What’s Going to Happen to Deaf Education?

from August 2003 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Report on Recent Movements

More and more people are beginning to express concern about the current situation and future of Deaf education. Delegates from different parts of Japan to the General Assembly of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD), held in June in Yamanashi Prefecture, actively exchanged opinions on this issue. The General Assembly reached a consensus on the following points: (1) grave concern about the “Special Support Education” policy by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), (2) clarification of JFD’s standpoint concerning the “Human Rights Relief Statement” submitted by the Japan Deaf Children and Parents Association to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, (3) serious apprehensions about the newborn baby auditory screening test and cochlear implants, (4) need to guarantee substantial education to children with combined disabilities, (5) concern about the future of children who received education in a mainstream environment, and others.

The standpoint and views of JFD concerning these issues are explained in the Resolution of the National Congress of the Deaf entitled “Toward the Improvement and Development of Deaf Education”:

  1. To improve the role of the Deaf schools as a place for human development of Deaf children to become independent Deaf adults, as a place to deepen understanding about “Deafness” and “awareness of one’s disability”, as a place for empowering the students to live dignified lives as Deaf individuals.
  2. To ensure that Sign Language is recognized by the Deaf schools and to promote the teaching and diffusion of Sign Language in all the Deaf schools, including the kindergarten and pre-school classes, and to make Sign Language training compulsory for teachers of Deaf schools, and to set up a system to enable this training.
  3. To strengthen the cooperation between Deaf schools and Deaf organizations, welfare, medical and other related institutions, and to develop Deaf schools to become a center for educational needs in the community.
  4. To further improve education to meet the needs and characteristics of Deaf children and students with combined disabilities, and endeavor to guarantee vocational options or higher studies after graduation.
  5. To ensure that students with hearing impairments are not discriminated in any way in taking entrance examinations to higher schools by calling on all universities (including medical universities), colleges, junior colleges, vocational schools, etc. to open their doors to all, and to provide Sign Language interpretation, notetaking/realtime captioning, and other means to guarantee that Deaf students will be able to follow the classes.
  6. To ensure that Sign Language interpretation and/or realtime captioning is provided to meet the needs of the participants in all public lectures and lessons hosted by the Board of Education.
  7. To ensure that representatives of adult Deaf associations are included as members of all consultative bodies and research conferences related to the Deaf and hearing impaired persons, so that their experiences and opinions can be fully reflected in the discussions

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf has sent a petition to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology containing the above points. JFD has long been stressing the need to use Sign Language in Deaf education, so that the issues stated in the recent “Human Rights Relief Statement” are nothing new. In order that all persons involved in Deaf education can share information, exchange opinions, and reach a common understanding, JFD holds the “”Future of Deaf Education Study Group” every summer.

Deaf education is evidently changing. It is important for Deaf adults to participate as members in the Research Meeting on Deaf Education, held in all parts of the country. We should follow the example of the Tokyo Federation of Deaf which has been sending a Deaf representative to the Research Meeting since 4 years ago.

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