Deaf woman appointed as new principal of private school for the Deaf in Tokyo

Kaya Yoko becomes the principal of the Meisei Gakuen School in April.

May 14, 2013

The Deaf woman, Kaya* Yoko* (榧 陽子), 45, was appointed to be the principal of the "Meisei Gakuen" School located in Tokyo in April. The school for the Deaf is the first private school in the whole country that teaches Deaf children and students by sign language as their first language.

Kaya, born Deaf, received the lesson by the "oral method" in her school days as sign language was forbidden then because it would hinder Japanese language acquisition that many schools believed.

But, the oral method didn't help her understand any spoken communication. Kaya remembers saying, "I behaved as if I understood what the teacher said in many cases, which was much stress on me."

After she studied mathematics in the University of Tsukuba, she went to the graduate school, where she majored in overseas deaf education as she wanted sign language to be used in a school for the Deaf in the future.

Kaya had an opportunity to visit the U.S. to observe Deaf education, and saw the Deaf students using sign language at school with her own eyes.

She started the free school with friends to spread the "bilingual deaf education" which Japanese sign language is the first language and Japanese as the 2nd language for reading and writing. Later she also exerted herself for birth of the "Meisei Gakuen" School in 2008, making herself a vice-principal.

Currently, 58 children and students from preschool through junior high school are attending. One of them even commutes from Shizuoka Prefecture by a bullet train, "Shinkansen."

Kaya says, "If Japanese sign language is used, the Deaf children can support deep thinking and will lead also to self-confidence. I would like to value the dream and hope of every child and to bring up them in order to survive with confidence."

Japanese source:

The Japanese name is usually in order: one's last name comes first, and then the first name comes next.

Related link:

Deaf woman becomes principal of school for the Deaf in Tokyo

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