Tag Archives: blind

Accessibility in Japan

24 Apr

“Accessibility” is a word that tells how easy a city is for handicapped people to go about their daily lives.

It’s not so easy for blind people, deaf people and those in wheelchairs to do the things that people who aren’t handicapped take for granted.

In your city…

how do people in wheelchairs manage all the staircases and curbs?

How do they get on and off the trains?

How do blind people use the vending machines?

How do they know how much a ticket costs? Or if a canned drink is cola or alcohol?

How can they tell the difference between the bottle of shampoo and conditioner?

How can blind people tell the difference between the denominations of monetary currency?

How do deaf people know when their station is coming up when they’re riding a train and can’t hear the announcements?

In Tokyo, there are now elevators in nearly every train station to help those in wheelchairs.

The train station staff have portable ramps to help the wheelchair go in and out of the trains.

And there is 点字 (Braille) all over Japan.

The sidewalks in Japan have Braille…

The beer cans in Japan have Braille (that says 「お酒」 (“alcohol”))…

The elevators in Japan have Braille.

And the train stations in Japan have Braille all over. For example, the signs have Braille…

And the handrails in the train stations have Braille that tell where the staircase leads to (the platform, or the exit, etc)…

This handrail says that the stairs lead to the 「改札口」 ("ticket gates").

Just like the sidewalks in Japan, the train stations have Braille on the floor and platforms…

Shampoo bottles in Japan have Braille to help blind people tell which bottle in the shower is shampoo and which conditioner…

The shampoo bottle has the Braille, the conditioner doesn't.

Even Japanese money has Braille on the different bills (and the bills are also varying sizes depending on denomination too).

And then there’s the electronic sign boards that are now on almost every train in Japan. They tell the name of the upcoming station. It helps the hearing impaired who can’t hear the conductor’s announcements.

What examples of  “accessibility” can be found in your city?

World News

15 Jan

Some recent news from around the world that made an impression on me.

japan1 JAPAN
  • On Saturday, January 10, 2009, three 17-year old high school students in Tokyo risked their lives to rescue a blind man who fell off of a train station platform.
    Without hesitation, they rushed over and pulled him back onto the platform to safety moments before a train pulled into the station.
    They were awarded letter of commendation from both the train station and the local fire department.
  • Wednesday, January 14, 2009, a forty-five year old professor at 「中央大学」 (Chuo University) in Tokyo was stabbed to death in the school’s restroom.
    The motive is unknown and the killer is still at large (as of this writing).
  • A 54-year old man who owns a medicine distribution company got a perm hair style so that he could more closely resemble his twenty-year-old son and attempted to take a test in his son’s place so that his son could get his OTC drug handling license to work at his company.
    He was caught when the test administrator notice he looked unusually old for being twenty.
  • America’s Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. currently owns 41% of Universal Studios Japan‘s shares. They are making a take-over bid to gain the remaining 59 shares and own the amusement park outright.
  • U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer left Japan today to return to America as his post ends with the change of the U.S. president this month. Schieffer was the Ambassador to Japan since April 2005.
china1 CHINA
  • A group of thirteen people in China were arrested for riding up on motorcycles and snatching toddlers to sell to people in other parts of the country for prices ranging between US$125 to US$3,800.
  • China recently surpassed Germany to become the world’s third largest economy. The U.S. and Japan are still far ahead as the number one and two world economies, respectively.
australia AUSTRALIA
  • Chemical pollution is the assumed cause of a recent spate of two-headed fish being spawned in Australia.
  • Two Australian brothers in their early twenties were vacationing with their parents in New Zealand were killed when tons of falling ice fell on them at Fox Glacier, a tourist spot in New Zealand.
    The youngest brother’s body was never recovered, and he had the keys to their rental car in his pocket.
    Without the keys, the car rental company told the parents, they would have to pay NZ$1,950 (US$1,085) to have the car towed back to the rental office and have new keys made.
    After being relentlessly criticized for being heartless by both Australia and New Zealand, the rental car company finally decided to waive the charges.
  • A man in California was arrested for trying to sell his fourteen-year-old daughter for US$16,000, one hundred crates of beer, and some cases of meat!

Have you heard this news stories? What do you think?


11 Nov

Today I saw a blind woman at a train station with a 盲導犬 (seeing eye dog).
He led her safely through the crowded station and wasn’t startled when the train came rushing into the station near him. He led her into the train and to an empty seat and then he laid down and slid below the train seat out of the way.

I think 盲導犬 (seeing eye dogs) are amazing! They seem to understand how important their job is and they take it very seriously.

It reminds me of one of my favorite movies. It’s called 「盲導犬クイールの一生」 (“Quill”).


The movie 「盲導犬クイールの一生」 (“Quill”) is a true story about the life of a Labrador named “Quill” (because of a black marking on his fur that resembles a feather) who becomes a seeing-eye-dog and the people whose lives he touches.

The movie’s a tear-jerker.

I’ve only seen the movie in 日本語 (Japanese), so I’m not sure whether there are versions of it in other languages or not.
But, if you have the chance to see the movie, I recommend it.


21 May

I just read this news article:

Yahoo News article about US court case

In summary, it says that a U.S. court ruled that the design of American monetary currency “discriminates against blind people”.

They said this because U.S. paper bills are all identical in size, shape, color and texture. So it’s difficult for people with poor vision to differentiate between different denominations.

America is the only country whose money is like that.

And since this court ruling, it seems that America’s money will finally be redesigned so that the different denominations have either a different color, size, or texture (ie: braille on the notes) like the rest of the world.

Japan’s paper money, for example, is in different sizes and colors, and the bills have braille on the corner of them.