Saturday, 23 July 2011

Creating a Stress free Environment for the Deaf - Michinori Nakahashi

The presenter works with the Japanese Deaf Association and is the director of labor and vocation within the association.

Research has been conducted on the work situation of deaf persons in Japan. The history of occupation of Deaf people in Japan looks as follows:
Previously Deaf people used to work in manual labour fields, such as carpentry, hair dressing, etc. From 1963 - 1965 a law was passed that employers should hire persons with disabilities. As a consequence since 1970 more Deaf people have obtained jobs in other fields, due to the provision of interpreting services.

Deaf people currently in employment still face barriers in employment. They do receive interpreting services and subsidies for persons with disabilities and also job coaches at the new work place. We try to ensure that communication and information sharing is actually taking place at the work place.

There is a high employment rate of deaf people in Japan, there is a low retention rate. Nearly 40% of the Deaf workers at large scale companies quite within five years. The number reason for this being the atmosphere in the work place and the frequent communication breakdown. The second rason is that the wages are lower than their hearing colleagues and they work long hours. The work environments are mostly oral, which they then become isolated, which then causes stress.

The social factor at the work place is also difficult. The hearing people chat with each other, but the Deaf person can then not join in, and therefore being again isolated.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf conducted research for three years from 2003 to 2005. We surveyed over 3000 members of the association. We hoped that with these results we can improve the situation for deaf people in the work place in Japan. We also conducted interviews with the hearing persons in the work place where the deaf persons work. Three reports were published with recommendations.

The most important recommendation is to have sign language in the work place and to have a communication friendly work place. One of the other findings is that Deaf people do complain about their situation in the work place, to make this known will actually help in better understanding and a step towards possible changes.

Next to the reports, manuals were developed for hearing people on how they can work together with deaf people. There are three important recommendations that evolved:

  1. It should be a work place where deaf workers can feel comfortable to consult
  2. Develop manuals to inform Deaf and hearing people on how to create a communication friendly work place
  3. UNCRPD: Japan has not ratified the UNCRPD yet, but we can use elements from the convention to implement
With having a stress free work environment for deaf workers, we will also be able to achieve equality in the work place. 

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