TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Theme Event in Kanto Region, Team B: Learning About Sign Language to Realize an Equal Society
On September 12, 2020, Kanto Region, Team B held its online TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Theme Event. It was organized by Hiroko Ogasawara, Regional Leader, and Hiroko Hiraki, Regional Mentor, who gathered 15 participants including TOMODACHI Alumni from Kanto and other regions.
To start the event, titled “The World of Sign Language,” Regional Leader Hiroko Ogasawara mentioned that this Theme Event was based on the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Welcome Event held in June 2020, where participants learned about non-medical care for long-term care patients. She stressed the importance of making efforts to realize a society in which everyone can live comfortably. As a first step to achieving this society, she created an event to learn about sign language.
She also mentioned that knowing, accepting and respecting each other’s backgrounds are necessary all over the world, as seen in the disputes over the Black Lives Matter movement and debates over gender issues. She decided to focus on understanding sign language through this event.
In the first half of the event, the participants listened to a lecture from Ms. Ren Kikukawa, who is a lecturer at Saitama Welfare and Child Care Professional School and is from a “Deaf Family,” which signifies a family whose members are all deaf. Ms. Mari Kakuta, professor at Kanto Gakuin University, took part as a simultaneous interpreter of sign language.
The participants deepened their understanding about the history of the deaf, the types and classifications of deafness, sign language used internationally, and the difficulties the deaf face in society. Ms. Kikukawa also talked about practical know-how, such as how to interact with deaf people when you meet.
In the latter half of the event, Ms. Kikukawa held a workshop to teach sign language. She signed the names of each participant and taught them how to greet others in sign language. She also gave a quiz to teach words that are uniquely expressed in sign language, such as the names of the brands and new words such as COVID-19, helping participants learn actively.
After the event, several participants commented, “There are so many things I did not know about the deaf. It was great to be able to join in this opportunity,” “It was a precious opportunity as I rarely have opportunities to interact with deaf people” and “I would like to think about deaf culture in my daily life such as at work or school and be more in touch with it.”
The event was held as a part of the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework, the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Leadership Program supported by Prudential.