Printing company creates conversation tool for the Deaf

The persons concerned show a communication card unfolded (left).

September 27, 2013 
Kasahara Printing, Co. of Isehara-shi and the design project Neo of Atsugi-shi, in  Kanagawa Prefecture presented to Isehara-shi 300 copies of a tool called "Communication Card" on September 19.

They together manufactured the "Communication Card" from April for the smooth communication between the Deaf and hearing.

The city plans to distribute the card to a local association of the Deaf, a fire department, a welfare commissioner, a childcare commissioner, etc.

The manufacturers received cooperation of the city welfare division for persons with disabilities in production of the card, and have also taken in an opinion from a sign language interpreter, etc.

Moreover, they distributed the trial product in the comprehensive disaster drill on August 24, and had feedback from the participants including the Deaf before the completion of the card.

When opened, the train-pass-sized card (photo) is unfolded to A3-size. The cover sheet of the card contains items required for an emergency, and communication items required for everyday life. The back sheet has not only the Japanese fingerspelling chart but also fingerspelled sentences such as "Help me,"  "Thank you," etc.

Japanese source:

Deaf students make a chair to be put in Ohara Museum of Art in Okayama Prefecture

The students are making a chair to be used in Ohara MUseum.


The bench or chair made by deaf students will be installed in Ohara Museum of Art located at Kurashiki-shi in the prefecture. 

Five high school seniors in the industrial craft course of the Okayama Prefecture Okayama School for the Deaf in Okayama-shi, Okayama Prefecture are making a bench or chair since April, which are due to be used in an exhibition room, a passage, etc. of the art museum.

According to the museum staff, there has been a problem to move the existing bench when holding a concert, etc. in an exhibition room because they are heavy and large.

While they were considering a purchase for replacement, a group of deaf students visited the museum as an extracurricular study in February and learned it and offered donation.

The five students made ten trial products, and will show these to the person in charge of the museum in October for a final check. Then they are going to extract to 5 pieces, to complete them before presenting in January, next year.

Japanese source:

Helen Keller: Her first visit to Japan in 1937

 Helen and her group welcomed in Tokyo 

Helen and Polly in a kimono

Helen Keller visited Japan three times in her lifetime: in 1937, 1948 and 1955. Here is an account of her first Japan visit.

Anne Sullivan, who educated and supported Helen Keller, passed away on October 20, 1936. Although Helen was requested from Takeo Iwahashi (岩橋武夫: 1898 - 1954) to visit Japan, she was hesitating to accept it for the reason Sullivan was on a sickbed. Just before passing away, Sullivan expressed dying words as "You should go to Japan."

Iwahashi, who became visually impaired in the early childhood, visited Helen Keller's house on December 18, 1934, and requested her to make an appeal to form a support organization for people with disabilities including the blind in Japan.

(In 1935, an organization, "The Lighthouse," for Braille publications was established and Iwahashi became chairman of the board of directors of the Lighthouse).

Aboard the Asama-maru, a passenger liner, with Polly Thompson, Helen arrived on April 15, 1937 at the Yokohama harbor carrying the correspondence from President Roosevelt as a "Japan-U.S. goodwill ambassador.

Helen and Polly went to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden immediately, and were received in audience by Emperor Showa at the cherry blossom viewing party held then.

On April 17, Helen met in Nakamura Hisako (中村久子: 1897 - 1968), aged 41, who was called "Japanese Helen Keller," at Tokyo Hibiya Kokaido Public Hall.
She was a performance entertainer from the Meiji era through the Showa era, and a writer. She led the life independent in spite of a physical handicap: both hands and both feet were cut off.

Nakamura presented the Japanese doll to Helen that was made with the use of her mouth. Helen praised Nakamura for "Being a person unhappier than I and a person greater than I."

Helen went to Osaka on April 19 and Saitama on April 30. In May she traveled many places one after another in Japan. Her visit schedule was overly tight, and she received a passionate welcome in various places and had managed the lecture energetically.

Helen loved a dog and was very moved with the true story about the faithful Akita dog named Hachi-ko that continued waiting for the master at the station in Shibuya after its owner college professor passed away. Helen asked for an Akita during the visit, and two dogs were presented later.

Helen met important people in the field of disabilities,  visited schools for the Blind and Deaf including the Tokyo School for the Blind (currently University of Tsukuba School for the Blind), and lectured many times which were attended by teachers and staff from many schools of the Blind and Deaf across Japan .

At the time of this visit in Japan, the wallet has been stolen in the passenger liner waiting room of the Yokohama harbor. The newspaper reported it, which brought cash to Helen from a number of people in the whole country. The cash amounted to ten or more times of the cash stolen when Helen left Japan.

