

In the plan of a special support school, the Otaru School for the Deaf and the Kushiro School for the Deaf in the spring of 2014. Both have ten or less students, respectively.
The Otaru School will be unified to the Sapporo School for the Deaf in the prefecture, and the Kushiro School will be changed to the Deaf Education Department in the new special support school which will be established in Kushiro city.

Japanese original article:

Deaf students practice comic story in sign language

Ayagaki Aoi-san practices a comic story telling at the Kumamoto School for the Deaf.
(photo :

September 3, 2012

The sign language comic storytelling club of the Kumamoto School for the Deaf, located in Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture in the southern island of Japan, is a unique group in the whole country continuing activity.

A sign language comic story telling was invented by the 4th generation Katsura Fukudanji (71), the director of a Kansai Rakugo Association who was temporarily unable speak because of the illness of a throat in the 1970s. It has the feature to express classical rakugo (comic story) using every part of the whole body, which was reportedly spread nationally with more awareness of sign language.

The sign language comic storytelling club was formed at Kumamato School in 2006. Eight club members from junior high school to advance course level strive for practice once per week with DVD at reference, in which the professional comic storyteller tackled the sign language comic story.

Ayagaki Aoi-san, a high school junior, has begun the sign language comic story when she was a junior high school student. She said, "it is difficult for me to express joy, anger, humor and pathos only with facial expression, without using the language. The members and my teacher check my performance repeatedly so that the audience understands it perfectly."

Since Iido Keiko-sensei, an advisory teacher, interprets using a microphone while a member performs a comic story in the hall, those who do not know sign language can also understand it.

These days, public requests from some of the people who saw performances by the storytelling club at the school cultural festival, etc., are increasing.

Japanese original aritcle:

Company donates the proceeds from its charity to school for the Deaf

September 4, 2012

A press release dated of August 31 from The AXA Life Japan, an insurance company, it conducted the "Breakfast Charity" from June through August this year, and donated a total of 654,462 yen which was added the donation of the same amount from the company to the Meisei-Gakuen School for the Deaf, a private school for the Deaf in Tokyo.

The "Breakfast Charity" is the charity event which carries out charity sale of the breakfast for the employees, aiming to support an organization by deducting the cost price. It has been held every year since 2008.

Approximately 1,300 employees in the AXA Life Japan head office and about 40 operation branches across the country participated this year.

Meisei-Gakuen School for the Deaf is the first school in Japan to introduce the bilingual education for Deaf children with Japanese Sign Language as the first language and written Japanese as the second.

One of the Deaf workers employed by the AXA Life Japan introduced the school for the charity project in 2008.

Japanese original article:

Meisei-gakuen School for the Deaf official website:

Deaf Support Center established in Nara Prefecture

A DVD library and a chatting space are in the center.

September 2, 2012

The Nara Prefecture Deaf Support Center was established in the prefecture social welfare center in Kashihara city on September 1.

The sign language interpreter is full-time employed, ready to respond to consultation with a deaf visitor on personal problems.

The Deaf Support Center offers a space for the exchange with the residents, or a place for sign language interpreting training. It also lends out the movie subtitled and about 2,000 DVDs converted from TV programs.

According to Murakami Takeshi-san (56), chairman of the Prefecture Association of the Deaf which manages the new center, the prefecture has about 6,000 Deaf persons.

He says, "Because there was no counselor for the Deaf in nearby cities, towns and villages, many Deaf persons had suffered troubles. We would like to use this center for broad uses, such as consultation, information dissemination, training, etc."

Opening time:  9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., weekdays.

Japanese original article:

Deaf persons participate in a comprehensive disaster-preparedness drill


September 2, 2012

On September 1, a "national disaster drill day," Hiroshima Prefecture and Fukuyama city, etc. performed the comprehensive disaster-preparedness drill in the dry riverbed of the Ashida River.

Sixteen Deaf group members for the first time participated in the event.

On the assumption that magnitude 9.0 which is the "Nankai Trough" is expected to hit the city, and the tsunami of 3.3 meters in height comes, a shelter was set up at the elementary school.

In the shelter, people gathered one after another, and distributed emergency assistance goods, cooked rice, etc. which were provided.

The Deaf members put and showed the panel written "I am injured", "Please call for emergency", etc. at the entrance of the shelter, conveying the situation smoothly.

One of the Deaf participants said, "there is a case where a Deaf person does not notice disaster radio but refuge is overdue. We want the local administration to also examine the mechanism of directing an evacuation order with more visible information."

Japanese original article:

ATM Japan develops the system for the Deaf which can communicate on ATM screen

August 29, 2012

When ATM Japan, Co., located in Minato-ku, Tokyo, developed the system which makes conversation possible through a character on the monitoring screen of an automatic teller machine (ATM).

A Deaf/hard of hearing person can communicate with the person in charge of a financial institution with the use of characters in an unmanned store.

Displaying the contents of an inquiry assumed beforehand on the monitoring screen of ATM, a user creates a message combining the words.

When there are no contents to ask on the screen, a message can be created with the use of keyboard.

The company did trial production development of the type which combined the developed system and radio frequency identification (RFID), too.

With the RFID antenna installed in the ceiling of the position where the ATM was set, when a user who has a card for RFID approaches the ATM, its monitoring screen changes automatically.

The button for a "spoken language" and "sign language", respectively, is displayed on the ATM screen. When a Deaf user selects the button "sign language", a second display changes to video and his communication in sign language with the operator becomes possible.

Sign language interpreter works at a reception desk in the town office

Shirakabe Yuriko-san, a sign language interpreter, works at the desk (center).

August 31, 2012

Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi in Yamanashi Prefecture has stationed the certified sign language interpreter at the reception desk in the town office.

Until now the town clerk corresponded ineffectively with the Deaf residents by writing, and the town office has tried to improve the environment so that the accuracy of communication should be taken in order to make the Deaf residents feel easily when come to the office.

Shirakabe Yuriko-san (46), a resident in the town who is a certified sign language interpreter, was employed as the personnel in July. The town plans to dispatch her to an event or a lecture meeting in the future.

According to the prefecture welfare division for persons with disabilities, the sign language interpreters are stationed in five cities, such as Kofu, Fuji Yoshida, Minami-Alp.

Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi has 60  Deaf persons who own the physically handicapped person's card.

Japanese original article:

Disaster manual for the Deaf community developed

August 29, 2012

The interested organizations in Kure-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture are working on a manual on how a Deaf person and a supporter should act and cope when disaster occurs.

It is the activity which responded to that some Deaf persons died since audio information failed them in the Great East Japan Earthquake.

About 200 copies for the Deaf community and about 1000 copies for welfare commissioners or supporters will be published for distributing by February next year, respectively.

The notes at the time of a disaster are described for the Deaf persons, and an urgent conversation card is also attached in the manual.

For those supporters, the manual also includes the method of writing, or sign language explained in addition to the issues a Deaf person is expected to face at the time of a disaster.

The mortality rate of the Deaf person of the Great East Japan Earthquake is supposed to be twice the whole mortality rate.

Japanese original article:

City forgets using emergency texting system for evacuation preparation due to heavy rain

August 24, 2012

Heavy rain hit every place in Hiroshima Prefecture under the influence of an active seasonal rain front on July 6-7.

Hiroshima Prefecture Office warned the local communities to watch landslide disaster. Seven houses were at flood under a floor, and 29 places were damaged as a mudslide, etc.

Although the Fukuyama City in the prefecture warned about 1,000 households for evacuation preparation at 4:30 a.m. on July 7, they forgot the texting delivery of disaster prevention, which became clear by a Deaf organization.

There was reportedly no damage caused by evacuation delay. The city risk management disaster prevention division said that the adjustment of connection was insufficient. "We will try not to make such a mistake again by making the check list for information dissemination from now on."

Japanese original article: