Free emergency card for the Deaf to be distributed in Tokushima

The emergency card which Tokushima-shi 
plans to distribute to the Deaf community.
September 25, 2014

Tokushima-shi, Tokushima Prefecture in western Japan made the business-card-sized "emergency note" which the emergency contacts, required support, etc. can be filled in.

The card will be useful when a Deaf person needs support from the surrounding in state of emergency, the shelter at the time of a disaster, etc. according to the city office.  Free distribution is scheduled to start on October 1 in the city office, etc.

Tokyo has already advanced the spread of such an emergency card since 2012.

Japanese source:

DeafBlind man to challenge national bowling game in Okinawa

Endo practices in a bowling alley.
September 25, 2014

Endo Daisuke (遠藤大輔), 37, will participate in the bowling game at the 48th National Deaf Athletic Meet which will be held from September 25 in Okinawa Prefecture.

According to the organizing committee, several DeafBlind persons have participated in the past National Deaf Meets.

Endo, born Deaf, attended the Prefectural School for the Deaf in Niigata Prefecture, part of East Japan, since he was one year old. Later his sight was lost due to pigmentary degeneration of the retina.

He is taking charge of the inspection of the substrate of a smart phone, etc. in the electronic-components company.

Endo was invited by a Deaf friend to play bowling about three years ago. He has belonged to the Deaf Bowling Circle, and his bowling skill was  improved.

It will the first time for him to compete at the national event: a team with four members, and individual matches. "I would like to do my best to get the best score."

Japanese source:

Deaf support center in Saga Prefecture offers weekly counseling service

Counseling room
September 23, 2014

The Prefectural Deaf Support Center in Saga, part of Japan's southern island, holds the counseling service for a persons with hearing loss from 13:00 - 17:00 on Wednesday every week.

The counselors, including Koga Michiko (古賀道子) who became deaf later, advise on how to live with less stress that comes from hearing loss.

Counseling is provided in a private room, with the used of the infrared assistant hearing system or writing for easy communication if needed.

Japanese source:

Interpreting training begins prior to national sports convention in Iwate Prefecture in 2016

The leaders discuss the short course schedule
of a sign language volunteer for next year.
September 22, 2014

The National Athletic Meet and the National Disabilities Sports Convention will be held in Iwate Prefecture, a part of East Japan, in 2016.

The prefectural organizing committee plans to assign 600 volunteers as an information support volunteers for the Deaf athletes and visitors: 300 interpreters and 300 CART/note takers.

Application for volunteers will start in October.

Twenty six "leaders" of the interpreting team has started their training on September 21. They will act as an instructor to the applicants in the training program which will be held next year.

Japanese source:

Deaf elders perform play at sign language festival in Shiga Prefecture

The Def elderly people perform the sign language
play "Momotaro" with a rich expression.
September 22, 2014

The 16th Sign Language Friendship Festival was held in the community center in Yasu-shi, Shiga Prefecture near Osaka on September 21.

The support group of the Prefectural Welfare Association opens the festival every year for the purpose of exchange of the Deaf community and the general public.

Nine Deaf elderly people performed the sign language play titled "Momotaro", a well-known folk story. Their humorous performance with rich expression invited a spectator's laughter.

In addition, there were presentations such as the sign language students and sign language circle's members who gave a presentation of what they have learned, demonstration of hearing dog training, etc.

Japanese source:

Disability supporters training held in Kumamoto Prefecture

September 21, 2014

The study session of the "Disability Supporters" was held in the Kumamoto City Office Annex in Kumamoto Prefecture, a part of Japan's southern island, on September 20. 

The City began the program last year to make  the city accessible to persons with disabilities to live easily.

About 70 persons participated aiming at understanding what the disabled person needs usually before their practice.

They listened to the lecture of a city person's in charge, viewed DVD, and studied the characteristic of various disabilities, such as visual impairment and hearing loss, the support method, etc.

Japanese source:

Development of vibrating transfer device for the Deaf to enjoy the visual and music event in Ishikawa Prefecture

September 18, 2014

The "Kanazawa Castle projection mapping" which colors the Kanazawa Castle Park in Ishikawa Prefecture by the newest visual and music will be demonstrated on October 11-12.

A visual artist Hishikawa Seiichi (菱川勢一) who plays an active role in the world is developing the device which conducts music by vibration so that the persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing including the elder will enjoy music through the vibrations.

He says that it is the first time to use such a device to conduct music by vibration in projection mapping in Japan.

Hishikawa improved the commercial audio equipment for home theaters with a composer to make projection mapping possible in cooperation with the students of the Ishikawa Prefectural School for the Deaf located in east Japan.

