Deaf woman rejected for sign language interpreting to file a suit against city office

February 28, 2012

IKEGAWA Yoko (40), a Deaf office worker living in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, filed a suit for compensatory damages against the Takamatsu City Office at the Takamatsu District Court on February 28. The city did not approve her request for the sign-language interpreter dispatch to the outskirts of the city, which she says their act infringes Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees the right to know, etc. She asks for  about 110,000 yen as compensation.

Although the revised Disabled Persons' Fundamental Law which includes expansion of the information means for the persons with disabilities, such as sign language, was enforced in August, 2011, the city did not revise its guideline to dispatch the sign-language interpreter only in the city as a principle. Yoko's lawsuit will question about the city system.

She decided to attend the guardian briefing session of the vocational school in Tokyo where her eldest hearing daughter (18) wished to enter in June, 2011, Yoko applied for dispatch of sign-language interpreting to the city. However, based on the dispatch guideline, the city declined her application.  

So she covered the expense of 5140 yen at her own cost and participated in the guardian briefing session in Tokyo.

The city officials suppose that sign-language interpreting dispatch must be restricted in the city except "the case which the mayor admits being required especially", such as entrance and a graduation ceremony, a PTA meeting, educational consultation, etc." out of the city.

Yoko, whose daughter will attend the vocational school this spring, said, "I was judged by the city that the guardian briefing session was unimportant."

She said in anger, "My desire for doing everything such as child-rearing, education, etc. like ordinary parents has been trampled down."

"I had the only way that I had to find what the vocational school is like directly, because I am always concerned with my daughter's future. So I decided 
to file a lawsuit  against the city for the future of the Deaf people who would benefit by such a sign language interpreting service."

Japanese original article: 

Related link: 
Deaf woman appeals due to application for sign language service rejected

Study session held to discuss the issues on Deaf victims in disaster

February 19, 2012

The study session on the measures for the Deaf victims against calamities was held in Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki Prefecture in the southern island of Japan (Kyushu) on February 19. The Deaf disaster victims tend to fail in getting important information, including an alarm etc., at the time of an earthquake or the occurrence of tsunami.

The Deaf persons and supporters from three prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima) hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake told experiences, which the participants discussed for the necessary measures.

The Miyagi Prefecture Office arranged the study session, cosponsored by the Prefecture Association of the Deaf. About 200 Deaf persons, families and sign language interpreters, and cities and towns in charge of welfare participated.

Vice-Chairman Takashima Sachiko of the Iwate Prefecture Association of the Deaf said that the information on water, food, etc. did not get across to the Deaf evacuees in the shelter, who had a hard time then. She said, "Because the surrounding people do not notice that there is a Deaf person nearby, their support to him/her is always delayed. So it is vital for the Deaf to tell people about yourself for help."

On the other hand, Shoji Youko of the Great East Japan Earthquake Deaf relief Miyagi headquarters pointed out, "There was no list of names because of the personal information protection law, and it is hard to check Deaf disaster victims' safety immediately."

Saito Senei, a staff of the Fukushima Association of the Deaf mentioned the nuclear power plant disaster, "the information on the plant situation changed one after another, and we were unable to find which information was true to tell the Deaf community, either. Since a support system also varies with areas, in order to offer required support, how to connect a prefecture and cities, towns and villages must be discussed."

They emphasized the importance of the development of a network.

Japanese original article:

First project for Deaf visitors in art museum

Mori Art Museum in Tokyo has carried out a tour with sign language interpretation for the Deaf since 2003. The Deaf visitors are eager to discuss.

February 21, 2012

Aiming at allowing the Deaf visitor to appreciate fine art more, the non-profit organization called "Able Art Japan (AAJ)," located in Tokyo will work on creation of fine-arts terms for the first time to discuss impression . Because of few signed vocabulary in the field of art in general, it is harder for the Deaf to understand the wonderfulness of fine arts.

AAJ started activity as the Japanese Art Culture Association for Persons with Disabilities in 1994, advocating the "Able Art Movement" which pursues the possibility of the art activities of persons with disabilities. It has arranged environment which is easy to access to the artists with disabilities, sale of their work , fine arts and the stage work.

