Event held to promote understanding of service dogs and their role

An event, titled "What is the service dog?", took place in Shiga Prefecture on December 24-27. It aimed at greater understanding about the service dogs that help persons with disabilities live independently and their social participation.

There are three kinds of service dogs defined by the Law Concerning Assistance Dogs for the Persons with Disabilities; the guide dog for the persons with visual impairment, the service dog for the persons for physical disability and the hearing dog for the Deaf.

While there are 1045 guide dogs in the whole country, there are 48 service dogs, and only 19 hearing dogs.

The photographs and the explanation panels related to the training of these dogs, how they grow, their work, etc. were exhibited in the hall.

The participants touched the dogs, and observed how the person with visual impairment and the guide dog actually worked together on Dec. 26. On the next day there was the demonstration of three kinds of service dogs for 30 minutes for each.

Japanese source:

Japanese International Sign Language Interpreters & Guides Association

The association was formed on August 30, 2008.

They will teach the International Signs classes in the Tokyo area, scheduled
for January for three months.

For more information, click the following English site :


Deaf film festival to be held in Niigata City in March, 2010

Committee members discuss
on the plan for the film festival.
(photo: osaka.yomiuri.co.jp)

Seven instructors of a group in Niigata City, called "The Sign Language Lecture 'The Hands'", has formed the Niigata Deaf Film Festival organizing committee" with the aim to offer every one, regardless of being Deaf or hearing, the opportunity to enjoy the Deaf movies.

The committee plans to hold the festival in March, 2010, advancing the selection of the movies with sign language or visual expressions used in the work.

"The Sign Language Lecture 'The Hands', located in the city in Niigata Prefecture, a northern part of Japan, has organized the sign language speech contest, the signed song contest and this time is the Deaf film festival in order to promote the understanding and spread of sign language.

The film, titled "Businessman Life" (2008), etc. are scheduled. It was produced by Ayako Imamura, a Deaf visual creator, featuring on the life of a Deaf worker in a general enterprise.

Also the committee has called for six more films or independent productions that run for 30-60 minutes. Also volunteers including university students for the festival are welcome.

One of the committee members says, "We expect the festival will make people recognize the sign language is a true language, not a simple tool for welfare".

Japanese source:

Santa from Finland meets Deaf preschool children in Kobe area

Children learn from Santa who teaches
Finnish sign language meaning "Merry Christmas".
(photo: www.kobe-np.co.jp)

A Christmas party was held at the Koshien junior college in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture on December 19. The children from the nearby Koshien Kindergarten and the Prefectural Kobato Special Support School for the Deaf were invited .

Father Christmas also visited from Finland as a "surprise guest", and the children were overjoyed.

This event was a part of the project that the Finland Father Christmas Society in Japan would introduce Santa to the municipality from which the largest number of cards or letters have been sent to Finland across the country. Nishinomiya City in the Kobe area was selected as the first place.

At the junior college, the shout of joy went up from about 100 children and parents who gathered when the Santa of the height about two meters with the pure-white beard appeared in the Christmas party sponsored by the college students.

After the students sang the song of "Jingle bell", etc. by sign language, Santa greeted in English, and showed Finnish sign language that meant "Merry Christmas".

The commemoration group picture was taken in the garden, and Santa handed the Christmas card and the sticker to each child.

Japanese source:

Deaf saleswomen with a smile at the cake shops in Stations in Tokyo area

Deaf saleswomen working
at the cake shop in Yurakucho Station
(photo:www. asahi.com)

There is a cake shop, called "Rapport" meaning the bond of the human hearts, in the vicinity of the ticket gate each at JR Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station. Eight Deaf women aged between 27 and 60's work at these shops.

When a customer comes to the shop, Nobuko Okazaki (58), one of the saleswomen, shows the board with a smile. It says, "We are Deaf taking charge of this shop. Please be understanding".

The customer, at first surprised for a moment, would understand before long. When to order the kind and the number of cakes, some person uses the touch panel; or some writes on paper.

Okazaki says to the customer who purchased the cake, "Thank you" from the bottom of her heart though the pronunciation is not clear.

A hearing man (65) who resides in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture is a patron; whenever happening to pass near the shop, he buys one cake. He says, "I think that it is possible to help them who have the handicap even a little as I live on the pension. However, their warm smile have rather encourage me".

The East Japan Railway Retail Net (former East Japan kiosk) opened the shop as part of the employment for the persons with disabilities in 2003.

Until then the work for them had been only a stock control, etc. To expand their work activity, the company developed the system such as touch panels to help communication.

The Deaf saleswomen communicate one another in sign language, and with the company headquarters through the fax and e-mail.

Okazaki, who was born deaf, learned to lipread her mother. At the hearing high school, she used to ask the teacher after the class about what was taught in writing. After bringing up a child she visited the recruitment of the employment agency after the half a year of opening the cake shop. "I was interested because I have never heard of any shop managed only by Deaf people." She has been hired ever since.

As the cake shop is located in the station, people often ask for the direction to some place. When they learn these saleswomen are Deaf, they would click their tongue. Some would leave them with a few parting shots. However, Okazaki doesn't mind it, just disregards.

"It is a smile that the customer and we smoothly communicate each other. I always want to make our cake shop friendly to anyone with the smile".

Japanese source:

Special parking area for persons with disabilities to be provided by the Road Traffic Law revision in April, 2010

Special parking area mark
(photo: www.yomiuri.co.jp)

The government decided in the Cabinet Council on December 15 to amend the Road Traffic Law enforcement order to provide the senior citizens and the pregnant women, etc. with a part of the parking lot that had been installed on the road in front of government and municipal offices, and hospitals for exclusive use. It will be enforced on April 19, 2010.

The drivers aged 70 and older, pregnant women (includes within eight weeks after the birth), and persons with disabilities including Deaf persons and persons with sight impairment are allowed to park in a special area.

In order to use it, it is possible to get the special parking mark in the nearest police station, and put it on the place such as dashboards to be seen easily (photo).

When a general car without the mark parks, the driver will be charged 2000 yen more than the fine for usual violation; e.g. 17,000 yen for the driver of the standard car.

Japanese source:

Deaf barber receives official commendation for independent persons with disability

Muramasa Honda, a Deaf barber,
tells the mayor about his commendation.
(photo: www.nishinippon.co.jp)

Muramasa Honda (78), who operates the barbershop at Yasshiro City in Kumamoto Prefecture in the Japanese southern island, received the 2009 Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare commendation as one of the self-reliant persons with disabilities across the country.

Muramasa, deaf since the birth, has continued to operate the barbershop for about 50 years, pleasantly says, "I feel very rewarded though there were many happenings up to now".

He started to work for a barbershop at the age of 22, and set up his own barbershop five years later at the present place. He and his Deaf wife, Kuniko (73), have managed it since then.

He also has kept the volunteer work for 20 years; he visits the facilities of persons with disabilities in the city once a month and gives them a haircut.

Muramasa and Kuniko both get very tired after they fix hairs of 30 persons, at most about 50, from 9:00 to 16:00. Still, they say, "we feel encouraged when someone tells us he likes our haircut work".

The couple visited the Mayor Fukushima in the Yasshiro city office on December 14, and told him that they went to Tokyo on December 3rd to receive the Ministry commendation. The mayor praised them, saying, "It must be a great honor".

Japanese source:

New train cars installed with visual light for Deaf commuters

The new vehicle is lowered down
on railway track by a large-scale crane car

The Nagaragawa Railway company worked to put the train cars that had been newly bought on the railway track at Seki Station in Gifu Prefecture, a central part of Japan. The operation will start at the end of December, 2009.

A new diesel vehicle has a long seat facing on each side, with 107 capacity (39 seats) by 17 meters in length, 2.7 meters in width, 4.1 meters in height, and the weight of 28.5 tons.

The expenses of 115 million yen to buy the cars came with the full amount assistance from the government, the prefecture, and four cities and towns in place along railway-tracks. it was the third time to install the new cars.

The same painting as the old vehicle bought in 1986 was applied to the new vehicle.

Moreover, the visual light that informs of opening and closing in the car at the getting on and off entrance is installed so that the Deaf commuters may get off easily.

Japanese source:

Japanese folk tale DVD presented to Deaf children in Switzerland

Takeo Chokai (center) and the students
at Shikoku University show a sign that means
"It is good" or "Goodness" in Swiss sign language.
(photo: mytown.asahi.com)

Takeo Chokai (40), a Deaf company employee, and hearing students of Shikoku University in Tokushima Prefecture make original DVD and send it to exchange by sign language with Deaf school children in Switzerland.

Takeo translated a Japanese folk tale into the Swiss sign language, and the students created the play based on the translation, which is recorded in DVD.

They make one DVD for a year. The third work was completed this September and was sent out.

Japanese source:

Deaf bar hostess makes it to comic, promoting the sale

Rie Saito, Deaf bar hostess,
in a sexy Santa Claus attire
at the sale interview.
(photo: news.google.co.jp)

(photo: www.sponichi.co.jp)

Rie Saito (25) who has become a popular hostess in Ginza, a busy Tokyo town, because of the conversation in writing while being Deaf.

She held the sale interview of comic, titled "The hostess who talks in writing" (Kobunsha Publishing) in Tokyo on December 15.

She appeared with a sexy Santa Claus-like costume of 20 centimeters on the knee, saying with a shy smile, "I am feeling restless somehow as I always wear a kimono".

Rie was pleased with making of the cartooned autobiography which was depicted from the upbringing to the success as a hostess in an original art of serving with a brush. She said, "The comic is a work by which even I was impressed. I was moved deeply to wish to express my gratitude".

The drama will be made by the promising young actress, Keiko Kitagawa, starring next January. Rie's eyes shone with happiness, saying humbly, "I am excited about it and looking forward to it".

Related links:

Japanese source:

English class activities at school for the Deaf open to public

The Deaf child (right) attempts to communicate
in English with the use of sign language.
(photo: www.sanin-chuo.co.jp)

The foreign language activity will be required to take place at the elementary schools nationwide in fiscal year 2011.

The Matsue School for the Deaf in Shimane Prefecture, which has participated in the practice research, held the research workshop on foreign language teaching open to the public on December 9.

The school is the only special support school among 423 research nationwide schools. The teachers have searched for what appropriate method should be used in teaching the deaf children the foreign language.

The research schools work on the practice research on effective guidance and the evaluation with "English Notebook" as the common teaching material that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology develops and a spoken teaching material, etc.

The Matsue School has searched for the foreign language activity that the Deaf children will happily learn in April, 2009.

On December 9, the research workshop took place in the class with one fifth grader, in which about 30 people such as school personnel participated.

Mai Tanaka (11), the fifth grader, and her two teachers started greetings in English. She learned the intonation of the pronunciation by taking the rhythm with the body. She practiced a simple English phrase such as "What do you want?" as if she buys a favorite thing.

Tanaka enjoyed the 45-minute class including American sign language, as well as the English conversation activity.

Chitose Sakane, the head teacher, spoke, "We intend to enhance the elementary classes in the future. Our approach here will be a hint to other schools".

Japanese source:

DVD on "SOS card system" produced to help communication access for Deaf

Yutaka Noguchi(52), head of Kyushu branch
of the Japanese Construction Society of the Deaf
shows the SOS card.
(photo: www.nishinippon.co.jp)

To attempt the spread of the "SOS card system" that helps the Deaf access the communication in the state of emergency, the Japanese Construction Society of the Deaf Kyushu branch produced DVD.

The card system, which was designed by the Society, is composed of 5 cards as a set with pictures of human being. You can point one of these pictures to indicate where the pain is in the body and the level of pain.

It is a fact that the use of the card system is hardly widespread though the fire department headquarters, etc. are disposing the cards to the ambulance cars in Fukuoka prefecture, a part of the southern island of Japan.

Therefore, the society planned a DVD production to promote the use of the card system about two years ago, and filmed with the donation of about 600,000 yen in the beginning of last month.

The DVD entitled "Card SOS that speaks for you" is about ten minutes, in which Noguchi and a member of the fire department headquarters are performing.

The DVD shows how to use of the card, the method of the emergency call using Global Positioning System (GPS) function of the cellular phone, etc. with sign language and caption.

The production of 200 cards have been completed in the beginning of December and distributed to the main hospitals, and the local government and municipal offices, etc.

Noguchi appeals, "The cards can be made with a little sum. We want to distribute them to more ambulance vehicles and communal facilities".

Japanese source:

Road Traffic Law Revised: Only 45 Deaf persons granted driving license for a year

The acquisition condition of the driving license for the Deaf was eased by the Road Traffic Law revision in June, 2008.

However, an actual number of the Deaf persons who got driving license remains low.

According to the report of the National Police Agency, there are only 45 Deaf persons who have gotten the license since a year after the revised law was enforced.

Pointing out that it was because there are few driving schools with the instructor who can sign, etc., the Deaf organizations appeal, "We demand the driving schools to be well prepared to meet the needs of Deaf clients".

The revised law allows the Deaf person, whose hearing is so severe that the hearing aid is unavailable, is eligible to get driving license. When to drive, he/she must install a wide mirror in the vehicle to check the rear which is easier than a usual rear view mirror. Also the "Butterfly" sticker is required to put on the vehicle to show the driver is Deaf.

Related link:

Source in Japanese:

Princess Kiko attends meeting with mothers of Deaf children in Tokyo

Princess Kiko makes a speech
using sign language
(photo: sankei.jp.msn.com)

Princess Kiko, the wife of Akishinonomiya who is the younger brother of the Crown Prince, attended the 32nd meeting in honor of the mothers who brought up their Deaf children, at the Parliamentary Museum in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo on December 7.

She made a speech in sign language.

Princess Kiko wished "the world that Deaf people and hearing people share the understanding and support each other".

She was touched with the hardship of the parents who had supported the activity of the Deaf, and said in encouragement, "I deeply respect the parents who had firmly brought up their children with strong courage and hope in spite of being confronted with the difficulty".

Source in Japanese:

Prefecture to support spread of sign language by budget draft for next fiscal year

Shinji Hirai, the Tottori Prefectural Governor in the western part of Japan, proposed to sum up the cost of the sign language circles to the budget draft in the coming year, with the idea of advancing the measure to increase the number of those who sign.

It was what he replied to the assembly member's general question at the prefecture assembly on December 3.

The police offices, the fire departments, and the public transportation facilities have originally taken measures to promote the social participation of the Deaf.

Governor Hirai explained, "It is necessary to adjust each measures. We will check them by the site principle, and relate to the policy as the prefecture playing a center role".

On the day, the question from the assembly member was interpreted for the observers. Also Governor Hirai introduced himself in sign language before he answered.

Source in Japanese:

Deaf organization submits signature to improve interpreting service restricted by independence support law

The "communications support service" that provides the interpreting service has been conduced by municipalities since 2006 due to the Disability Independence Support Law enforcement. It was previously executed by prefecture administrations. Ever since then, the low quality of service and the difference of service among the municipalities have been pointed out.

While the Takamatsu City office has not been possible to offer the service to send interpreters or note-takers at an urgent time on holiday and nighttime, the Kagawa Prefecture Association of the Deaf submitted the signature of about 11,600 people to the city for the improvement.

They requested that the service should not be limited to the city, but to the domestic whole area, an interpreting service should be available at the weekend and nighttime due to sudden illness, etc.

Before the law enforcement in 2006, the Kagawa Prefecture Welfare Center, which the interpreting service was consigned by the prefecture, has met the urgent needs of interpreting at nighttime and holiday.

However, the group trusted by the city does not allocate the staff at the weekend and nighttime. Moreover, the city authority limits the district to the city region based on the guideline of the communication support service, except when the mayor approves the request for a medical check, a job interview, etc.

Masahiro Hayashi, the president of the Association points out that the limitation of service targets increased.

He says, "Even if we sponsors the study meeting concerning the pension system or the lifestyle diseases such as diabetics, we request for the interpreting service, and they refuses it saying that it was not at all related to the city event".

According to the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, the quality decrease in similar service is noticed in Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefectures. There is a municipality that demands the consumer, who asks for the service, to pay 10 percent of the cost, too.

Mitsuji Hisamatsu, the manager of the Federation headquarters in Tokyo, says "Not only the Deaf but also the hearing benefit from the communications support service. It should be guaranteed as a basic right".

On the other hand, Takamatsu City officials say, "We hope we have the opportunity to discuss while paying attention to how the law will be applied".

Source in Japanese:

"Persons with Disabilities Week" currently celebrated in Japan

The Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, a declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations, was made on December 9, 1975.

Moreover, the Disabled Persons Fundamental Law in Japan mandates to celebrate the "Persons with Disabilities Week" during December 3-9 every year.

Related events annually conducted:

-Essay Contest focused on experiences related to disability

-Poster Contest for the the "Persons with Disabilities Week"

-Learning how to think properly

-Awareness on disabilities

-Public opinion poll concerning persons with disabilities

-The Prime Minister commendation to individuals who contributed to promote the welfare of persons with disabilities

Lecture meeting concerning African sign languages to be held at Osaka in December

The Kansai Japanese Sign Language Society will hold the sixth lecture meeting on December 6, Sunday, 11:00-12:30 at Kwansei Gakuin University in Osaka City.

The theme will be "A Current of African Sign Languages Research: A report on the World Congress of African Linguistics".

The African sign languages, which were a theme with extremely scarce previous works, has been a field where the attempt of the research is progressing rapidly in recent years.

The 6th World Congress of African Linguistics" (WOCAL6), held at the University of Colognein in Germany in August, 2009, formed a new session on sign language for the first time in the history of this academic society.

Dr. Nobuyuki Kamei, a hearing lecturer of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Asia Africa Institute for Research in Linguistic Culture, has chiefly done the site investigation concerning the Deaf communities in the west and central parts of Africa in late the 1980's.

For this lecture meeting, he will introduce the trend of the sign language research observed at the World Congress of African Linguistics in addition to the result of his fieldwork, and describe the outcome and the issues.

Dr. Kamei's personal website (English):

Source in Japanese:
DEAF-NEWS (subscription)

Local Deaf theater company to perform emphasizing on the importance of life in December

The theatrical company members practice
with the every part of the body to express a frog.
(photo: www.chunichi.co.jp)

The theatrical company of the Deaf, called "The Deaf Theater Ibuki" located in Gifu City, will show the play with the theme of the importance of life at the Gifu City Cultural Center in Gifu Prefecture on December 12.

The play is planned because lots of sad things that ignore a life such as murders, suicides, etc., have happened nowadays.

Yoriko Kawai, a company leader, suddenly stopped the member's acting in the practice place of the theatrical company in the end of November. She blushed with anger and warned him in sign language severely.

The success of the performance in JSL largely depends on visual expressions. She explains, "If you play with the use of hands in signing, this will surely tire and bore the audience. You must convey every meaning with the use of all facial and body expressions, too". She pays attention to every movement of the hand of members.

The play is about a frog as a main character. He has dreamed to come out of a tiny pond. When he dashes out from the pond and climbs the tree, he sees a depository for kites.

The frog witnesses the world of the law of the jungle that the living thing can eat one after another, and understands how happy the daily life that one shares with his companions is.

Kawai wishes, "As happiness and the life are natural every day, I hope the audience will remember they are not alone through the play".

The reputed theatrical company has performed many times for these 20 years. About 20 members aged from 20 to 70 will play as the frog, the kite, and the snake, etc. The narration will be provided.

Source in Japanese: