Tottori Prefecture to improve job situation of interpreters in April

March 25, 2014

Tottori Prefecture in western Japan which enacted the first sign language ordinance in Japan last year tackles to improve a sign language interpreter's treatment from the new fiscal year starting in April.

The time unit price at the time of the  prefecture dispatching an interpreter to a lecture meeting, etc. is pulled up from 2000 conventional yen to 3000 yen of a national top level.

Based on the Comprehensive Support Law for the Persons with Disabilities revised last year, the self-governing body is carrying out interpreter dispatch to a lecture meeting or a private business of a Deaf client.

The Prefecture pays 2000 yen to an interpreter which is lower than the national average (2200-2300 yen). A scene to be acted as interpreter increases with social participation of the Deaf, and after the sign language ordinance establishment, more requests for interpreting services come from the Deaf community.

Moreover, the current payment system is based on interpreter's actual working hours, and the times for travel and preparations are not reflected in the payment.

Therefore, the aspect supported by the volunteerism by a sign language interpreter is strong, and so the problem that "living by the job as an interpreter is difficult, and being an interpreter is not materialized easily as an occupation," according to prefecture officials.

The Prefecture has only 35 interpreters, and will promote their training, too.

Japanese source:

Blue-colored wristband produced as a mark for easy communication

March 22, 2014

Since deafness does not show itself for the sake of appearance, the person who studied sign language cannot find a Deaf person, and so do not start an actual conversation easily.

Even if Deaf persons cannot judge whether a person is fluent in sign language or not, they hardly speak to the others.

The Kochi Prefecture Association of the Deaf in western Japan products wristbands and sells 300 yen per piece to help a Deaf person and a hearing counterpart start communication quickly. 

The wristband is a blue product made from silicon, and has a phrase of "We Love Communication" on the surface.

Japanese source:

Prefecture Museum of Modern Art strives for Deaf friendly environment

The Deaf/deaf participants discuss what they felt inconvenient in the workshop held in the Tokushima Modern Art Museum.

March 20, 2014

The Tokushima Modern Art Museum in western Japan is tackling in order to be as an institution where persons with disabilities may also appreciate arts freely.

Aiming at developing a Deaf friendly environment, the museum began an art appreciation tour with sign-language interpreting for the first time in 2012, and held the workshop to get an opinion from Deaf/deaf visitors  in February, this year.

Although the art appreciation tour with sign-language interpreting was successful, there was an opinion from the Deaf/deaf visitors; "We wanted to feel free to ask anything such as work description, etc."

In the workshop, 16 persons who were either Deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing attended, and shared the opinion about what they would think inconvenient in the museum.

The art museum is examining putting the board for written communication and writing materials on a receptionist out of the opinions which came out in the workshop.

Japanese source:

Event held in Tokyo to promote early establishment of sign language law

The First Diet Members' Office Building Hall where the event was opened.

March 20, 2014

The event which asks for establishment of "a sign language law (tentative name)" was held in the No.1 House of Representatives Office Building on March 14, which about 200 persons and 14 Diet members attended.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf, the sponsor of the event, reported its action policy to promote early legislation, such as aiming at adoption of written opinion in all the self-governing bodies nationwide by this autumn.

A Flemish Parliament Member, Helga Stevens of Belgium who is Deaf and a former Europe Union of the Deaf Director and President, was invited to the event.

She said, "Sign language is the key of a door for a Deaf person to participate in society. While a Deaf person's social participation is promoted by accepting sign language as language, establishment of a language law is only one route. Even if after the law were established, it is most important to follow up with it."

A total of 41 cities and towns from 11 prefectures after three self-governing bodies, such as Tottori Prefecture which enacted the ordinance at home, submitted the written opinion and/or the petition which ask for establishment of a sign language law to the Diet.

The same promotion event is due to be held in Ishikari again in April.

Japanese source:

Deaf schools hold the last graduation ceremony in March

The children who shake a hand at the school building of the Tokushima Prefecture School for the Deaf in Tokushima City, and say good-bye.

"The event of separation" was performed in the Tokushima Prefecture School for the Deaf in western Japan on March 24. About 120 students from preschool through high school and alumni members said good-bye.

The school will change its name to the Tokushima Support School for the Deaf and move to a town in the city in April, where 40 students including eight new students will learn.