Because fighting broke out between Japan and China on July 7, which escalated to full scale war near the end of the month (the Lukow-kiao incident), Helen's plan to visit China was cancelled on Iwahashi's advice, and she went back home to the United States aboard the Chichibu-maru, a passenger liner, from the Yokohama harbor hurriedly on August 10.

Iwahashi accompanied Helen and Polly throughout the visit as an interpreter.


- English

The Radical Lives of Helen Keller

The incredible Dog

Actress reads a picture-book with rich emotion

Nakai Kie (right) reads a picture-book following to music, mixing sign language in front of the large book. 

September 24, 2013

In the town center at Kenbuchi-cho, Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, the "story-telling group for adults and children" which an actress Nakai Kie (中井貴恵) serves as a leader performed reading the picture-book on September 22.

The feature of the gathering is the use of unique technique that the group reads a picture-book with music.

Mixing sign language also, Nakai put on the tone of the piano which a member plays, a koto, and a shakuhachi, while she gave a reading with rich emotion.

About 250 persons visited from the outside of a neighborhood and listened attentively to the performance.

Japanese source:

Move for establishment of information center for the Deaf in Akita Prefecture

The Akita Prefecture Welfare Convention in which 200 persons participated and promoted exchange.

September 23, 2013

The Akita Prefecture Welfare Convention was held in the citizen exchange study center at Yuri-Honjo-shi in the prefecture, a part of northeastern Japan, on September 22.

The convention was sponsored by the Prefecture Association of the Deaf, which about 200 Deaf persons and supporters attended from every place within the prefecture.

In order that a Deaf person might live in comfort, it was decided that movement should be developed towards installation of the information dissemination institution which trains and dispatches a sign-language interpreting care taker, and offers consultation support, etc.

Japanese source:

Alarms placed wrongly in Deaf school in Tokyo

The Metropolitan Central School for the Deaf in Suginami-ku, Tokyo
September 21, 2013

The Tokyo Audit Secretariat is required to audit the Tokyo enterprises every year.

They published the audit report on the enterprises in the 2012 fiscal year the other day.

According to the report, in the Metropolitan Central School for the Deaf in Suginami-ku, Tokyo, some alarms for emergency, such as an outbreak of a fire or invasion of a suspicious person, were placed in the position, such as right above the student or back of a desk, which are invisible to the students.

Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education said they changed the position of the alarms in a right way.

Japanese source:

Event: Meeting related to national movement for sign language ordinance to be held in Tokyo

The ordinance of a sign language will be enacted in October in Tottori Prefecture, and next year in Ishikari-shi in Hokkaido.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf will hold a meeting on sign language ordinance on November 22, 2013. Friday, 19:00-21:00 at Akihabara in Tokyo.

In the event, tentatively called "The sign language ordinance and a national movement about the ordinance/law," the Tottori governor and the Ishikari mayor will speak about the cause which they thought of  enactment of an ordinance, and the reaction of the people of the prefecture and citizens, respectively.

Moreover, the lawmaker of Hakusan-shi, Ishikawa Prefecture who submitted the written opinion of sign language law establishment, and a Diet member also will participate in discussion which each will  express an opinion about the state of a future sign language law.

Admission is free.

Japanese source:

National Deaf Athletic Meet Opens in Toyama Prefecture

September 13, 2013 

The opening ceremony was held for the 47th Annual National Deaf Athletic Meet in Toyama-shi, Toyama Prefecture on September 13, and 500 athletes and others gathered from 47 all prefectures.

It was the first holding in the prefecture.

The two-day event is taking place in four cities, starting on September 14 with ten items, such as baseball, table tennis, volleyball, etc., and a total number of 1,400 persons will compete.

Japanese source:

Public broadcasting company opens its website to evaluate "Sign Language CG"

The evaluation screen of Sign Language CG

"NHK Sign Language CG" top page

September 5, 2013

NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai: Japan Broadcasting Corporation) opened the website for evaluating the "Sign Language CG" animated by computer graphics on September 5.

As part of research and development of the technology which generates Sign Language CG automatically, NHK has recorded a sign language interpreter's bodily motion with motion capture technology, and collected about 7,000 words for Sign Language CG.

This time, the system which can search and display "Sign Language CG" from a Japanese word was developed.

In order to obtain feedback or an opinion on intelligibility, etc. from a sign language user, This system was opened to the public on the NHK website (

Japanese source:

Meeting held for the Deaf to learn emergency reporting system in Kanagawa Prefecture

The operation method of the mobile phone was explained using the large-sized screen.

September 8, 2013

The lecture meeting of the emergency reporting system using the mobile phone, etc. which were developed for the Deaf was held in the Kanagawa Prefecture Nakahara police station on September 7.

About 70 Deaf persons in the city were present.

The "Emergency 1-1-0 system by e-mail" which the Kanagawa Prefecture Police Department began using ten years ago was introduced.

The participants learned the procedure which tells the position of the spot by the global positioning system (GPS) of a terminal, or gives the information during the occurrence time of an accident, etc. from the specified page on the network.

Unlike the emergency 1-1-0 system of the police, a staff from the Kawasaki-shi Fire Department explained that "Kawasaki WEB 1-1-9" would need advanced registration, etc.

He used illustrated instructions, telling when the ambulance or the fire truck was called from the smart phone, etc., the vehicles which are the nearest to where your are will be instructed to come quickly, etc.

Related links:
Emergency call system for the Deaf through a smart phone

Local city office in Ehime Prefecture starts personnel training in sign language

A city employee (second from right) challenges conversation with the person with headphone on who acts a Deaf visitor (second from left).

September 5, 2013

The Iyo-shi office in Ehime Prefecture in western Japan, aiming at more understanding deafness, started the personnel training that they learn the basic sign language so that they could receive the Deaf visitor in the city office.

At the workshop held in the old civic hall, about 20 office workers learned the features of deafness and how to communicate with gesture.

The city employees from each division, such as welfare, and education, participate in the workshop a total of 4 times by cooperation of the Prefecture Association of the Deaf by the end of September.

Japanese source:

Project on sign language recognition system launched

September 4, 2013

According to the press release, Mizuho Information & Research Institute, Inc. and Chiba University started a project related to the "sign language recognition system".

The commercial motion sensor device will be used to read sign language, which automatically change into Japanese text.

The system aims at the utilization in 2014.

The motion sensor device such as Kinect is used to recognize a motion of a signer's wrist and an elbow.

As compared with the feature data for every word registered beforehand, the meaning of a word is presumed automatically, and a text is displayed in real time on the display.

Japanese source:

English article: 'Last A-bomb Storyteller' fights long battle for hearing impaired victims

Yoshigami Iwao, 79, tells about deaf victims of the atomic bomb during at the memorial ceremony in Hiroshima.
Aug. 7, 2013

Mainichi Online English News reports on the last Deaf A-bomb storyteller in Japan.

Iwao Yoshigami, the "last of the A-bomb storytellers" in the deaf community stood before the low stone monument, telling those gathered for a memorial ceremony that 47 more deaf victims of the atomic bomb have been confirmed.{%2210151904432169703%22%3A409904945786666}&action_type_map={%2210151904432169703%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&action_ref_map={%2210151904432169703%22%3A%22s%3DshowShareBarUI%3Ap%3Dfacebook-like%22}

Sign language interpreter appeals for support to the Deaf at lecture meeting in Tokyo

Shoji Yoko talks about support of the Deaf in case of an earthquake disaster.

September 2, 2013

The lecture meeting about the Deaf support in case of an earthquake disaster was held in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo on September 1.

Over 80 people participated including Deaf residents and members of the sign language circle which sponsored event.

The lecturer was Shoji Yoko (庄子陽子), 37, who is a certified sign language interpreter and works as the director of the Information Support Center for Deaf Disaster Victims in Miyagi Prefecture.

She spoke on her experience with the disaster support activity at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, with some instances of what issues the Deaf victims faced: The audio disaster alert system was not accessible at all, few opportunity to get information or communicate in sign language in a shelter or a makeshift house which would accumulate stress on the Deaf.

Shoji appealed by saying: "You cannot do anything in emergency when you cannot do it at time of peace, either. it is important for every one to be able to do what or to think always." 

Japanese source:

Regional conference for DeafBlind to take place in Tottori Prefecture in November

Organizing committee chairman Muraoka (second from right) explains the outline of the convention, etc. to Governor Hirai in sign language, which is interpreted simultaneously.

September 1, 2013

There are about 20,000 DeafBlind persons in Japan, and it is estimated 100 in Tottori Prefecture, one of the prefectures in Shikoku Region. However, the actual situation of the DeafBlind has not been grasped.

The "19th Chugoku-Shikoku Region Convention of the DeafBlind" is due to be held in Yonago-shi in Tottori Prefecture in November.

The persons concerned in the prefecture are saying, "We would like to make the convention an opportunity for the DeafBlind who tend to be isolate to encourage social participation and to extend the circle of exchange and support for them."

Japanese source:

Petition for captioning submitted to theme park USJ in Osaka

September 1, 2013

A group of eleven persons including the staff of a non-profit organization LIC located in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture visited the theme park "Universal Studios Japan" in Osaka, and submitted the petition of 5294 persons who signed up asking for caption to an attraction in the USJ.

Neither direct negotiation was realized, nor response was available from USJ then. Even the interview with USJ was not possible.

