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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 10 - 16  > Audio Sunday Akahata, the torch blazing the path for the visually-challenged
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2015 June 10 - 16 TOP3 [JCP]

Audio Sunday Akahata, the torch blazing the path for the visually-challenged

June 14, 2015
Akahata Sunday edition

A group in Fukuoka City, which has long been publishing the audio version of Akahata Sunday edition for persons with visual disabilities, received from the national government a Green Ribbon Medal in May.

The Friendship Organization for the Visually Impaired records articles run in Sunday Akahata on a 90-minute cassette tape and a CD in cooperation with the editorial team of Sunday Akahata, volunteer actors, voice actors, and poets. The group mails these copies to more than 500 subscribers in Japan. Since the audio version of Sunday Akahata was first released in April 1966, the group has been distributing them every week without fail.

The group began this activity after a braille teacher who was a Japanese Communist Party member in Fukuoka City had read Akahata Sunday edition to a woman who lost her eyesight. The woman at that time said, “This is quite a waste. I am the only person listening.” Several JCP members and supporters later recorded the reading of Akahata to be circulated among other visually-challenged persons. Initially, only those who lived in and around Fukuoka City were able to receive the audio version of Akahata, but it little by little spread nationwide through word of mouth.

Back in 1966, the only source of information for persons with visual disabilities was braille newspapers and radio, recollected 76-year-old Fujino Takaaki who also has visual impairment. He said, “We didn’t understand the important points from commercial news sources regarding where Japan was going to or different perspectives regarding Japanese society. I really wanted to be fully informed.”

Regarding the receiving of the award, Kawasaki Hiroko of the Friendship Organization said, “We’ve been providing information by voice for 49 years, working to protect their right to access information. This activity has led to receiving the award.”

Due to the limited amount of public subsidies for volunteer activities, the group is always in financial difficulty. However, the subscribers’ words, “Audio Akahata is the torch that blazes our path,” have been encouraging the group to continue its activity. Kawasaki said, “The information we need is of course what they need as well. As long as they need us, we will keep going.”
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