Another school, the Kushiro School for the Deaf  in Hokkaido, northern Japan held the last graduation ceremony on March 17 . A preschooler and a student from junior high school attended it.

The school will be closed at the end of March and all the Deaf students will be transferred to a new school, the Kushiro Tsuruno Support School which will open in April. 

Japanese sources:

Parents with hard of hearing children surprised at "the speaker that is easy to catch"

Children are glad to understand what a speaker says from behind with the microphone. 
March 17, 2014

The meeting to test the speaker called "COMUOON" which makes a hard of hearing person easy to catch the sound was held at the Saga Prefecture Office on March 16.

About 20 members from the group of the parents with hard of hearing children in the prefecture, the Dumbo's Group, raised the voice of surprise with the effect that the children with slight hearing loss can hear clearly with the speaker.

The NPO Japan Universal Sound Design Association introduced the idea of the device which reproduces the original sound faithfully, etc.

On the day the group members had a session with the prefecture education board, requesting that the FM hearing-aid loan system to the child with difficulty in hearing, etc.

Japanese source:

University circle supports Fukushima through sign language dance

March 17, 2014

The charity event which supports the activity of the children in Fukushima Prefecture which suffered from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake was opened in the elementary school gymnasium in Gifu Prefecture on March 15, which about 100 dancers performed. 

The Chubu Gakuin University sign language circle sponsored this event, cosponsored by the town commerce industry council and the Hida-Osaka tourist agency.

The dancers and members of a professional theatrical company who instructs the circle, and elementary and junior high school students in the city participated in the event.

Following a loud sound of the drum which the Gifu drum group performed, the Deaf persons also danced together the sign language dance.

About 150 spectators gathering in the gymnasium also danced with the dancing groups at the end, heaping up the hall.

Fund-raising given at the event is due to be donated to the children through the volunteer organization in Fukushima.

Japanese source:

Saga-shi to expand sign-language interpreting support

March 15, 2014

Saga-shi in western Japan will add more places to dispatch the sign-language interpreting service members and note-taking service members, starting in April.

The dispatch places were restricted to a medical institution, government and municipal offices until now. In response to the Deaf community's requests, the mobile phone store for the contract procedure and ceremonial occasions will be added.

Deaf persons said when purchasing a smart phone, etc. there are many technical terms and that contractual coverage is difficult to understand. Some pointed out also that without knowing an advance situation at a funeral, having had a feeling that he/she was left out, etc.

In the last fiscal year the sign-language interpreters were dispatched for 168 cases, and the note-taking 18 cases.

The city has proposed about 1,660,000 yen as dispatch and a training cost of service members in the new-fiscal-year initial budget.

The Deaf/deaf population in the city was 935 at the end of March, 2013.

Japanese source:

Deaf persons refused by real estate brokers for the communication issues in emergency

March 14, 2014

Two Deaf persons, who visited the estate agency company that develops across Japan in Hirakata-shi, Osaka in February for housing reference of an apartment, were refused after one another for the reason of "lack of communication by a telephone in an emergency."

One of them called on the rental housing broker on February 12, and conveyed considering move, but they refused, saying, "The client must have a mobile phone to be contacted immediately."

The woman has until now the experience that she moved several times with her family, and was staying in touch by fax instead of the telephone with the rental contractor. She says, "I have never been refused for reasons of disability until now. I was shocked very much this time."

The same rental contractor had another Deaf woman in her 50's and refused her for the same reason early in February, too. She visited other contractor and was able to rent a room. She was said that she can use a friend if she cannot telephone on that occasion, and so she gave the mobile phone number of her friend.

According to the head office in Tokyo of the rental company which refused the Deaf women both, the salesclerk communicated with them by writing.

The press officer of the rental company is apologizing, saying, "We were only anxious about that there was no special equipment to contact the client in an emergency. We don't really mean to refuse their rental request."

The Disabled Persons' Fundamental Law specifies that it allows neither the discrimination for reasons of any disability, nor the act which infringes on the disability rights.
Also an economic organization, the national rental-properties management business association, does not accept that a rental broker refuses moving in for reasons of a disability.

However, actually there is no clear legal basis about a housing recommendation to a person with disability, and judgment is left to each company.

Japanese source:

First certified "sign language interpreter" in Amami Islands

Nakahama Hiroshi, the first certified sign language interpreter in Amami Islands.

March 11, 2014

In February, 2014, Nakahama Hiroshi (中浜博), 40, who works as a sign language interpreter in the Amami-shi welfare policy division became a certified sign language interpreter for the first time in Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture in western Japan.

A certified "sign language interpreter" is the official one defined with the ministerial ordinance of the Law for the Welfare of People with Physical Disabilities. In the sign-language interpreting of a trial or broadcast of political views, only certificated sign language interpreters are required.

If any sign interpreters pass the sign-language interpreting skill certifying examination which is carried out every year, they register with a social welfare corporation, The Information and Cultural Center for the Deaf, located in Tokyo, and becomes "certified sign language interpreters."

Although there are 18 sign language interpreters in Amami-shi now, only several interpreters are available. Therefore, the communication through note-taking is carried out in many cases. Besides, the needs in the medical scene are also increasing especially.

Japanese source:

Deaf gold medalist to give up table tennis

Ueda Moe (right) shows a forcible play at the All Japan Championship.

March 10, 2014

 Ueda Moe (上田萌), 24, the medalist of the women's singles table tennis at the Deaflympics, expressed her retirement after March. The Tokyo Championship which opens on March 12 will be her last game.

Ueda, who was from Kyoto Prefecture, began table tennis at the age of five after watching light rally of Fukuhara Ai, a hearing girl aged 6 then in the convention where her elder brother was a player, too. Ueda says, "I became positive to interact with others through the sport."

She has won the silver medal at the Deaflympics in 2009, and the gold medal at the Deaflympics in July, 2013, which was her dream. She later felt burned out.

Although Ueda is undecided about future, she is thinking what to do for  some support to the Deaf/deaf children.

Japanese source:

Wife of Prime Minister performs a sign language dance in Tokyo

Abe Akie dances with the music and song of the thought for the disaster victims who lost the important persons by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

March 8, 2014

Abe Akie (安倍昭恵), the wife of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, participated in the event of the "sign language dance" opened in Nakano Ward, Tokyo and also danced herself on March 8.

A sign language dance expresses lyrics by dancing and using sign language at the same time.

Abe appeared on the event sponsored by the non-profit organization "Sign Language Dance YOU & I", of which she is a member, and danced with a rich expression following the song of a singer Moriyama Naotaro (森山直太朗), etc.

Abe said to the Asahi Shimbun reporter, "What a sign language dance attracts is that regardless disability people can also enjoy it."

Japanese source:

Yokohama city states about the fake deaf composer and his disability card

The disability planning and policy division officials interviewed in Yokohama City Office.

March 7, 2014

Yokohama City gave the press conference on March 7 about Samuragochi Mamoru (佐村河内守), 50, a fake Deaf composer who had another person make a musical piece. He currently lives in Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The city officials explained that since the auditory diagnosis that Samuragochi had for reexamination showed a result of "not auditory difficulties," and that he returned the disability card to the city on February 28.

The city officials also stated that the medical-expenses subsidy of about 243,000 yen was paid to Samuragochi as a severely handicapped person in three years.

However, they said that they would not require him to return the subsidy because it was impossible to investigate the time when he became Deaf.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare considers reexamination of the method to issue the disability card from the lesson of Samuragochi Mamoru's case.

The Ministry plans to set up an investigative committee of the specialists who are Deaf/deaf by the end of March, aiming to discuss the method of disability recognition, whether the term of validity of the disability card is made, etc.

Japanese sources:

English related links:
Japan's 'deaf composer' may not be the artist he claims

Shintoku-cho assembly approves sign language ordinance proposal

The health and welfare section chief, Watanabe Hiroyuki explains the reason for a proposal of an ordinance in sign language.

March 6, 2014

The Shintoku town assembly in Hokkaido approved unanimously the "Basic Ordinance on Sign Language" proposal which aims at the spread of sign language and promotion of an understanding on March 5.

The town will enforce the ordinance on April 1 at the third example across Japan following Tottori Prefecture and Ishikari-shi.

According to town officials, the ordinance positioned sign language as "language." Promoting a required measure specified the duty of the town for aiming at realization of the community where all the townsmen live with the Deaf persons.

The vocational aid center for the Deaf to live independently was established in the town in 1953. Because two out of nine facilities for the Deaf senior all over Japan are operated in Shintoku town, it is called "the Sign Language Town."

Deaf persons by 3.7% (236 persons) of the townspeople live in the town, which will say that a rate is high compared with other self-governing bodies as of April, 2013.

Japanese source:

Company in Sapporo gropes about the wedding ceremony for Deaf persons

Saito Kaname  (left) discusses the plan of a wedding ceremony with his fellow worker in sign language.

 February 27, 2014

The bridal producing company called "Glove Entertainment" in Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido is working on the plan of the wedding ceremony that Deaf persons can also enjoy.

The hearing employees learned sign language, and also the opinion of the Deaf employee Saito Kaname (斉藤要) was adopted.

The experimental wedding reception was held in the city in December, 2013, which about 50 Deaf persons were invited. They touched the balloon installed in the hall in order to feel music as one of fine creatively arrangements.

The company is advertising, saying "We would like to arrange a wedding ceremony that all the attendants share a joyous moment regardless of disability."

President Sato Nozomu (佐藤望), 41, had the opportunity that he attended the wedding ceremony of one of his childhood friends who was Deaf eight years ago, the start for the new project.

Japanese source:

"Medical interpreter" training class including sign language starts in Hirakata-shi, Osaka

The professor of the Osaka University graduate school (right) gives a lecture in the training class.

February 26, 2014

In order to make the foreigners as well as the Deaf community members who have difficulties to take communication with a health professional receive suitable medical treatment in comfort, Hirakata-shi in Osaka Prefecture started the "medical interpreter" training program.

Although the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will arrange training of medical interpreters from next year in response to the holding of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympics in 2020, Hirakata-shi is the first kind in Japan to include not only a foreign language but sign language in training medical interpreters.

The population of Hirakata is about 410,000 people, and about 3800 foreigners live in the city while there are about 1200 deaf residents who registered with a disability card. The city estimates that about 5000 people are facing the communication issues in a health professional.

It was first the Deaf persons who experienced in the communication issues in the medical filed appealed to the city the necessity for medical interpreting, forming a group in 2012 aiming at medical interpreting spread.

The importance of medical interpreting came to be taken up also at the Hirakata-shi assembly. The city determined to tackle the medical interpreting program by cooperation from a medical university, a university of foreign studies, etc in the city and the Medical Interpreters Council located at Osaka University).

The training class with capacity of 18 students attracted 108 applicants including persons experienced in overseas service.

It has started in mid-January with a total of 19 persons in their 30-70's  and fluent in either of foreign languages (English, Chinese, and Spanish) and sign language. The class will continue until middle-March, 10 lessons and 40 hours in total.

Japanese source:

Salesclerk learn how to communicate with the deaf customer in sign language in Hokkaido

The employees of a shopping center, Ion Hokkaido, learn sign language from the Deaf lecturer (right).

February 22, 2014 

The sign language basic ordinance which Ishikari-shi in Hokkaido enacted ahead of other cities, towns and villages all over Japan will be enforced in April.

The Ion Shopping Center in the city held the sign language class for its employees in cooperation of the city on February 21.

About 20 employees attended the class and learned how to meet the need of a Deaf shopper.

It is the first time that the sign language class is held for a company in response to the ordinance establishment.

The class is been going to be held 4 times including this time, in which about 70 employees are going to participate.

Japanese source:

Deaf college student acquires a long-awaited karate black obi with karate

Okita Taiga acquires the black obi.

February 11, 2014

In Ishikawa Prefecture, Okita Taiga (沖田大芽), 19, a Kanazawa Seiryo College freshman, who was born deaf, finished ten-person sparring continuously pitched against each other successfully at the winter karate promotion examination meeting on February 2. He won the black obi (belt), the first rank which was his great desire.

Okita started practice in a local karate school when he was a junior high school student of the Ishikawa School for the Deaf.

Although he was not able to take communication well with other hearing students at the karate school at the beginning and likely to suffer a setback sometimes, he gritted his tooth, strove for exercise.

When he was a senior high school student, he first won the victory in the karate exchange convention in Fukui Prefecture.

Later Okita rose in rank favorably taking advantage of high physical strength by having joined the track and field team.

He decided to take promotion examination as he wanted to take the black obi, which was his dream ever since when he started karate.

After winning the black obi, Okita said, "I want to tell the Deaf/deaf youth that you can do it if you want to do something. It is my dream to open the exercise hall for Deaf/deaf children some day."

Japanese source:

Deaf high student trained at hairdressing shop in city office

 February 8, 2014

Furuuchi Yuria (古内ゆりあ), 17, a high school sophomore in the hairdressing course of the Ibaraki Prefectural Mito School for the Deaf had on-site training in the hairdressing shop at the prefecture office.

The Mito School offers on-site training around a total of 15 days in three years for the student who takes a vocational course including hairdressing, dressmaking, etc.

Furuuchi learned how to wash and massage the head of a customer under the instruction of the manager of the hairdressing shop from February 5 through 7.

She said with smile, "I was tense at first, but was gladdest about the customer saying he felt pleasant."

Japanese source:

Verification of the alarm equipment which appeals for evacuation to the Deaf

February 18, 2014

Fire and Disaster Management Agency performed training to verify the effect of the alarm equipment that appeals for evacuation to the Deaf/deaf by blink of light at a time of a fire in Haneda Airport, Tokyo.

The training aimed to find how the Deaf/deaf could recognize the white light on the alarm which blinks once in 1 second, and take evacuation. 

As a result, all the Deaf/deaf participants responded to the alarm by light and took evacuation, compared with the public emergency announcement which no one noticed.

One of the Deaf/deaf participants commented: "I noticed shining. However, I might not notice the light when reading or talking with someone."

Fire and Disaster Management Agency is due to experiment on 25 hospitals and schools, etc. across Japan by January, and to find an experimental result by March, 2014.

Japanese source:

Deaf student aims to become a hearing dog trainer

February 5, 2014

The organization in Nagano Prefecture, the Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, welcomed a new deaf student, Hagiwara Rei (萩原怜), 18, on February 4. He said, "I hope I as a deaf person can support other deaf person through a hearing dog."

The organization opens a year-long course of for hearing dong trainer in February every year, and offers the qualification of associate trainer at the time of complement of the course. Furthermore, the associate trainer becomes a formal trainer after experience in teaching three users how to treat a hearing dog.

Hagiwara, an animal lover, was born hard of hearing and uses a hearing aid. He graduated from the local agricultural high school.

He said, "I  began to think; I want to keep myself concerned with an animal and would like to do work which is beneficial to deaf people rather than going to a university."

Japanese source:

Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People official website (Japanese):

Local assemblies submit written opinion on sign language as "language"

February 03, 2014

There is a move grown in local assemblies and self-governing bodies all over Japan that ask for improvement of the educational environment to master sign language, etc.

According to the Japanese Federation of the Deaf based in Tokyo, 32 local assemblies in ten prefectures, such as Osaka, Tokyo and Ishikawa (as of January 21), are asking the Government for adoption of a "sign language bill" by written opinion.

In Tottori Prefecture, and Ishikari-shi, Hokkaido, the original ordinance which regards sign language as "language" was enacted.

According to the special-support-education division of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the national guidelines for teaching defines sign language to be regarded as the communication means on a par with a sound or a character of Japanese language. The spread of the sign language among schools for the Deaf is progressing now, yet sign language is not made a requirement.

The Japanese sign language bill which the Japanese Federation of the Deaf created is proposed as follows.

1. let sign language be required subject in special support school for the Deaf.

2. the opportunity for a Deaf child and a Deaf person to receive education by sign language should be secured.

3. the Government and the local self-governing body should take measures to make information dissemination accessible to the Deaf through sign language, etc. 

Japanese source:

English links: Disgraced Composer Offers Apologies


March 7, 2014
Mamoru Samuragochi (佐村河内守), 50, a hearing man who faked deafness, apologized for his misleading behavior at a news conference held in Tokyo in the morning on March 7.

English links:
‘Deaf composer’ apologizes for misleading public

Disgraced Japanese Composer Offers Apologies - Mamoru Samuragochi Insists He Is Partly Deaf

Famaous composer was fake deaf

The story about a fake deaf composer shocked not only Japan but also run through around the world early February.

It runs:

Samuragochi Mamoru, who won fame for overcoming deafness to write music, confessed many of his best-known works were ghostwritten. Then his ghostwriter said he was not actually deaf, either.

English links:
Japan's 'deaf composer' may not be the artist he claims