The future might change if you spoke-up.


The future might change if you spoke-up.

Hello, I’m Kumagai from Japan. My nickname is Kumasan and my story is as follows;

I began to be identified as a deaf only when I joined university. Before that, I didn’t have a clear identity and, in some ways, I was ignoring other deaf people despite having hearing loss myself since birth.

I was first introduced to sign language when I was a student at a vocational school. But as I was always surrounded by hearing people, I never had the chance to use sign language and so, I had less interest in it. I only learned it so as to qualify as a social worker. And after enrolling in the university, I came across sign language again. I realized it was a lively language used by deaf people. I also learned later the difference between the sign language used by the Deaf and its corresponding used by the hard of hearing. Getting used to communicating with different people in sign language, I learned how comfortable it is to express my thoughts, feelings and emotions in this language. So, then I realized at that moment that I wanted to be known as a Deaf person using sign language.

Since graduating from the university, I have worked on various jobs and currently, I am working towards becoming a MSW (Medical Social Worker). In Japan, there are not many Deaf MSWs, so I want to be one of them. I am currently working and studying in my home healthcare office. All my colleagues at work are friendly to me. I am mainly involved in public relations, but I also do a lot of administrative work. In our public relations activities, we send out messages in sign language as JSL interpreters, which we hope will help to raise awareness about the home clinic to the deaf.

By the way, the home care service is still young, so the doctors are somewhat ignorant of it but it’s actually such a service where doctors and nurses directly visit the home of those patients who can’t directly visit the hospital by themselves. There are many patients who are unable to move their bodies freely and some are even in their dying state. So, it’s important to respect the feelings of those persons along with their family and discuss how they would like to spend their ‘final days’ in hospital or at home. Homecare focuses on that giving people more choices about how they want to spend the rest of their lives when turn elderly. As a deaf person, I want to see to it, deaf people also enjoying their “last days” with peace of mind.

I find it rewarding to communicate and develop mutual understanding in my workplace. For example, if you meet 10 people, you will not be able to be friends with all 10. There is some kind of chemistry in it and there are differences in values too. In the process, we find out how to get to know each other, how to know the thinking of the other person, how to adapt our feelings to theirs, how to teach and how to communicate. So, I enjoy this collaborative process. A special reaction is gained when the other person’s reaction is multiplied by your own reaction. I think this is what it means to know a human being. 

Through my experience, the message I want to convey to the normal people around the world is that they shouldn’t hesitate to come in contact with deaf and hearing people. I would like to challenge them in a positive term. There are many things you don’t know until you bump into them. And obviously, it is only when you have the willingness to make contact that you learn and expand your world.

On the other hand, what I would like to say to deaf people is that they should become aware of their rights and raise their voices. Our future can be changed if we speak up. And so, looking forward to this very future, I am happily living my life with sign language today. On my days off, I refresh myself by reading books, engaging in serious talks with friends or just having an idle chat. taking a salt-bath and just relaxing. Above all, I enjoy my work and my life. Thank you!

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