Japanese source:

Project mapping on Tokyo Station (December 18, 2012)

Ishikari-city in Hokkaido starts video remote interpreting service

While the Deaf woman (right) is using VRI in the city
office, the personnel listens to what is interpreted.
September 17, 2014

In Ishikari-shi in Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, the "sign language ordinance" has been enacted in April in order to build the society in which a Deaf person lives at ease. The city began "video remote interpreting service" using a TV phone on September 16.

When the Deaf person visit the city office or the branch office,  the computer at the reception connects to another one near an interpreter employed by the city, and the communication takes place with the personnel in charge.

The interpreter stands by in the City General Health Care Welfare Center next to the city office. Until now those who had business in the city office needed first to go to the Center once and ask for the interpreter to be  accompanied. The new service becomes convenient for elderly people and busy people, too.

The Deaf housewife aged 65 who used VRI in the updating procedure of the medical-expenses recipient certificate said, "I am poor at reading and writing. I feel good that I can communicate smoothly with this new service, as I don't need to go and call an interpreter any more."

Japanese source:

Deaf puppet company instructs Deaf school children how to play musical instrument in Toyama Prefecture

The children enjoy playing a musical instrument
in the Takaoka Special Support School for the Deaf.
September 18, 2014

Three members of the puppet company "The Deaf Puppet Theater Pupil", located at Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture, visited the Takaoka Special Support School for the Deaf in Toyama Prefecture, a part of eastern Japan, on September 17. They showed 12 young children from the preschool and primary school how to enjoy using a musical instrument.

The children performed with musical instruments, such as African drum, castanets, and maraca, following signal of a member of the puppet company as making a loud sound or a low sound in sign language.

They also performed according to the rhythm along which a member walked. The gymnasium was full of the happy face of the children and the sound of the musical instrument.

The puppet company is going to perform its puppet play at the 50th anniversary ceremony of the school foundation on October 25. The experienced workshop was opened in order that the children learn how to enjoy a musical instrument performance in advance of the event.

Seventeen junior and high school students also participated in the communication game without using language, such as playing catch with the ball made in the newspaper, on the day afternoon.

Japanese source:

Manufacturing industry commended by Government for promotion of disability employment

Many persons with disabilities work
at OMRON Sun Co. in Oita Prefecture.
September 18, 2014

The electric-machinery-and-apparatuses manufacturing industry "OMRON Sun" in Beppu-shi, Oita Prefecture, part of Japan's southern island, was commended by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare for the record of years of disability employment.

Currently 31 workers who are disabled out of 61 employees produce the electric part of control apparatus, etc.

The industry has continued the staff assignment, or the improvement of equipment suitable for a disability to improve the work environment so that every worker with disability can commit.

For example, in the manufacturing department where Deaf/hard of hearing workers are posted, the light is installed to tell them the progress condition of work .

The OMRON Sun was started as a joint stock company of Japan Sun Industries in Beppu and OMRON in Kyoto in 1972.

Japanese source:

Strengthening training for Men's vollyballers to play in Deaflympics

The players practice aiming at being
selected to Japan's national team.
September 15, 2014

The Deaf volleyball players participated in strengthening practice for three days from September 13 in the gymnasium in Kagawa Prefecture for team organization of the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey.

Moreover, a workshop was held on September 14 to spread the attractions of the Deaf volleyball. The practice is also open for general public presentation.

The Men's team has achieved winning the 5th place in the 2009 Deaflympics in Taiwan, aiming to win a medal in next Deaflympics.

Japanese source:

Deaf students in Wakayama Prefecture make souvenir for inter-high school event

The students in white uniform handed souvenirs to
the superintendents of education (second from right)
for the up-coming high school sports event.
 September 12, 2014

Prior to the Annual National High School Athletic Meet (the inter-high school championships) in the Wakayama Prefecture next year, the transfer ceremony will take place in Wakayama-shi in the prefecture on September 23.

At the traditional ceremony, the students from South Kanto, a part of eastern Japan where the National High School Athletic Meet will be held this year, plan to present "the seed of the flower of friendship" to the counterparts from Wakayama in western Japan.

As a souvenir for the students from South Kanto, the students of the prefectural Wakayama School for the Deaf made 32 pieces of the tote bag, which three student representatives handed to the prefectural superintendent of education on September 12.

Japanese source:

Deaf students to give a play about the history of sign language in Tottori Prefecture

The students practice
with Nakajima, an adviser (left).
 September 12, 2014

The play titled "AKASHI - The Proof" by the group of students of the Prefectural Tottori School for the Deaf will be shown at the "Bird Theater Festival 7" (September 13-28) in Tottori-shi on September 21.

The students interviewed from the alumni about the state of deaf education using sign language and oralism in the past in order to make a story.

Two junior high school students and six high students act as either a student or a teacher. They have practiced since the end of August,
driving a thought to the alumni troubled with the time when sign language was not allowed at school.

Nakajima Ryoto (中島諒人) who superintends the Bird Theater visited the school to instruct the student group on their performance including the scene that  students were reproached for using sign language by the teacher, the scene where teachers collided involving teaching methods, etc.

Nakajima says, "It is the play which is in pain and is charged with the history of the people who fought, so the actor needs to become a living person with such a feeling in those days to perform."

Some of the students commented:
"I will keep in mind about the alumni when acting. I want spectators to know the difference between the past and present."

"I would like to tell spectators that there was a painful thing a long time ago. Our play will lead to spread sign language all over Japan more since Tottori Prefecture's sign language ordinance one year ago."

Japanese source:

Deaf couple to cycle in a earthquake-stricken area of Miyagi Prefecture

Hayase Kentaro (right) and
his wife, Kumi ready for cycling.
 September 11, 2014

A Deaf couple will participate in the bicycle event on September 14, which the cyclists will run through the northeastern area hit by the great earthquake in 2011. The couple want to  make more people aware of existence of persons with disabilities who are without accessibility to disaster radio, etc. at the time of a disaster.

Hayase Kentaro (早瀬憲太郎), 41 and his wife Kumi (久美), 39, are continuing the practice that they cycle up and down on ten or more hills for about one hour from their home in Yokohama-shi, before participating in "Le Tour de Tohoku" at Ishimaki-shi, Miyagi Prefecture.

Many persons with disabilities had fallen victim after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. When the disability organization, "The Japanese Disability Forum" estimated based on statistics of Government and self-governing bodies, the mortality rate of the persons with disabilities was about twice persons without disabilities.

In Miyagi Prefecture apparently there were some persons with a mobility disorder swallowed up by tsunami, followed by Deaf persons unable to hear disaster radio and not taking evacuation.

Kentaro met Deaf persons and interpreters when he visited the Prefecture at work one week before the earthquake disaster, some of whom lost life.

On the day when the earthquake disaster occurred, Kentaro had a check-up in the dental clinic near his home. It was an unreasonable experience. There was seemingly an audio evacuation directive then. When he pulled up towel that covered his eyes, he found himself left alone. Although he got angry, he realized, "The people don't know how to communicate with a Deaf patient effectively at a time of disaster as they usually don't associate with persons with disabilities."

When the earthquake disaster occurred, some persons who usually knew Deaf neighbors helped them by telling that tsunami came, and the Deaf neighbors were able to escape safely.

Kentaro says, "It is important that we make people around us notice about "the existence different from themselves" in order to save more lives."

Japanese source:

Popular sign language cafe with Deaf staff in Osaka

The "Deaf Cafe Easy Sign Language" in Osaka
September 7, 2014

The "Deaf Cafe Enjoy Sign Language" (Deaf Cafe手話楽々) in Osaka-shi, which the non-profit organization (NPO) "Deaf Support Osaka" has operated since 2006, currently is gaining popularity in the Kansai region or the metropolitan area. Except for volunteers as an interpreter, twelve Deaf staff work.

The NPO established the cafe as a workshop for the Deaf. Because of the communication barriers faced by the Deaf, they are unsuitable to work in a restaurant or cafe which verbal communication is generally used. The place for the Deaf to work is accordingly restricted. The cafe staff after whom everyone yearns at once is a dream which seems never to come true to them.

Osaka city officials showed unwillingness to approve the opening of a Deaf Cafe at the beginning, saying "There are other places a Deaf person can work". The NPO's officials held on saying, "In order to spread sign language and to heighten the power of the Deaf, we want you to accept our project", and it was realized finally.

The customers are mainly Deaf persons and hearing people interested in sign language. Visitors are also from across Japan, such as Okinawa and Hokkaido, and even overseas. The Deaf Cafe is full during a weekend.

More office workers walk outside drop in the Deaf Cafe these days. "Although it is good that Deaf persons and people interested in sign language visit our cafe, it is best that those who are walking outside come into the cafe aimlessly. Naturally the various kinds of people live in the world, and as long as you say our cafe is new, it is not good."

Japanese source:

Emergency fax to Deaf persons sent 5 hours later at the time of landslide disaster in Hiroshima

September 6, 2014

The first evacuation call was issued to avoid the landslide disaster in Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture around 4:30 in the morning on August 20.

However, the emergency disaster fax for the Deaf was sent at around 9:00am about 5 hours later. It was because the persons in charge was sleeping and did not notice the emergency call.

Although there was no Deaf person was injured or killed, the city officials admitted that correspondence was overdue, and explained and apologized for the circumstances to two organizations of the Deaf in the city September 5.

Japanese sources:

Municipal assembly standing committee in Hyogo Prefecture adopts petition to establish "sign language law"

Inoue Tomofumi (left), president of the Kato Association
of the Deaf, applauds adoption of the petition with
pleasure in the assembly. 

September 4, 2014

The Kato municipal assembly welfare standing committee in Hyogo Prefecture, a part of western Japan, adopted unanimously the petition on September 4 to submit a written opinion to the Government towards establishment of "the sign language law (tentative name)" in order to spread sign language as language in Japan. It was the first for the city committees including Kato-shi in the Kitaharima area. 

It is due to be deliberated and voted on a written opinion proposal by the end of September at a plenary session of the municipal assembly regular meeting, etc.

The Kato Association of the Deaf submitted the petition to the Kato municipal assembly. Inoue Tomofumi (井上智文) and others were present as witnesses at the committee meeting. They complained about the actual condition that it is difficult for the Deaf to communicate with hearing people, and requested to establish a sign language law in order to lead the independent social life, etc. through interpreting on that day.

Although the municipal assembly committee usually votes on the bill after the witnesses leave the assembly room, the committee allowed the Deaf witnesses to stay on that day.

Japanese source:

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:

Deaf runner succeeds in reaching Mount Kilimanjaro summit in Africa

Nagai Hisashi (left) at the summit
of Mount Kilimanjaro
September 4, 2014

Nagai Hisashi (永井恒), 58, a Deaf runner of Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture, challenged climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in the African continent in August, and succeeded in reaching the Gilman's Point (5681 meters) of Mt. Kilimanjaro on August 13.

Nagai gained the mountain-climbing certificate after he gave up climbing to the highest peak Kibo (5865 meters) because of bad weather. He said, "for a Japanese Deaf person who reached the summit, probably I am the first."

Nagai who has so far won the marathon championships in 47 all prefectures across Japan planned to climb the Kinabalu mountain in Malaysia last year. However, Malaysia is not ready to welcome a person with disability for climbing, which made him decide to realize his dream.

He opted for Mt. Kilimanjaro even without a full-scale mountain-climbing experience. Since asked for a hearing guide even in Kilimanjaro, Nagai had to employ the Japanese guide on the spot.

He has visited 15 nations in Africa including Tanzania and 70 nations or more in the world. He plans to visit South America in December. He also mentioned winning the part for aged 60 and over in the marathon convention in every place two years later as a new goal.

Video: How Deaf people in Japan coped after the earthquake

September 4, 2014

BSL Zone uploaded a video with English caption on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in 2011, which shows how Deaf Japanese people coped in the aftermath of the great disasters; an earthquake and a tsunami.

Also in the video Deaf survivors relate in Japanese Sign Language how they reacted or what they saw in sign language.

Sign language cafe "Deaf Hand" popular in Himeji-shi, Hyogo Prefecture

Store Manager Nomura enjoys communication
with a visitor in sign language .
September 4, 2014

The sign language cafe, the "Deaf Hand" located on the fourth floor of the building which overlooks Himeji Castle opens on the second Saturdays. It is a popular place that many Deaf people gather from not only within the Hyogo prefecture but the outside of it and enjoy the conversation in sign language.

Harumi Nomura (野村晴美), 66, a "store manager", goes to the place of business of the non-profit organizaion which manages working training for persons with disabilities in Himeji-shi. She suggested a plan something like the Deaf cafe.

Nomura became deaf when she was a baby owing to a high fever, and she uses sign language for conversation. The NPO manager responded to her request, looked for the place near Himeji Station, and opened the cafe last July.

The "Deaf Hand" also serves as the place of working training. People who visit the cafe would say, "I have a trouble with the order, but here it goes usually smooth," "The connection of a friend also develops so that I can consult about some personal trouble."

Japanese source:

Member of Imperial Family greets with sign language for first time at sign language speech contest in Tokyo

Princess Mako greets using sign language in
"The National Sign Language Speech Contest
for High School Students".

 August 30, 2014

Princess Mako, aged 22  and the eldest daughter of the Prince Akishino family, attended the "The 31st National Sign Language Speech Contest for High School Students" held in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo on August 30. She mixed sign language when greeting.

This was the first time for her to greet by sign language. She said, "I just began to learn sign language now. I hope you all the participants to express a thought or an idea in rich sign language."

*Prince Akishino is the younger brother of the Crown Prince.
*The national contest is held every summer for the hearing high school students who have practiced using sign language.

Japanese sources: