By Eiichi Takada – August 25, 2004
(English translation based on an article which appeared in the Oct. 25, 2004 edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper)
The United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on a “Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities” is now in the process of discussing the contents of the convention. The Fourth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee, held from August 23 to September 3, was attended, not only by the Japanese government delegation, but also by a delegation of Japanese disability-related NGOs.
As the common desire of all the Deaf persons or persons with profound hearing disabilities throughout the world, the Deaf community is now focusing on the need to define sign languages as full-fledged languages.
It is true that sign language is becoming better understood by society at large, and people no longer look at us with curiosity when we are signing in public. Sign language often appears even in TV dramas. Most people, however, mistakenly believe that sign language is an alternative form of expressing spoken languages. Sign languages are still discriminated in that they are not recognized to be languages, equal to spoken languages.
Dr. Yutaka Osugi, Executive Director of JFD Headquarters, at the recently
held strategic conference of disability NGOs, explaining the standpoint of
the World Federation of the Deaf
The United Nations has started working on the consideration of a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The Ad Hoc Committee to consider the convention established a Working Group for the drafting of the convention text. The Working Group produced a draft for the convention on January, 2004. On March 26, the World Federation of the Deaf announced its official comments on the draft convention and its proposals for changes (below).
In Japan, disability related NGOs held a strategic conference to consider the draft convention text (organized by the Japan Disability Forum Preparation Committee) on March 27-28. At this conference, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf introduced the official WFD comments and proposals for changes.
Concerning the definition of “language”, it was suggested that WFD make use of Article 27 of the “UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (below). Concerning the right to education, it was pointed out that there should be further research on the appropriateness of classifying languages into sign language, spoken language, and written language. Prior to discussions with the Japanese government, scheduled to be held on April 28, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf will cooperate with other disability related NGOs to hold further discussions on the convention draft, especially in relation to the “definition of language”, “information/communication”, and “education”.
Regional Workshop towards a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities Bangkok, Thailand, 14-17 October 2003
Report by WFD Honorary Board Member and JFD Board Member Eiichi Takada
workshop discussions in progress (Mr. Eiichi Takada on bottom left)
The above Workshop on the “Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities” was held for 4 days from Oct. 14 (Tues) to Oct. 17 (Fri), 2003 in the UN Conference Center in Bangkok, Thailand. As the outcome of this Workshop, the participants adopted a Convention Draft to be submitted from UN ESCAP to the UN Ad Hoc Committee on a “Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities” (to be called the “Bangkok Draft”). This Workshop was sponsored by the Japanese government.
Thematic Working Group on Disability-related Concerns (TWGDC) Sixth Session
Answer for post-meeting questionnaire regarding ESCAP’s role in poor countries during the Asian Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons
Eiichi Takada – Board Member, World Federation of the Deaf
What can ESCAP do for the poor countries in this region?
The goal of the United Nations in relation to disability issues is “full participation and equality”. Here in the ESCAP region, we also have the goals set forth in the “Biwako Millennium Framework”. I believe that endeavors undertaken in accordance with the BMF should consequently result in the alleviation of poverty. We should also ensure that our endeavors would ultimately cover poverty issues. In order to realize the goals of the BMF, we need to follow the following procedures:
compiled for the Expert Group Meeting and Seminar on an International Convention to Protect and Promote the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities Bangkok, Thailand 2-4 June 2003
The International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 and the subsequent “United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, 1983~1992” aroused the Japanese government, as well as persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their organizations to strive toward the achievement of “Full Participation and Equality”. This movement was further carried on into the “Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993~2002”, and by the end of this decade in 2002, Japan had made tremendous advances. Japan can be seen as a case in which the initiative of the United Nations and other international organizations effectively and positively influenced the country’s domestic development.
However, Japan started out with such meager infrastructures to protect the rights of PWDs that, in spite of movements by PWDs and their organizations, and efforts by the government to respond to these movements, it is still left with many problems and issues to be solved. These are challenges to be carried over into the “Second Asian and Pacific Decade, 2003~2012”.
originally published in the year 2000 in the magazine “Disability Research vol. 28 issue 1”
OUTLINE: The central force in achieving full participation and equality for people with disabilities is the organizations and movements of people with disabilities themselves. The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) made great progress in the advancement of welfare for Deaf people in Japan through Deaf rights movements conducted after World War II. Based on these experiences, JFD hosted the 9th World Congress of the Deaf in 1991 in Tokyo. The “Asian Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002” presented another opportunity for advance. As a member of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), JFD has been playing an active role in helping to establish and develop Deaf organizations in Asia. One of our major projects is the “Leadership Training of Asian and Oceanian Deaf Persons”, commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The training program was initiated in 1995, and a total of 39 persons have been trained in the 5 courses completed so far.
Furthermore, JFD utilized the Japan Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Postal Savings for International Voluntary Aid to help establish a common national Sign Language in Thailand through the publication of a Thai Sign Language book. JFD also established the “Asian Deaf Friendship Fund” to pool donations from JFD member associations and other organizations, to be used for such purposes as supporting the annual WFD Regional Secretariat in Asia/Pacific Representatives Meeting, which is hosted in turn by one of the member countries, providing scholarships to students in schools for the Deaf, providing funds to expand the facilities of the Deaf school in Nepal, etc. These projects are carried out with consideration of the specific requests and needs of the organizations receiving support, and with the objective of strengthening and developing the self-reliance of those bodies.
KEY WORDS: independent and autonomous organizations of disabled persons, Deaf society or Deaf community, WFD Regional Secretariat in Asia/Pacific (WFD RSA/P), Leadership Training of Asian and Oceanian Deaf Persons, Asian Deaf Friendship Fund, nationwide unification of the Sign Language.