Japan is generally a fairly inclusive place for people from around the world speaking many different languages. While many of the top areas of Japan have street signs in several different languages and multilingual officials, only a few places have had sign language laws until now.
The Japanese Federation of the Deaf has recently reported that 49 municipalities and prefectures have recently enacted ordinances insuring sign language is required as an official language.
Various initiatives like this one are insuring that sign language is offered as a language in primary school and that interpreters are available at events and attractions throughout these municipalities.
A measure to enact sign language learning could work to eliminate some of the differences between regions and ensure that deaf individuals always have access to sign language interpreters.
With some of these measures already in place, deaf individuals may be able to more easily use areas such as JR Akashi station where the staff will contact a sign language interpreter via tablet device. With the interpreter in the booth, it becomes possible for deaf individuals to accurately communicate their wants and needs or receive information. The service is entirely subsidized by the municipal government and it’s been successfully up and running at this station and others for more than two months.
Deaf individuals that live and work in the area are finding the change to be an extremely positive one and it will be interesting to see what happens as more sign language initiatives are brought in throughout other municipalities.