According to the AAJ staff, it tends that the Deaf do not have any barrier on art appreciation, but in fact, since they can understand neither an auditory guide nor an introduction image without caption in the art museum, they may be unable to enjoy fine arts enough.

A few art museums have held a tour with sign language interpretation, which does not happen often. Also since there is little signed vocabulary for fine arts, and there is also no sign language glossary book on the fine-arts.

AAJ, funded with 2,500,000 yen (32,000 US$) by a private enterprises to support the civic activities, will research for over one year with cooperation of some art museums, and develop the program for  the Deaf to appreciate fine arts better. Moreover, it extracts important fine-arts terms and also creates appropriate signed vocabulary of fine arts so that the Deaf can discuss impression and comment each other.

Japanese original article:

Electrical display terminals for earthquake report installed in Tokyo


February 18, 2012

Toshima Ward in Tokyo installed the terminal machine for a prompt earthquake report that carries out the electrical message display in three institutions, such as the ward office building, on February 17 in order to warn the Deaf instantly about an earthquake.

There will be a total of five terminals installed in each ward facility when the latest one is to be set up in the central health welfare center on February 19.

The terminal displays a message on a large-sized LED screen, when an earthquake report for warning comes out, and also a warning light rotates in yellow at the same time to get attention from the Deaf.

As siren sound, etc. come out from a built-in speaker, the effect is expected to promptly caution the hearing people, too. News and a weather report are usually  displayed.

Japanese original article:

Documentary film by Deaf film maker to debut this March

A documentary film titled "Kohi to Enpitsu" ("Coffee and A Pencil" in English) was produced by Ayako Imamura, a Deaf film maker. 

It will be shown for two weeks in Shinjuku, Tokyo starting March 10.

The 32-year-old Nagoya native studied filmmaking at the California State University at Northridge.

Official site in English:

Photo gallery link:

Smart phone introduces local culture in sign language

The screen of a smart phone shows a famous place in Kamakura with a sign language animation (up) and a photograph of the place (bottom).

February 15, 2012

Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture aims at getting recognized as an "ancient city of samurai" by the World Cultural Heritage.

An application program was developed for Deaf visitors who use a multifunctional mobile phone (smart phone). In the program the animation explaining the cultural heritage of Kamakura in sign language and sightseeing information are loaded.

The free distribution of the application program started on February 14. It is said that the program which introduces world heritage by a sign language animation is the first kind in the world.

A local IT company and the corporation which offers sign language service developed the program together in one year. Kamakura City cooperated in providing sightseeing information, etc.

An iPhone-oriented application program is also under development and will be scheduled for the distribution around May.

About the information dissemination with the use of a sign language animation, the staff involved in the development section said, "We developed the program for the Deaf who prefer sign language to written Japanese as a means of information communication. We hope more awareness of such a need will be enhanced."

Japanese original article:

Coda artist works on street paining with children

Kado Hidehiko talks with children while drawing the canvas of corrugated cardboard on the street.

February 14, 2012

KADO Hidehiko, Coda and an illustrator from Nagasaki-shi in Nagasaki Prefecture, performed live painting on the street in the Hamamachi arcade on February 11, which was the third time for him.

When he was about 20 years old working in Nagasaki, he was involved in the live event by side which his friend sung in the arcade.

On the day past 20:00, families who learned that the canvas of the corrugated cardboard of about 3-meter x 5-meter size would be prepared in the road, and other families who passed by by chance, etc. participated in the event with crayons in hand.

When Hidehiko drew people, a bird, a giraffe, an elephant, a flower, etc., the children drew freely further on the cardboard, which the image of the drawn picture changed every moment as time passed.

While about 50 visitors watched, the corrugated cardboard art was completed after over 2 hours. The participants cut off the favorite illustration portion by the cutter, and brought it home.

The family who participated for the first time said with some excitement, "We were surprised to see our daughter draw the picture which we have never seen until now. We realized it is important to make a child have new experience."

Hidehiko mentions, "This live painting was unexpected continuation. If I draw a picture over the picture that the child next to me has drown, he seemed to be sad for a moment, but he drew again on my picture. Drawing together with children is great." He believes painting is a vital communication tool.

Hidehiko studied painting and design by himself, and has exhibited his works.

Japanese original article:

Kado Hidehiko's official website (Japanese):

Deaf students visit Toyota Motor

Students work on the dream car design.

February 8, 2012

A group of 38 elementary school students in total, teachers and others from the Aichi Prefecture Okazaki School for the Deaf in Okazaki-shi and the Prefecture Chikusa School for the Deaf in Nagoya-shi were invited to the Toyota Motor head office in Toyota-shi in the prefecture on February 7.

The students have prepared two different copies of the design of "the dream car," which the Toyota designers engaged in manufacture of luxury car Lexus, etc. have brushed up.

The students colored the design on that day using pastel and a marker. Nine Toyota  designers taught them how to paint, and the graduates who works for Toyota also participated to help the students complete the work.

Another group of 36 children in total from the prefecture Toyohashi School for the Deaf in Toyohashi-shi, the Ichinomiya School for the Deaf in Ichinomiya shi, and the Shizuoka prefectural Hamamatsu School for the Deaf will be invited to the motor company on February 21, too.

Toyota has offered the program since 1973 as a social action project.

Japanese original article:

Firefighter wins for his speech on rescue of the Deaf

February 16, 2012

The 35th Iwate prefectural speech contest by the firefighters was held in Morioka-shi, Iwate Prefecture on February 15.

Nine of each representatives of the 12 fire-fighting headquarters made a speech on the theme related to the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

They spoke how they have felt desperately when engaging in the relief activity in the hometown which was in the annihilation state, while being unable to contact their own family.

They appealed how important it was for them to stand by the disaster victims as a firefighter, and to tell people the importance of the disaster prevention education for less disaster damage, etc.

SENDA Teruyuki (25) who won the highest award spoke about the rescue of Deaf people in an emergency that he has contemplated while attending the sign language circle.

He will participate in the Fire Chiefs' Association of Japan northeast branch speech contest by the firefighters which is scheduled in Fukushima Prefecture in April.

Japanese original article:

English article: Speech recognition trial uses DS consoles to help children with hearing difficulties

January 30, 2012

Nintendo is helping to implement the use of speech recognition software in Japanese schools, in partnership with telecom company NTT. As part a project currently being trialed, speech can be captured from a classroom teacher, and relayed as text on a student’s DS handheld console.

Nintendo’s handheld console is no stranger to classrooms in Japan, with it already being used in educational settings for a variety of purposes. There are a broad range of educational titles available for the DS in the region, which focus on topics such as science, math, learning languages or even writing Kanji. This latest use of the console is unique though, in its attempt to improve accessibility in the classroom, for children with hearing or other learning difficulties.

In this trial project, which has just started in the Okinawa and Tottori Prefectures ... (Read more)

English original article:

Over thousand university students with disabilities enrolled due to more support

February 14, 2012

According to press release by the Japan Student Services Organization (JSSO) on February 14, it turned out that 10,236 students with disabilities are enrolled in universities, junior colleges, and technical colleges as of May, 2011,  and it was about twice in 2005 when the survey took place.

JSSO is analyzing it as "the actual condition of the students with disabilities grasped by these educational institutions progressed."

The schools which offer sign-language interpreting services, etc. increase in number, and more accessible to the students may be one of the reasons.

All of 1,206 national, public and private educational institutions replied to the survey. The schools that the students with disabilities currently attend went up to 67%.

Breakdown of the students with disabilities:
- 2,491 "physical impaired" students -- the largest number.
- 2,047 "sickly" students
- 1,556 "deaf/speech impediments"  
- 1,453 students diagnosed by the doctor as the "developmental disease" 
"Other" students including mental disorder is 1,838.

Fifty-two percent of 625 schools that provide services such as note-taking, translation into braille, etc. shows the sharp increase from 206 schools (21%) in the last survey in 2005, which 1001 schools responded enrolling 5,444 students with disabilities.

Japanese original article:

Deaf Elementary School commended for improving the language learning method

February 7, 2012

Mie Prefecture held the "initiative practice grand-prix presentation" in the prefecture office auditorium on February 6. It commends the measure of the work improvement and reform of the workers hired by the prefecture.

The governor and the vice-governor chose the elementary department of the Mie Prefecture School for the Deaf as a recipient of the Grand Prix.

They were highly evaluaed for the practice to improve the Japanese language skills of the Deaf children for their future social independence.

The teachers of the Deaf children have applied the Japanese instruction theory to the foreigner in order to solve their Japanese language problems.

It is said that the request for the Japanese instruction booklet which the school prepared from the whole country succeeded one another, and 13,000 copies have been shipped until now.

Japanese original article:

"Help" seals for Deaf/HoH disaster victims

The seal tells "I am Deaf. Help me with sign language or writing."

February 7, 2012

Since it was reported that the Deaf and hard of hearing victims were troubled at the time of disaster, or in the shelter in northeastern Japan, "Better Communication Society," an organization located in Tokyo that serves the Deaf/HoH, has made the "Help" seals to let surrounding people know that your are hearing loss at the time of a disaster.

The Society is appealing to administrations, companies, etc. for putting up the seals at shelters or the distribution in advance.

According to the result of survey by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, the death tolls of Deaf/HoH persons were 17 due to the Great East Japan Earthquake last March.

Very few Deaf/HoH persons were able to know the tsunami warning before taking refuge since television was completely out because of electric power failure. There were many Deaf/HoH persons were pulled by the family or the neighbors to run away from the tsunami.

There are two kinds of card-size seal; the one that tells "I am Deaf. Help me with sign language or writing," and the other one for hearing volunteers, "Sign language or writing available." The seals adhere to a breast, an arm, etc.

Luminescence material is used so that these seals may be visible at night. Sunlight and an electric light are stored in them and emitted at a dark place for about 10 hours.

Japanese original article:

Aquarium's experiment on guidance system by cellular phone

The self guide system gives explanation about the dolphin.
(photo: Add caption

February 5, 2012

The Kagoshima Aquarium at Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima Prefecture in the southern island of Japan is considering to introduce the "self guide system" which helps the visitor enjoy the exhibition of marine animals through a mobile phone.

They has started an open experiment since the end of January with 120 visitors including the Deaf, and will summarize a result of the experiment soon to explore for the use of the system.

This experiment is a joint research with Chukyo University of Aichi Prefecture, etc. If the use of the system were realized, it will be the first example in the whole country.

The visitor reads the QR Code stuck in front of each water tank with a mobile phone, which accesses the specified site.

This system gives not only description of exhibition with written or spoken Japanese, but also sign language or English for the persons with disabilities and foreign tourists.

Japanese original article:

Deaf lay judge interviewed after the trial

Tomaru Takayuki responds by sign language at the press conference.

February 4, 2012

Judgment was given to the defendant (24) on February 3 by the lay judge trial in the Maebashi District Court in which TOMARU Takayuki (40) participated for the first time as a Deaf lay judge.

After the trial, Takayuki said with a relieved expression through the interpreter at a press conference, "I feel good that I kept doing to the last."

He became Deaf when he was 3 years old because of sickness, and attended the school for the Deaf.

Takayuki received an e-mail from the family during work last year, and knew having been chosen as the lay judge candidate. He considered declining it shortly because of being Deaf. However, his father encouraged him to accept it, which he did.

With the four interpreters, trial and discussion progressed smoothly. Other two male lay judges at the interview also agreed saying, "Almost everything went well with us."

There was also presiding Judge Takayama's consideration. By an examination of witness, he did not overlook the puzzled expression which the interpreter showed, and then urged the witness who spoke in low voice, "Bring a microphone close to the mouth."

There were a few issues as pointed out by Takayuki. For example, since a lay judge's seat is located higher than where the interpreter sat down, he was unable see the sign language interpreted.

Moreover, when Takayuki made a note looking away from the interpreter, he missed what has been said. He indicated, "There should just have been those who make a memo, supporting me to focus on interpreting."

According to the sign language interpreters, they were advancing preparation by hearing of a trial, a mock interpreting in court, the study of the trial term, etc. since 2009 when the jury system was introduced. 

Japanese original article:

Related link:
First Deaf man assigned as a lay judge in Gumma Prefecture


English article: Japanese Deaf Cyclist Arrives In Liberia

A Japanese Deaf man named Mr. Kohei Hakamada (62) is traveling around the world on a motorcycle with the theme: “Around the World Deaf Japan.”  He arrived in Monrovia in Liberia on Sunday, January 29, 2012, after visiting 48 other countries that have national associations for deaf persons.

He is expected to leave Liberia on next Monday for neighboring Sierra Leone. He will travel to the Republic of Guinea and other countries. He is due back in his country in May, 2014.

Read more:  English original source:

Deaf man assigned as a lay judge in Gumma Prefecture

January 31, 2012

A Deaf man was assigned to a lay judge at the lay judge trial of the robbery and bodily-injury case which started in the Maebashi District Court of Gumma Prefecture on January 30.

The court arranged four sign language interpreters. Both the public prosecutor and the lawyer representing the defendant also questioned the witness slowly during the examination of witness, and put the technical term in another way as intelligible language.

The Deaf lay judge gazed at the interpreter, bowed his head in assent occasionally, took the memo, seemingly understanding the crime situation, etc.

The counsel for the defense was reported to say that he was told by the court staff about one week before that a lay judge candidate might be Deaf. He has prepared himself by discussing how to advance the trial with the court staff, such as a position where an interpreter sits down, supposing the Deaf person were assigned.

When the public prosecutor made the witness explain the crime situation by the large-sized monitor in the court, he asked a question, taking care of the interpreter's progress condition. The judge sitting down next to the Deaf lay judge also assisted him by pointing at the small monitor following the pace of  interpreting.

Japanese source:

First Deaf man selected as lay judge at trial, provided with interpreting

January 31, 2012

The lay judge trial on the body injury and robbery case was opened in the Maebashi District Court in Gumma Prefecture, and it turned out that a Deaf man was chosen as the lay judge. He has participated in trial with sign-language interpreting.

There is an example that a Deaf person was chosen as a supplement lay judge and attended the trial with note taking in the Nara District Court in May, 2010. it is reported that the lay judge trial with sign-language interpreting is the first in the whole country.

According to the Maebashi district court, the Deaf man was one of 52 persons who received the summons in December, last year.  He was chosen as the lay judge with other five persons in the selection procedure on January 30.

The Deaf man had notified that he was Deaf in advance, and four interpreters whom the court arranged interpreted for him by turns at the trial which started on that day.

The Lay Judges Act stated that as long as there is "no trouble remarkable to job execution," the person with disability is also a candidate for the lay judge.

According to the Supreme Court, there was a case that the person who was visually impaired participated in trial with Braille translation.

Japanese source:

Receivers to be installed in the prefecture assembly gallery


February 1, 2012

The Aichi prefecture assembly will introduce five receivers for hard of hearing persons into the gallery of the plenary hall in February so that they can follow an argument at a plenary session clearly through the earphone of a receiver.

Assembly officials are trying to make the environment for the elderly or hard of hearing persons to understand the parliamentary activity better.

At the prefecture assembly, sign language interpreting has been provided if any request made from a Deaf person. However, many deaf people do not understand sign language.

Moreover, because the surrounding noise tends be bothering at the plenary session even if with a commercial hearing-aid, there has been the call for more consideration from hard of hearing persons.

If the application for hearing the plenary session, the receiver can be used for free.

Japanese source:

English article: Deaf men arrested over sign-language extortion

February 1, 2012

Police have arrested three Deaf men on suspicion of using sign language to extort money from another Deaf person in Aichi Prefecture.

The three suspects, identified as Yokoi Kenta (33), Tanaka Takao (30), and Takata Hidetoku (34), are accused of duping a Deaf woman into giving them 300,000 yen in December. 2009.

According to investigative sources, the three used sign language to deceive a 25-year-old female company employee from the city of Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, telling her that Tanaka had a heart disease and needed money to cover his hospitalization expenses.

When the woman dismissed their story, police said the three became more aggressive, signing: "Do you want Tanaka to die from his disease?" and "You can't go home (without giving us money)."

English source:

Japanese original source: