Ishikari-shi: Second sign language ordinance to be established in Japan

December 15, 2013

Sign language is regarded as "language" and "the basic ordinance on sign language" of Ishikari-shi, Hokkaido in Japan's northern island where citizens aim at easy-to-use environmental development for sign language will be established on December 16.

The same ordinance is the second example across Japan after Tottori Prefecture, and is the first at the level of cities, towns and villages.

Sugimoto Goro (ζ‰ζœ¬δΊ”ιƒŽ), 66, an Ishikari Association of the Deaf president, served the investigative commission of ordinance establishment. He was glad about the process, saying,  "Until now generally it is not recognized sign language is language. The first one step will be to enhance an understanding of sign language."

"I can talk with a friend." It was the school for the Deaf where he was transferred when he was a sixth grader. Until then there was almost no conversation with a classmate in the hearing school, and at the school for the Deaf he felt his world was open suddenly, imitating a friend signing and learning sign language at the same time.

However, at that time the Deaf students were educated orally. It was that the use of sign language came to be accepted in schools for the Deaf all over Japan about a decade years ago.

Ishikari-shi started preparation of ordinance establishment taking advantage of the "Hokkaido-Island Convention of the Deaf" having been held last year.

The investigative commission by nine members, consisting Deaf persons, including Sugimoto, and specialists, has been held since May. Although the meeting was scheduled four times at the beginning, the argument became so hot that it held 7 times through October.

What was repeated especially in the argument was whom the "ordinance would be for. The opinion succeeded one another such as "the hearing family with the Deaf person, the hearing person who studies sign language to be also included", although it was considered as the "Deaf person," etc. at the beginning. It was decided finally on "the citizen using sign language" to reference for advice of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf.

The ordinance requires the city to make sign language easy-to-use environment for every citizen as well as it defines that the city may strive for promotion of sign language education and fiscal measures as city duty.

Moreover, in consideration of the hard of hearing person who don't sign, the proposal was made also that the city secures a note taking service as one of social welfare services".

Sugimoto said that there are some persons who are narrowly expected to use sign language in public even now, or encounter refusal of admittance in an employment test for reasons of being Deaf.

He wishes saying, "Sign language is important for us. I want the world where it is natural to use sign language taking advantage of the ordinance."

Japanese source:

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