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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 16 - 21  > Deaf call for early enactment of sign language law
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2019 October 16 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Deaf call for early enactment of sign language law

October 17, 2019

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf and an association of prefectural governors working to promote sign language held a forum in the Lower House members' office building on October 15 with the objective of working for an early enactment of a "sign language law".

Many deaf-mutes and governors from throughout the country assembled in Tokyo and reaffirmed the need to have the law enacted as early as possible in order to promote sign language use in Japan.

With regard to this law, the Japanese Communist Party and several other opposition parties jointly submitted a bill to the Diet on June 14 together with an information communication bill which is aimed at securing various means of communication for persons with visual and hearing disabilities.

At the forum, Hasegawa Yoshihiro of the 20,000-member deaf federation reported that 27 prefectures and 285 municipalities now have their own ordinances concerning sign language. However, he said that official support for deaf children to learn sign language is still insufficient though public understanding for the need has spread. He also said that he would like to work to build a system that can promptly dispatch sign language interpreters in times of disaster.

Tottori Governor Hirai Shinji of the governors' association reported that the Tottori government concluded the nation's first partnership agreement with the prefecture of Tokushima to send local government staff who have sign language skills to affected areas when a disaster strikes either prefecture.

Watanabe Masao, head of the National Research Association for Sign Language Interpretation, reported that the number of employed sign language interpreters, compared to 1990, has increased threefold to about 1,400. However, he added that this number is still far from what is needed. He said, "In order for deaf-mutes to receive the same administrative services as people with no hearing problem, it is necessary for municipal offices to set up counters where municipal staff can communicate in sign language with deaf-mutes."

Past related article:
> Opposition parties jointly submit bills on sign language [June 15, 2019]
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