Film "The Tribe": Deaf actress to greet through video remote interpreting first in Japan

April 22, 2015  
Testing VRI in the theater 

The marvelously controversial film titled "The Tribe", which won a Critic Week grand prize at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2014, was released at a theater (Euro Space, etc.) in Tokyo on April 18. 

There are no voices and music at all, and subtitles don't also even exist, no dubbing. All characters are Deaf. Excited tweets are spread over an unprecedented movie experience consisted of only sign language one after another from the audience who has finished seeing it.

The event which is performed using the "video remote  interpreting" system that corporation SHUARU offers will take place on April 24 when a star actress Yana Novikova will greet from Belarus where she currently lives, a kind of the first VRI across the borders.

Japanese source:

Related blog:
Ukrainian Deaf actress visits Japan for her movie "The Tribe"

English article: Deaf writing bar hostess wins assembly seat in Tokyo

April 29, 2015   


As she has overcome her hearing impairment most of her life, a popular Ginza bar hostess also triumphed over an election system stacked against candidates with hearing and speech impediments.
Rie Saito, 31, won an assembly seat in Tokyo's Kita Ward on April 26 despite not being allowed to pass out fliers or her name card, and even prohibited from writing campaign messages on a board to get her message out to voters.

Read more:

First "sign language TV" produced by Deaf persons

Deaf TV show 
April 21, 2015   

Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture:

The NPO corporation "ShuR" in Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture which makes society with sign language anytime and anywhere has produced and delivered a sign language variety show titled "GO! GO! Sign Language World!" first on the Internet in Japan since January.

Deaf persons take the leading part, doing production of the program. It is online twice every month on the 5th and the 25th for 15 minutes each time.

The contents of the TV show are mainly entertainment contents including a joke, a quiz, an audience participatory show, etc. There is no sound, but subtitles for the hearing persons who don't understand sign language as well as Deaf persons enjoy themselves, too.

Japanese source:

"GO! GO! Sign Language World!" website (Japanese) : 

Deaf woman wins her first council election in Akashi-shi

April 27, 2015   
Yanetani Atsuko appeals through 
interpreting by her daughter.

Akashi-shi, Hyogo Prefecture:

Yanetani Atsuko, 55, a Deaf-born woman and a board member of the Akashi Deaf Society, has won her first election by the Akashi city council election which counted the votes on April 26.

Yanetani commented signing enthusiastically, "I'd like to aim at the city where everyone lives comfortably regardless of disabilities.

After graduating from the Hyogo Prefectural Kobe School for the Deaf (present Kobe Special Support School for the Deaf) at Kobe-shi in the prefecture, she worked at a factory in Akashi-shi. When volunteering after the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit the prefecture in 1995, she felt that support to the victims with disability was insufficient, and so she joined the Akashi Deaf Society's secretariat and began support activity for people with disability. Since 2007 she serves as an advisor for persons with disabilities in the city.

Yanetani decided to run for a city council election because she wanted to get involved in administration as a councilor on behalf of the disability community. She gave a speech in front of the station by sign-language interpreted by her daughters and supporters in the election race. While 37 people ran to fixed number 30, she was elected ranked as the 18th.

Akashi-shi has carried out the "Sign Language Regulation" this April. Yanetani was on the study committee related to the regulation establishment.

As sign-language interpretation at a council meeting becomes indispensable, the city council secretariat will consult with  Yanetani about necessary support.

Japanese sources:

English article: Two Deaf women win seats in assembly through polls

April 27, 2015
Saito Rie uses an electronic 
tablet to respond to reporters.


A former nightclub hostess with a hearing disability was elected to the assembly of Kita Ward, Tokyo. 
Known for her widely acclaimed 2009 autobiography “Hitsudan Hostess” (Writing hostess), 31-year-old Rie Saito was not the only hearing-impaired candidate to be elected during Sunday’s second round of unified local elections. 
Atsuko Yanetani, 55, won a seat on the city assembly in Akashi-shi, Hyogo Prefecture.

Yanetani Atsuko signs to express 
her happiness at winning a seat. 

Read more:

English article: Speech to text powered software developed

April 19, 2015 
"LiveTalk" makes accessible communications 
for persons with hearing loss at a meeting.


A new software called "LiveTalk" by Fujitsu solves communication problems in meetings attended by members with hearing loss. The software is designed for meetings involving people sharing information.

The tool basically uses speech to text conversion software to convert whatever the speaker is saying into a readable text in computer screens. This helps people with hearing loss to read whatever the speaker or another participant of the meeting is saying on their screens.

