Opinion: Charge of video remote interpreting should be shared by all the telephone users

November 22, 2013

Excerpted from the post by Sasagawa Yohei (笹川陽平), president of Nippon Foundation, a public incorporated foundation.

The UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities adopted in 2006 requests for the measure to secure the opportunity for a person with disability to use a telecommunications service.

Also the revised Disabled Persons' Fundamental Law in Japan has appealed for improvement of convenience for a person with disability in smooth communication with others.

After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Nippon Foundation started a video remote interpreting service as an experiment, tackling a telephone relay service mainly in the earthquake-hit prefectures including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

As a result, 302 persons registered for the service with 5,700 cases for two years by September, this year.

One person used nearly an average of 20 times; the urgent inquiry to the emergency contact to the school or hospital due to a child's illness and an injury, the consumer credit company at the time of card loss, etc. The daily situation where a Deaf person needed a telephone actually increased; the needs of the telephone was very high.

About three companies are currently working on a VRI service. Such a service will cost more than 300 yen the charge for interpreting per time.

The universal service system in Japan collects three yen one time regardless of fixation or a cellular phone for maintenance of a public telephone and an emergency telephone. When the system started in 2006, it was 7 yen one time, and later 8 yen. However, reduction in a public telephone, etc. caused less than half of the peak now. 

Telecommunications Business Law prescribes the institutional meaning "Offer should be secured universally in Japan as a whole." Yet, it is a view of a public office that "universally" means an area, and that it is difficult to apply to specific groups, such as persons with disability.


Japanese source:

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