A staff member of the non profit organization explained, "although we did not want to carry out signature activities in fact, even negotiation was not realized but it was unavoidable. We will once stop this activity as it is the limit that we can do."

On the other hand, the USJ public relations office reportedly comments, "We would like to bring the request up in our company."

Japanese source:

Related link:
Petition for caption at USJ amusement in Hyogo Prefecture

Deaf residents participate in comprehensive disaster-preparedness drill in Kanagawa Prefecture

The residents pump up groundwater to establish an emergency water supply base.

September 1, 2013

Prior to the "Disaster Drill Day" on September 1,  Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture arranged the city comprehensive disaster preparedness drill on August 31.

About 1,400 disaster prevention members concerned and local residents participated in the annual event.

Some participants established the water supply base, or the Deaf persons, mixed with hearing participants, experienced the shelter. It was more practical training, prepared for the large-scale disaster.

This time the Deaf persons and the members of the sign language circle both acted in a group with other participants for the first time.

"The Deaf person are always left behind because of audio information and tends to be isolated. This event offers the opportunity for Deaf persons to let other hearing people know that they live in the same area."

A Deaf woman in her 60's was relieved, saying, "I met some participants who said they knew sign language. Also there was much training using a character or a picture, which was easy for me to understand."

Japanese source:

National High School Signed Speech Contest held in Tokyo

Princess Kiko (second from right), the wife of Prince Akishino, and her daughter Princess Mako (right) look at panel exhibition on a history of the contest.

August 31, 2013

The 30th National High School Signed Speech Contest was held in Tokyo on August 31, sponsored by Japanese Federation of the Deaf, the Asahi Shimbun welfare culture corporation, the Asahi Shimbun Publishing, etc.

Yamauchi Naho (山内菜帆), a sophomore of Shizuoka Prefecture Numazu West High School, won the first place.

She told about her experience with sign language. She learned about the language when she was unable hear temporarily. "In order to build true barrier-free society, I would like to contribute."

Princess Kiko, the wife of Prince Akishino,  was present with the eldest daughter, Mako.

Princess Kiko made a speech with sign language at the opening ceremony, "I hope for an understanding the life of Deaf people or sign language deeply and the society where everybody can live richly."

Japanese source:

Call for Deaf people to test telecommunication service

August 29, 2013

Nippon Foundation aims at the spread of "telephone relay service" for the Deaf hand hard of hearing, looking for 500 persons who are Deaf and hard of hearing to check the service from September 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.

The service has two kinds: the video relay service using sign language with a TV phone, and the "chat relay service" which uses writing, etc. Either or both of them can be applied for monitoring.

Fee of the relay service will be covered by the foundation, except the communication fee containing a terminal equipment and the charge of the Internet which is paid by a user.

Japanese source:

Emergency call system for the Deaf through a smart phone

The emergency call system for the Deaf/deaf simply using a smart phone

August 29, 2013
The new system "Web 119" that the Deaf/deaf person uses the emergency call 1-1-9 quickly through a smart phone in case of a sudden illness or a fire attracts attention of fire-fighting headquarters all over the country.

It not only the Deaf/deaf can report by touching a screen a fewl times, but also the fire department can be promptly mobilized at the spot based on the location information on the smart phone.

About ten fire-fighting headquarters have already adopted the system mainly in Kanto region where Tokyo, Yokohama, and other cities are located.

Japanese source:

Deaf mixed martial arts group officially formed


August 30, 2013

Establishment of the mixed martial arts for the Deaf "JAPAN-DMC" was announced on August 28.

A former yokozuna (Sumo's grand champion) Akebono Taro, 44, was a chief advisor for the group..

DMC (Deaf Mixed martial arts Championship) has held three match games since September, 2012 in Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi. 
In order to improve the environment where a Deaf wrestler plays a game with a hearing opponent, DMC needed to be systematized through cooperation of the CMA mixed-martial-arts league which sponsors mixed martial arts "Gladiator" and others.

DMC will make the place where the Deaf wrestlers can practice without worry.

Japanese source:

Related link:
Tournament for world championship of mixed martial-arts lightweight division held in Osaka

High school student sues city office in Fukuoka Prefecture for her deafness by bullying

August 27, 2013

Although a high school freshman, 15, was bullied by her classmates repeatedly during her junior high school days in Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, the school didn't take any action to stop bullying. So she lost hearing as a psychogenic disorder.

She filed the lawsuit which asks the city for 20 million yen reparations at the Fukuoka District Court Yanagawa Branch on August 26.

According to the complaint, the student received bullying from immediately after the entrance at the school in April, 2010.

She tended to be absent since the third term, and became hearing loss, so she was unable to follow the spoken conversation in October, 2012.

Japanese source: