Need for Speedy Access to Information in Emergency Situations

from 1 August 2007 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

No positive response to request from the Deaf after the Chuetsu earthquake –
Another request made by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) started to broadcast emergency broadcasting right after the Chuetsu earthquake but there was neither captioning nor sign language interpretation on these broadcasts, nor was there any new in sign language.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) was concerned that the request they had sent to NHK after the Noto Peninsula earthquake on March 25, 2007 had been neglected and commented that Deaf persons had been watching TV screens just to increase their anxiety. JFD sent a request again on July 18, 2007 to NHK, stating that, as a public broadcasting station, NHK should provide sign language interpretation and captioning on emergency broadcasting.

Deaf persons can not receive information through audio broadcasting. Information on evacuation, aftershocks, rescue, recovery and weather is vital to victims in the affected areas. JFD also sent a request letter to the local TV station in Niigata to ensure information access for the Deaf.

Additionally, JFD sent letters of request to Cabinet Office, Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to encourage NHK and other private TV stations to ensure information access of Deaf persons at the event of emergency. JFD also demanded necessary information sharing with the Japan Organization of CS Broadcasting for People with Disabilities, which had been broadcasting programs for the Deaf with captions and sign languages promptly since the earthquake. Confirmation of victims at evacuation centers, securing of information access and approach to local government of the affected area were requested as well.

Niigata Prefecture requested supports

On July 19, 2007, Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare contacted the local government of the affected area to demand consideration for information and communication support for the Deaf victims.

The authority of Niigata prefecture instructed each municipality to ensure information access and distributed 1500 flyers saying “You can contact us if you need help including sign language interpretation service” at the shelter in Kashiwazaki City on July 18,, 2007. It also dispatched 2 sign language interpreters in the afternoon of July 20 and will dispatch 4-5 sign language interpreters to the evacuation center from July 21, 2007.

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