Read more:

Japanese sources:

English article: Humanoid Robot at Customer Service Performs Walking, Talking, Sign Language

April 17, 2015 


Aiko Chihira, Toshiba's new humanoid robot will soon work in a Tokyo department store in Nihonbashi, a business district in Tokyo

It can walk, speak Japanese, and even do sign language.  

Read more:

Two Deaf women who ran for nationwide elections win seat

April 27, 2015

Two Deaf women who ran for a seat were elected successfully as a result of vote counting of the nationwide local elections on April 26.

One person is Saito Rie, 31, well known as a "writing hostess", won her first election of the Kita-ku assembly as an officially recognized member in Tokyo.

Another is Yanetani Atsuko, 55, an independent candidate, winning a seat in the Akashi-shi assembly in Hyogo Prefecture. She is born Deaf, and during election activity, her daughters interpreted while Yanetani made an appeal in sign language.

Japanese sources:

Prefecture puts effort into disability sports

April 17, 2015  

Tottori Prefecture:

The Tottori Prefecture Office in western Japan has established the conference related to the sports promotion for the special support school students to plan for their competitive ability improvement at the school and substantiality of the sports especially for the national disabilities sports event and the paralympics, holding the first meeting on April 14.

Total of about 20 people from the nine prefecture special support schools, including the school for the visually impaired, the school for the deaf, etc., officials concerned and organizations related to disability sports participated.

At the meeting, they shared information on sport events and  a practice meeting, discussing the problems when a person with disabilities plays sports and necessary support.

The conference will be held regularly further and develop a policy next fiscal year.

Japanese source:

Training for information support volunteers at National Athletic Meet starts

April 12, 2015  
The training program with which 
650 people have registered starts.

Morioka-shi, Iwate Prefecture:

The training program for "information support volunteers" by the prefecture organizing committee of the National Athletic Meet and the National Disability Sports Meet, which will be held in 2016, has started in Morioka-shi located in northeastern Japan on April 11.

All kinds of training related to note taking, sign language and writing will be provided from now on. The participants learn how to convey information to the Deaf athletes and audience during an opening the closing ceremonies and sports venues. 

A training program for note taking was held at the Prefecture Information Center for the Visually impaired and Deaf on the day, which 44 people attended.

Japanese source:

Related blog:
Volunteers apply successively for 2016 sports events

Deaf guide service for Deaf tourist starts 

April 11, 2015   
A volunteer tour guide (left) explains 
an interesting spot to a Deaf group.

Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa Prefecture:

Kanazawa-shi located in Japan's northern region made the volunteer tour guide who guides in sign language for the Deaf tourist start from April. It is the first time to provide such a service by an autonomous body nationwide.

The Kanazawa-shi Welfare Society of the Deaf, entrusted by the city office, put into effect. To work as a tour guide, four Deaf residents completed a sightseeing course at Kanazawa Volunteer University.

The Society already offered about 30 cases last year. They will have a group of 20-30 Deaf persons from the metropolitan area in May and June.

The tour guide is free, and the tourist is required to pay the transportation cost, the entrance fee, etc. for the tour guide.

Japanese sources:

Investigation found more students with disabilities enrolled in higher education

April 10, 2015  

An investigation of the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) showed on April 10 that the number of the students with disabilities enrolled in a university/junior college/ technical college was 14,127 current as of May 1, 2014; more 678 than the previous year, which makes the largest number since an investigation took place in 2005. 

All 1,185 schools in Japan, including the national, public, and private schools were involved in the investigation.

It was 70% of 833 schools that enrolled a student  with disabilities; 3,037 students with delicate health which was dominant, followed by 2,722 developmental disability,  2,534 physical impairment, and 1,654 hearing loss/speech disorder.

It was found 639 schools doing some support, such as arrangement of a special classroom, the location of a seat, note taking, interpreting, etc.

Japanese source:

Deafblind woman writes book on her life

April 10, 2015
New book 
Ara Miyuki helped by interpretation 
through an expanded finger braille.

 Ara Miyuki, 26, lost both hearing and sight at the same time due an incurable disease at the age of 22. She recently wrote a book titled "A Future through a Palm: The Story of a Female University Student Who Become Helen Keller" (Asahi Shimbun Publication), based on her suffering experience that she went through. Ara says, "I want to say you can find happiness depending on how you feel."

When she was a student majoring in French at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, light and sound were taken away by the sickness that a tumor can have a nerve all over the body. After spending about one year at a hospital, she returned to school. Her friends at the university helped her with taking a note and accompanying her to school back and forth, etc, and she graduated last year.

She was unable to accept a sudden disability, and kept crying at a hospital. Before starting writing a book, she asked for a record of a nurse and doctors about her medical situation in reference. She says, "It was necessary to look at the part where I was weak in order to advance forward myself". The information terminal by a braille was used for writing.

Ara is one of the board members of the Tokyo DeafBlind Organization, carrying on lecture activity at present.

Japanese source:

Japan Team wins five medals at Winter Deaflympics in Russia

April 7, 2015
Harada Noboru, gold medalist

The 18th Winter Deaflympics took place at Khanty-Mansiysk, Magnitogorsk in Russia on March 28 - April 5, the first time ever in eight years.

From 27 countries around the world, 344 athletes (251 men and 93 women) gathered and competed.

Japan dispatched its national team of total 48 persons (22 athletes and 26 officials/staff). The athletes did their best in winter sports items, wining five medals (three gold, one silver and bronze each), and achieving a goal of getting 5 medals.

Harada Noboru, 38, a Tochigi Prefecture native,  who got two gold medals, performed a great achievement of three straight victories by snowboard parallel giant slalom. He was praised and looked up to as "samurai of a snowboard" by the Russian Deaf sports fan.

Also Hanashima Ryoko, 35, a Kanagawa Prefecture native, was the second gold medalist for a snowboard half pipe women. She served as a flag bearer for the Japan Team at the opening ceremony. 

Japanese sources:

Winter Deaflympics official website (English):

Prefecture to rent assistance dogs to persons with disabilities

April 9, 2015  

Hyogo Prefecture:

Hyogo Prefecture next to Osaka in western Japan calls for application of the assistance dog loan for a person with disability. Total of three dogs including a guide dog, nursing-care dog and hearing dog, will be lent out for free of charge.

There are conditions for the application: 
-Prefecture residence, 
-Willing to participate in social activities such as starting working,
-Not admitted to any disability facilities, etc.

For a Deaf person, it is required to own the official disability record.  

Required documents are submitted to the Disability Welfare Department/Section concerned of a resident municipality by May 8. There is an interview, and when passing, the applicant receives a training with the assistant dog. 

Japanese source:

Hereditary hearing loss: improvement by gene therapy on mouse experiment

April 6, 2015

A research team of Juntendo University and other  announced on April 6 that they succeeded in the world for the first time in an experiment of the mouse which makes the hearing convalescent by a gene therapy for the most type of hereditary hearing loss.

Hereditary hearing loss appears by the percentage of one person against about 2,000 people. There are reports on more than 60 kinds of mutation, but mutation of a "GJB2" gene also accounts for half as a cause of gene change.

The research team made the mouse that lacked a "GJB2" gene, and chipped the gene in it soon after its birth, finding the hearing ability of the mouse was improved by 10~40% compared to the mouse without the gene.  

Japanese sources:

French movie of DeafBlind girl to be captioned for showing in Japan

April 6, 2015  
Woking on a barrier free edition of the film

"Marie’s Story" (French: Marie Heurtin) is a  French biographical film directed by Jean-Pierre Améris in 2014, is based on the true story of Marie Heurtin—a young girl who was born deaf and blind in late 19th century France. 

The actress who played the role of Mary was a twenty-year-old Deaf woman herself. 

The film which won the Variety Piazza Grande Award at the 67th Locarno International Film Festival will be shown in June, 2015 in Japan.

A move has been promoted to produce a barrier free edition of the film for the public as an opportunity; inserting subtitles for a Deaf/hard of hearing person, and an audio information with supplementing the situation explanation for a person with visual impairment in order to enjoy the movie well.

Japanese source:

Film review (English):

Watch Marie Heurtin Full Film (French):

Ukrainian Deaf actress visits Japan for her movie "The Tribe"

April 4, 2015
In front of the film poster Yana Novikova 
states, "When you make a strong 
determination, you will find the way"

The Ukrainian movie titled "The Tribe", chosen as a critic week grand prize of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival's International Critics' Week section, will  be released at Euro Space in Shibuya in Tokyo, etc. from April 18.

Yana Novikova, 21, the star actress, explains in sign language, "We say a thing using the eyes and gestures. Even without any spoken word, you can act".

The story of the movie is related to an organization called "the tribe" at the boarding school for the deaf. In the movie, only sign language used, even neither subtitles nor caption and dubbing. This will force an audience to imagine or guess while watching it.

Novikova, from Belarus who played a role of the girl friend of the tribe leader, became sick soon after she was born and lost hearing. 

She dreamed to become an actress and auditioned for an Ukrainian theatre group, but was disqualified. Fortunately she met Director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, 40, who had come to look for a Deaf actor for his movie. 

Japanese sources:

All prefecture and city government assemblies approve opinion document on "sign language law"

April 3, 2015  

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf based in Tokyo reportedly stated that by April 3 all the prefecture and city government assemblies across Japan have approved the opinion document which admits sign language as a language and asks the establishment of a "Japanese Sign Language Law" in order to enhance the environment for the use of the sign language.

The main contents of the sign language bill prepared by the Federation includes the obligation of the government and each local self-governing body to put a policy about language activity of sign language and cultural promotion into effect and plan for promotion of all policies about sign language. More chance to learn sign language at special support schools, introduce interpreting in a TV program, etc. are expected by establishment of a Sign Language Law.

The Federation was strengthening an approach through its member groups throughout the country, and more than 1,700 local government assemblies approved an opinion document or adopted petition as a whole.

However, against the local movement,  there are no positive movements for legal establishment by the government or the Diet.

Japanese source:

Disabilities support center opened

April 3, 2015
Karatsu-shi Disabilities Support Center "LINK"

Karatsu-shi, Saga Prefecture:

The Karatsu-shi Disabilities Support Center called "LINK" was opened in an old Japanese-style hotel in the  city in Japan's southern island on April 1. The city bought and maintained the hotel closed in 2010.

The Center has the function of the city's  superannuated welfare hall for people with disabilities as well as the disabilities support department located in the city office building, to concentrate the function of the welfare for people with disabilities aiming at base facilities in the city where consistent support will be provided.

"LINK", the new name of the center, represents a 
wish that everyone is connected in spite of a presence of a disability and lives a better life.

Japanese source:

Deaf woman newly hired promises hard work

April 2, 2015

Kusatsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture:

The fiscal year starts on April 1 for every field including governments, companies, schools, etc. in Japan.

The Shiga Prefecture Small and Medium Enterprises Association held a combined initiation ceremony for 39 new employees hired by 19 companies at a hotel in Kusatsu-shi next to Kyoto in western Japan on April 1.

The Association has held the event since 18 years ago in order for the new employees to realize the small number of employment by their company and to promote the awareness that they have stepped out to the business world.

Okawa Aoi, 22, newly hired by the real estate business called "Peer Life" in Otsu-shi, stood on the platform representing the new employees of each company. She spoke about her deafness and then made a resolution: "We have been supported by others until this day, but it will be our turn to contribute to society. We're determined to work well and to try to grow better".

Japanese source:

Deaf man in samurai age played in TV drama: Sugi Toshisaburo

Morinaga Yuki, a hearing actor
The main character of a long-running historical drama series on NHK TV titled "Hana Moyu", which is being broadcast since January, 2015, is Sugi Fumi, the younger sister of Yoshida Shoin, the well-known educator in the late 1800's. 

Sugi Toshisaburo, their younger brother who was born Deaf and the youngest child of the Sugi family, has appeared on this drama, played by a hearing actor Morinaga Yuki.

In the drama, Toshisaburou is thoughtful and kind, drawn as the existence with which the family's bond is always connected. He is expressed as the best understanding and encouraging person for his reserved elder sister Fumi.

According to related materials, "Toshisaburo was polite and cared for the people around him". At that time there was no formal sign language yet, and apparently the home signs were used in the Sugi family. 

In the drama, when necessary, Toshisaburo played by Morinaga always carries the paper and the brush with him for a conversation by means of writing, or uses a stick to write on the ground when wanting to tell something. 

Morinaga says, "I have tried to use a body movement to convey a message because I am not expected to use spoken language, consulting with the director and a Deaf advisor.

Japanese sources:

Related blog:
Sugi Toshisaburo (1845-1876): Deaf-Mute brother of famous philosopher

Deaf cartoonist engages in projects

March 29, 2015  
Uehara Mami with her hearing dog
Illustration of the picture-card 
show that Uehara drew 

Yonabaru-choi, Okinawa Prefecture:

The Deaf-born woman named Uehara Mami, 51, who lives in Okinawa, Japan's southern island, liked drawing a picture when she was young and learned an illustration in earnest at a design college.

She published a book about her life with a hearing dog as well as other three comic books so far. She drew an illustration of a picture-card show about a folk tale in her area which is appreciated by kindergarten children and others.

Uehara is also working on e-book of the other cartoon series while challenges to draw a cartoon in order to stop euthanization of dogs and cats at present.

Japanese source: