Japanese sign language selected as "indispensable language" in university in Hyogo Prefecture

The Japanese sign language course is set up as a special subject
(photo: http://www.unic.or.jp/)

December 5, 2013

Japanese sign language has been introduced as one of indispensable language arts, besides English as indispensable, French, German, Chinese, etc., in the Human Welfare Faculty at Kwansei Gakuin University located in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture.

Although the introduction of JSL is almost unparalleled as a university, together with an idea called the "comprehensiveness" and the "diversity" as the policies of the faculty, it was backed up by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that positions sign language as language.

Moreover, when JSL and "Deaf culture" were taken up as a special subject in the department of sociology and social welfare before the Human Welfare Faculty which was formed in 2008, these subjects were so popular among the students that many of them were positive to introduction of the JSL course.

Professor Matsuoka Katsuhisa (松岡克尚) of the current faculty who is Deaf emphasizes, "I expect each student to learn by studying sign language that rich diversity is there rather as this Japanese society has never dyed in a single lifestyle, culture, and world knowledge."

The formation of a teaching team was an issue in the JSL introduction class. Although it was an ideal form of the "Deaf" person as a lecturer skilled in a JSL teaching method, combining with the "hearing" person who studied JSL specially, it was not easy to find such people suitable to such conditions.

Fortunately, due to the support of the people concerned, a sign language interpreter and a "Deaf" (native signer) lecturer were hired, and their zeal prepared the JSL course as scheduled.

As a ripple effect to the students, Prof. Matsuoka is looking in this way. "In various scenes, each student tells that their view broadens. The respectful attitude toward JSL, Deaf people and Deaf culture will expand more on equal terms with the right knowledge.

"I would like to regard the JSL course offered in this faculty would be greatly significant when the planted seed of the JSL course "blooms" in society."

How do the students utilize JSL in future? Since the JSL course is only good for as short as two years, there is surely a limit. However, some students wish to still continue the study of sign language further, some also aim at becoming a sign language interpreter in the future, some wish to get training as a social worker at an "institution" for the Deaf and persons with multiple handicaps , etc., or some want to take up the occupation in connection with sign language in a certain form.

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