DeafBlind's experience in the Great East Japan Earthquake

September 6, 2014

When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, how did the DeafBlind person get to know the situation, and how did he/she act?

The Tokyo DeafBlind Organization in Taito-ku, Tokyo interviewed the DeafBlind persons in Tokyo who experienced the disaster and published the report.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's estimation in 2006, there are 22,000 persons with both visual and hearing impairments, including speech disorder and hearing loss in Japan. The DeafBlind Organization has 95 DeafBlind members.

Fujijika Kazuyuki (藤鹿一之), 48, president of the organization, himself DeafBlind, said, "We discussed how we should act at the time of a disaster before the Great East Japan Earthquake, but we were never able to reach the conclusion.

Then, the organization established a committee to interview six DeafBlind persons in Tokyo about their reaction or action at the time of disaster.

It was found that when an earthquake occurred, four persons were together with interpreters and care workers.

The DeafBlind men with weak sight encountered the earthquake, while taking the train with the interpreter and the care taker. They got down to the track and took evacuation in the gymnasium of the elementary school. It was not easy to move to a toilet, etc. because of some persons laying down themselves on the  floor. 

The committee points out that the three major difficulties for the DeafBlind, which are "communication", "access to information", and "movement", will be even more difficult in case of an earthquake disaster.

The committee made the "SOS card" for the DeafBlind to show when asking people nearby for help. The kind of disability, communication method, and family doctor, the emergency contact, etc. are indicated in the card.

The committee also encourages the members to register to the local self-governing body in need of a support person at the time of a disaster

Even if a DeafBlind person registers with the city office for a support person required after an earthquake disaster, the uneasiness about a place where he/she has gone remains. "It is impossible to take evacuation by myself. There is no telling me whether evacuation is required."

What a healthy person can do is short and intelligible language when telling a situation.

Japanese source:

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