Measures in western Japan progress to the spread of sign language as "important language"

Students discuss some issues about sign language led by the Deaf lecturer (standing) in the "Japanese Sign Language" class at Kwansei Gakuin University in Hyogo Prefecture.

 May 15, 2014 
With sign language positioned as a language, the measure which aims at the spread and promotion of an understanding of the language has spread in the Kansai district including the prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, etc.

The Human Welfare Department of the Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture offers a course of "Japanese Sign Language" as one of the language courses, which about 200 students take every year.

Hirakata-shi in Osaka Prefecture trains the sign language interpreter in the medical field, groping for a system to help the Deaf person have proper medical treatment.

In 2008, the Human Welfare Departmane of the Kwansei Gakuin University opened the "Japanese Sign Language" course as one of the selective language courses required for credits. Students study the practical skill and attend the lecture on sign language in two years.

The team consisting of a Deaf instructor and a hearing counterpart. The Deaf instructor teaches practical skill only in signing, and the hearing one gives a lecture related to an introduction to "Deaf Culture" and  "Japanese Sign Language," respectively.

On May 14, the Deaf instructor, Maekawa Kazumi (å‰åˇå’ŒįžŽ), 38, gave a lecture for the first-year students on the theme of her own experience in Deaf education.

She described her experience with lipreading and oral method which forced her to learn, and pointed out the issue of deaf education in Japan.

Maekawa stated, "The language which a Deaf person understands completely is sign language. Lipreading and oral method will require a lot of energy only to catching what a hearing person speaks. I strongly believe the education in sign language is required."

"Japan is behind." One of the students who attended the lecture meeting said, "Hearing people not only learn sign language, but also they need to change the social consciousness to the Deaf community."

After the lecture in the past, some students aimed at becoming a sign language interpreter, or found a job at social welfare facilities or a governmental agency, which made them come in contact with the Deaf community in sign language.

The Hirakata-shi office started training "medical interpreting" in the 2013 fiscal year so that a foreigner and a Deaf/hearing loss person may feel easy to receive medical treatment. Although training of the medical interpreting in a foreign language has been achieved also in other self-governing bodies, the case for sign language is new.

It is difficult for Deaf persons to tell their own medical condition and to understand what the doctor says correctly in the medical environment. City officials in charge declares, "To communicate in sign language is required for a Deaf person receiving suitable medical treatment as the same as a hearing person."

Three sign language interpreters took the training course in the 2013 fiscal year. The city is going to establish the dispatch system of the medical interpreters including sign language before the end of the year 2014.

Japanese source:

Related links:
Group formed to start medical interpreting system in Osaka

Medical interpreting spread to support Deaf persons

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

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

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