Deaf person becomes the first lay judge in Aomori Prefecture

 March 27, 2013

At the lay judge trial of the injury resulting from rape on which judgment was given in the Aomori District Court on the morning of March 26, the Deaf man in his 50's acted as the lay judge for the first time in Aomori Prefecture.

He participated in discussions and a trial through sign-language interpreting, meanwhile prosecutors and the defense counsel also talked slowly, etc.

The Deaf man said at the press conference after judgment, "I did not want to do not much at first, but I as a Deaf person got the opportunity to have social participation and was glad about what I did."

He also mentioned, "A legal term completely differs from daily conversation in sign language. I read and studied the sign language related to a trial term in advance. "

Japanese source:

Deaf children make picture-book about hearing loss

Higashionna Mari (left) and Yokoda Maika show the picture book about hearing loss.

March 27, 2013

Higashionna Mari, a 6th grader, and Yokoda Maika, a 5th grader, go to the class for children with hearing loss in the Uruma-shi Inami elementary school located in Okinawa Prefecture.

They made a picture-book, writing honestly about their hearing loss and their problems in school life for more understanding of deafness.

Both the girls have cochlea implanted, had tried to hide it with hair and disliked their teacher using sign language to tell the contents of the lecture in the morning assembly.

However, while learning more about deafness and continuing practice of pronunciation, the girls came to accept their disability.

Japanese source:

Deaf gold medalist gives a lecture in Shiga Prefecture

March 25, 2013

Morimoto Masatoshi, 27, won the gold medal in the hammer throw at Deaflympics opened in Taipei in 2009. He gave a lecture in Otsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto on March 24.

The event was planned by the sign language circle of the city. Morimoto talked about his life and sports, focusing on the support from people and the encounter which changed his life.

He was born deaf and attended the Shiga Prefecture School for the Deaf starting at the age of three. He played an active part in the boy baseball team in the area and took an entrance examination for the hearing high school aiming at Koshien where the chosen high school baseball teams compete for the victory every year.

He didn't make it and was admitted to the Shiga Prefecture High School for the Deaf in disappointment. He was recommended the hammer throw from his teacher and became interested in it, "because distance will be extended if he practices every day".

Deaflympics is not much known. Morimoto is anxious that not many Deaf people know about it. He says, "Also in order to give the Deaf children hope in future, I would like to tell them how wonderful Deaflympics is."

Japanese source:


Newly published book on the origin of language written by Deaf person

 March 23, 2013

The watershed of man and an animal is language. A new book entitled "the Origin of Language seen from sign language" was recently published.

Takada Eiichi wrote the book, attempting to challenge a grand riddle:  Why, when, where and how did the human being who evolved from the original anthropoid gained a language?

Table of contents:
Part I: Sign language (the origin of Japanese sign language/the reproduction of sign language/ international language)
Part II: Origin of Language (Language Origin Theory/Birthplace of Human Beings/Cave Mural Painting/Egypt/Hieroglyph)  
Part III: Round-table Discussion on Dialog between Sign Language and Spoken Language

Author profile:
Takada Eiichi was born in Kyoto on February 5, 1937. He lost hearing at the age of eight and was transferred to the Kyoto Prefecture School for the Deaf from a hearing elementary school. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University with major in science and engineering in 1960, he was hired by Kyoto City until March, 1992 when he retired. He is currently president of the Kyoto Association of the Deaf and Speech Impaired, Inc. In  April, 2002 he became executive director of the National Sign Language and Training Center, Inc (NSLTC) and also the head of the Japanese research institute on Sign Language under NSLTC.

Japanese source:

Deaf Association holds event for more understanding of sign language in Hokkaido

The residents deepen an understanding to sign language by the experience program.

March 12, 2013

The 33rd meeting for the Muroran residents to understand sign language better, which the Hokkaido Prefecture Muroran Association of the Deaf, etc. sponsored, was held on March 10.

A total of 58 people including the local residents and Deaf persons participated, and promoted exchange themselves.

The program for an experience and learning sign language was provided with spoken Japanese, sign language, and caption projected on a screen. No sign-language interpreting was not provided then.

President Miyatake Midori of the association greeted and spoke in sign language, "Deaf people are easily misunderstood because of their appearance that looks like a hearing person. We hope as soon as possible sign language and sign-language interpreting can be used in all the scenes of a life."

In the experience program, the association director, Saito Michiko, told about the difficulties and inconvenient caused by the massive power blackout in November, last year.

She said that Deaf people were not able to get the power failure information because of communication difficulties with people in the neighborhood, so they went to the city office for help and information. "I want sign language to be used by many hearing people."

The participants made self-introduction in sign language just they learned, etc., and deepened an understanding.

Japanese source:

About group activity on arts and sign language

March, 2013

The environment in which the Deaf/deaf persons enjoy "arts" is not apparently enough. Because the Deaf/deaf person can see, it seems that special consideration is unnecessary. However, many inconvenience and disadvantages exist for them in fact. For example, it is not only few sign language interpreters who have the knowledge of arts, but also very difficult for the Deaf/deaf visitor to understand even what is interpreted because of a lot of fingerspelling used.

Moreover, there are more problems such as purchasing a admission ticket does not go smoothly, an earphone guide is not available for the Deaf/deaf visitor. A fact was pointed out that the needs of Deaf visitors are not met generally in an art museum.

Except a very few art museums, there is no program or accommodations for the Deaf/deaf person to appreciate the art works. Those who were interested in these issues gathered at a meeting sponsored by Able Art Japan in February 2011, argued freely, and shared the opinions. Since then the group, called the Group for Arts and Sign Language that supports the Deaf/deaf visitors to appreciate arts, started activities in order to change the situation.

In order to tackle the clarified issues, a new project was begun in January, 2012 and lasted until December, 2012. There were two pillars of the project. One is to make an arts appreciation program required when the Deaf/deaf persons visit an art museum, and another is to make sign language for the term related to arts as an experiment.

On the second one, the group members, curators and sign language interpreters worked on a development of sign language related to arts and selected about eighty glossaries. They can be seen on the following link (Japanese):

Japanese source:

First Japanese champion in the World Deaf Snowboard Championships in Russia

Okuda Kazuo san (center), pleased with the championship,  bites a gold medal.

March 18, 2013

A Deaf office worker Okuda Kazuo san, 44, won the victory in the part of the men's half pipe at the First World Deaf Snowboard Championships held in Moscow, Russia in February.

Okuda san, who tackled the snowboard, kept away temporarily from it in order to secure time to spend with his family, but he opted for the re-challenge on moving to Yamanashi Prefecture three years ago.

Okuda san was happy with the shining accomplishment as the world's No.1, saying, "It is like a dream. I was really glad to win the gold medal."

Japanese source:

Deaflympics cheering event due to hold in Tokyo

March 15, 2013

The Deaflympics will be held in Sophia, Bulgaria on July 26 - August 4, 2013. The Japanese team has been active, winning 20 medals including five gold medals in the last Deaflympics in 2009.

Prior to the Deaflympics in Sophia, the cheering project team will sponsor and carry out various support events in Japan.

The first event will be a futsal game in the stadium in Tokyo on March 23 which the Japanese team will join it. The participants are welcome to play together and also watch the game that the national team and the guest team play an exhibition match.

"Japan Project Team for the Deaflympics" official site (Japanese):

Japanese source:

New center for the Deaf community due to establish in Miyagi Prefecture

March 13, 2013

Based on the lesson which the Deaf community was unable to get information but isolated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Miyagi Prefecture determined the plan to establish the information center for the Deaf in the 2014 fiscal year.

The prefecture association of the Deaf and other concerned groups had requested the prefecture to establish the center, and the interested organizations had formed the preparatory committee in September, last year, and discussed the project.

The Government positions establishment of the information dissemination institution for the Deaf/deaf in important measures.

According to Miyagi prefecture officials, eight prefectures, including Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, etc., have not established a center for the Deaf community.

Japanese source:

"Sign language support system" on the tablet terminal introduced in Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture

A staff communicates with a Deaf customer in sign language on the tablet terminal.

March 11, 2013

"au NAGOYA," KDDI Corporation's operated flagship shop that sells mobile and telephones, smart phones, etc. in Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, introduced the "sign language support system" at au shops in central Japan (Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Shizuoka, and Nagano Prefectures) on March 1.

The system that uses the tablet terminal for communication with Deaf/deaf customers. The "au NAGOYA" staff fluent in sign language serves not only the Deaf/deaf visitor at the shop, but also other Deaf/deaf customers in a remote way through the use of the tablet terminal.

Japanese source:

Highest prize to application for the Deaf at business plan contest

Sarudate Ashita san wins the highest award for his work.
March 11, 2013

The "Mobile Creators Summit," a community of the creators aiming at development and expansion of a mobile application market, held the final convention of the Northeast Japan revival business plan contest on March 8, 2013. Mobile Creators Summit is .

Nine groups chosen from Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures competed advertising a plan for the final presentation. As a result, the household-noises recognition application for Deaf/deaf persons called "Onsen" presented by Iwate Prefecture University won the highest award.

The application "Onsen" recognizes various household noises, such as a door chime, a fire alarm, etc. for a Deaf/deaf person. It was made by Sarudate Ashita san, a doctor-candidate student.

He said that the research on the speech recognition technology used as a core took nine years to be applied. The application for the computer is already developed and the Android version will be also released soon.

Japanese source:

Deaf pharmacist lectures on communication issues in medical situation

A Deaf pharmacist, Shibata Masahiko san, gives a lecture in Hyogo Prefecture.

March 11, 2013

"The 21st Deaf Awareness Day Meeting" was held in Sanda-shi, Hyogo Prefecture on March 10. Shibata Masahiko san, a Deaf pharmacist, gave a lecture on the gap of feeling between the doctor and deaf patient in the medical spot, etc.

Shibata san, from a Deaf family, became a pharmacist after graduating Kobe Gakuin University with major in pharmacy. He currently works in the pharmacy in Osaka General Medical Center.

For a lecture entitled "The Deaf Patient and Medicine - In what way a Deaf pharmacist can be helpful," from his own experience, Shibata san emphasized that the doctor, the Deaf patient, and the sign language interpreter each ran short of understanding of a disability.

He explained that the Deaf patient tends to be poor at communication in writing, and that he often nods in assent even if he doesn't understand what is explained. "I want a doctor to learn sign language and also a sign language interpreter to use an intelligible expression, because only communication in writing is not enough for the Deaf."

Japanese source:

Viscount Yamao bust presented to alumni association in Chiba Prefecture

Yamao Shin-ichi san and his wife make a speech.

The Yamao's grandson and his wife unveiling the bust.

The Bust Unveiling Ceremony

The Viscount Yamao Yozo Bust

March 5, 2013

Yamao Shin-ichi, honorary adviser of the Alumni Association of the School for the Deaf, University of Tsukuba in Chiba Prefecture, donated the bust of his grandfather, Viscount Yamao Yozo to the Association.

The bust unveiling ceremony took place at the School for the Deaf on Monday, March 4.

The school and the association invited Mr. and Mrs. Yamao Shin-ichi, and performed the unveiling ceremony of the bust, the sign language chorus of the school song by high school students, commemorative group pictures, presentation of a letter of thanks to the Yamaos, etc.

Viscount Yamao Yozo was born in Choshu Domain (the present Yamaguchi Prefecture) is well known as a person who left the footprint in Japanese history from the 1870s to the 1920s.

He went to Britain for study with his comrades, Ito Hirobumi, who would be a first prime minister later,  and Inoue Kaoru who would be future education minister and others, studied various engineering, and established the engineering school in 1863 which would be the faculty of technology, the University of Tokyo later.

He tackled also in education of the Deaf eagerly, and established a school for the blind and deaf called "Rakuzen-kai Kunmoain" (楽善会訓盲院) in Tokyo in 1880.

Viscount Yamao contributed to making the school under direct control of the Ministry of Education in 1885. It was changed to the Tokyo School for the Deaf-Mute in 1910, and again to the School for the Deaf, University of Tsukuba.

Japanese source:

Video: The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (interpreted in ASL)

This year was the second year since the Great Earthquake and Tsunami hit Eastern Japan in March 11, 2011.

The documentary video has English caption and ASL.

TV news program in sign language to be online starting in April

March 16, 2013

NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai: Japan Broadcasting Corporation) will begin supplying its sign language news program online from April 1, 2013.

The 15-minute live broadcast program titled the "Sign Language News 845," at 8:45 p.m., Monday - Friday on NHK Educational TV channel will be posted on the homepage (

It will be updated about an hour after the end of broadcast every time, which can be viewed with a smart phone or a personal computer.

Japanese source:

Home helper passes a certifying examination for sign-language interpreters at once

Morikawa Masami (cencter) san chats with sign language circle members.

March 9, 2013

Morikawa Masami san, 39, who lives in Mihara-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture, registered as one of the sign language interpreters certified by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare.

She challenged the certifying examination for the first time in October last year, and passed at once.

The ratio of successful applicants of the examination which is conducted every year since 1989 is between 10 - 30%, and it is known as difficult in general.

According to the Information and Culture  Center located in Tokyo which examines, the ratio of successful applicants was 11.1% this time.

About 3,000 sign language interpreters registered with the center all over the country, and Hiroshima Prefecture has 63 certified interpreters. In the city where Morikawa san lives, the certified sign language interpreter was absent for about ten years.

Morikawa san began learning sign language ten years ago. Although she was working as a home helper since three years ago, she thought that sign language could be used for communication with the elderly people who became hearing loss, and studied towards qualification acquisition from January, last year.

Morikawa san said, "It is hard to believe that I would pass the examinaton at once. I am willing to spread sign language in the area."

Japanese source:

New employees practice reception in sign language

New employees practice reception in sign language prior to a group-joint ceremony. Their sign means "You are cordially welcome," or "May I help you?"

March 14, 2013

Seven & I Holdings, a major retail company, held a ceremony for the newly hired employees a little earlier in the hotel in Tokyo on March 14.

The ceremony takes place every year at this time in order for new employees to get experienced in customer services as soon as possible.

Japanese source:

*The sign shown in the picture looks like HELP-you in American Sign Language, but it is actually signed almost in the same way as HELP-me to mean "Welcome." Get confused?

Need to establish a deaf-friendly home for the Deaf aged

Members of the Prefecture Association of the Deaf prepare a number cloth prior to a meeting.

March 8, 2013

The Kochi Prefecture Association of the Deaf and others set about influence in the prefecture to establish a special home for the aged so that Deaf/deaf persons may be able to pass old age in comfort.

Due to insufficient services including sign-language interpreting, Deaf/deaf persons do not fully get communication in scenes, such as everyday life, care, medical treatment.

Their aging is also progressing and the Association has insisted, "It is minimum protection of human rights that communication is accessible."

Japanese source:

Signed performance contest held to promote deafn awareness in Mie Prefecture

The members of a theater group perform their original sign language play.

March 4, 2013

The Signed Play Contest to entertain the Deaf/deaf, sponsored by Chunichi Shimbun company, was held at Suzuka-shi, Mie Prefecture on March 3.

In order to enhance an understanding of sign language, the Prefecture Association of the Deaf held the event. Each theater group from Ise-shi, Yokkaichi-shi, and Matsusaka-shi, 100 actors and staff in all, performed their original play which delighted 300 visitors.

With the rule that a Deaf person and two or more hearing persons act together, each theater group showed their work for less than 20 minutes with the use of sign language, caption and speeches, and handmade sets were prepared as well.

The contest is held before or after the "day for of an ear" (the Deafness Awareness Day) on March 3 every year.

Japanese source:

Active to spread sign language in Obihiro, Hokkaido

The organizing committee holds a meeting related to the "day of an ear" to promote a understanding of sign language and deafness.

March 2, 2013

To change the present condition that sign language is not introduced positively for the emergent information at the time of a disaster, a means of transportation, etc., the Deaf community and sign language interpreters will take the lead and activate movement which asks the Government for the "sign language bill" even in the Tokachi region in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.

The Obihiro Association of the Deaf will held an event for the public in Obihiro on March 3, "the day of an ear", about the Deaf issues and more awareness of sign language.

Mori Masayoshi san, 58, vice-principal of the Obihiro School for the Deaf, is one of the people concerned, asking for more accessibility to information in society through sign language or text.

"A Deaf child who commutes by train does not know what has occurred only by audio announcement aboard, when a scram occurs during train entrainment. Sign language cannot be used even if a conductor comes to help. On the platform of a station, some children wait all the time without knowing that the train is delayed."

When sign language cannot be used, the text message thorough a mobile phone is effective. Mori san said, "A mobile phone that texts is a must for the Deaf/deaf and besides substantial text message is good."

Japanese source:

Annual exchange program for Deaf community and residents in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture

The priest  (left) gives a keynote lecture while leading gymnastics, etc.

March 3, 2013

On March 3, an event called "The 16th Awaji Exchange Program," was held in the municipal central community center in Awaji-shi, Hyogo Prefecture. It takes place every year to deepen an understanding of the Deaf community and the importance of hearing.

There were a magic show, a lecture meeting, etc. and about 150 and Deaf/deaf people and residents enjoyed the exchange program.

The organizing committee consisted of the Awaji Association of the Deaf and sign language circles, etc. planned the event;  the magic show by the local magic lovers, etc. besides consultation about hearing, and a hearing test.

Japanese source:

Deaf prefecture association holds annual convention in Fukushima

Resolutions were adopted at the Prefecture Welfare Convention of the Deaf.

March 4, 2013

The "33rd Prefecture Welfare Convention of the Deaf" was held in Kitakata-shi, Fukushima Prefecture on March 3, and adopted the convention resolution which aims at a better sign-language interpreting system, realization of a prefecture information dissemination facility for the Deaf, etc.

The convention was sponsored by the Fukushima Prefecture Association of the Deaf, and about 450 Deaf/deaf persons and sign language circle members within the prefecture participated.

Oya Susumu san, who is Deaf and Director of a care home for the Deaf aged in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, was a keynote speaker, introducing his own social activity, etc.

Japanese source:

Nippon Television to broadcast captioned all day on "the day of an ear"

Broadcast-captioning campaign performed on the "day of the ear" in 2011. Caption is at the upper right.

March 1, 2013

Nippon Television will carry out broadcast captioning all day on March 3 as known "the day of an ear".

They aim at attaining "100% of caption rate" by the 2017 fiscal year, and the plan for the day is part of their campaign.

All the TV programs, including a live broadcast by Nippon TV will be captioned on the day from a start at 5:40 a.m. to an end at midnight at 01:20 a.m., except a mail order program and sign language broadcast.

Japanese source:

University students helps in translation of Deaf film on the 2011 Earthquake Disaster

"The Silent Earthquake Disaster of 3-11" (DVD)
February 13, 2013

Imamura Ayako san, a Deaf film maker who also teaches JSL at Nagoya Gakuin University, went there immediately after the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, 2011 and filmed focusing on the Deaf community in the stricken area.

She completed and showed the 23-minute documentary film in DVD titled "The Silent Earthquake Disaster of 3-11" in September, 2012.

The film is captioned in English, Korean, and Portuguese in addition to spoken Japanese not only for the Deaf community but also for those who do not understand Japanese. It was possible by cooperation in translation of the students and teachers of the University.

The film that shows how the Deaf community faced the devastating disaster and survived may be a useful disaster prevention material.

The story goes, mainly based on an experience of a Deaf woman Kikuchi Nobuko san who lives in Iwanuma-shi, Miyagi Prefecture. When an earthquake occurred, she took evacuation and was safe, because her neighbor told her in gesture about tsunami coming up. Tsunami came and washed her house away. If the neighbor did not tell her, both she and her husband would be swallowed up by tsunami and possibly died.

■Studio AYA (In Japanese)

■English blog on the film:
"The Silent Earthquake Disaster of 3-11"

Japanese source:

English edition:

Published comics about a Deaf girl bullied attracts number of readers

The cover of a comics titled "The Sound of Voice"

February 21, 2013

A 61-page comics titled "The Sound of Voice" was published on February 20 in the weekly boy magazine No. 12.

Although it includes the shocking contents that the Deaf girl is bullied by her classmates, it has called for great attention, such as "the uncanny work."

The author of "The Form of Voice" is Ohima Yoshitoki. With this work, she won the highest prize for the magazine newcomer comics writer at the age of 19.

Ohima interviewed and discussed with the lawyers and the Japanese Federation of the Deaf and worked on the comics. It was published in the separate volume boy magazine and ranked the first place of popularity with the complete work.

Japanese source:

More restaurants welcome persons with disabilities for dinner

Participants enjoy dinner while Moribe Azuma (right) asks the Deaf woman how to sign some food in the restaurant in Osaka.

January 6, 2013

Iwanaga Ayumu san, 38, who owns a bread shop in Osaka, has a daughter with a serious disability. He wanted to start a store that people with disabilities visit freely. In response to his wish, restaurant/eatery owners in Kansai region formed a non-profit organization called "essence" in May, 2012.

Weeknight in December 2012 saw the dinner party hosted by the NPO at Sicilian restaurant  "Il Pisutakkio" in Ibaraki-shi, Osaka Prefecture.

Moribe Azuma san, 38, an NPO member, interpreted in sign language for Danjo Chie san, 45, a Deaf woman, when the restaurant owner Himori Seitaro san, 38, explained the menu.

Danjo san, who lives in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture, said, "Because I do not understand what is explained about the menu and wine, I hardly dine out at any restaurant. This time I understand the story of cuisine in sign language and indeed enjoy it."

Himori san said, "I want to continue to be challenging to make people happy."

Once a month, a cooking class and dinner will be held at some of the restaurants, aiming to make the restaurant owners think how to welcome persons with disabilities in a restaurant.

The staff will support to prepare a menu with an explanation to the Deaf, and come to support the person with disability immediately when they come in.

There are more than 30 shops and restaurants sharing the aim of NPO "essence", and various initiatives are moving.

Iwanaga san says, "People with disabilities and business people refrain from each other, which would remain far distance. We want to create an opportunity to interact with each other."

Japanese original article:

National Deaf Japanese chess championships held in Aomori Prefecture

The participants check the large board description in sign language after the first class final.

February 17, 2013

The 12th National Deaf Shogi (Japanese Chess) Championships was held for two days on February 16-17, in Asamushi, Aomori-shi in the prefecture.

A total of 25 persons participated from the whole country in the event, fist held in northeast Japan, which had close matches.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf sponsored it. Although it was due to hold in the city last year, it was postponed because of the influence of the 2011 great earthquake disaster.

Japanese source:

Teacher of deaf children arrested for taking a sneak photo of a girl

February 17, 2013

The Osaka prefecture police Izumi station arrested a man for taking a sneak photo of the inside of school girl's skirt on February 17.

The arrested is Miyoshi Kimio, 55, a teacher of the Prefecture Daizen High School for the Deaf in the prefecture, admitting that he "wanted to see the inside of a ten-aged girl's skirt."

Miyoshi used the camera of the smart phone to take the picture in the video rental shop around 5:00 p.m. on the day 

Japanese source: