Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

技術を聴覚障がい者の為に: 起業し手話問題を解決: 大木 洵人 at TEDxFukuoka


Translator: Maki Sugimoto
Reviewer: Junto Ohki What comes to mind when you see
the words in sign language? In Japanese, it’s called
speaking with hands. Whenever I talk about sign language,
people say to me, “Sign language is like a gesture.
It’s the same all around the world? All Deaf people can use it. Or it’s just Japanese
expressed with hands?” It sometimes happens. Some of these are true but mainly they’re mistaken. First, I’d like to introduce
some numbers to you. 126. This is the number of known
sign languages in the world. There used to be 130 but 4 of them have already died out. So obviously, Japanese and American
sign language are not the same. For example, in Japanese sign language, this is how you say “thank you.” This is from an action
of a sumo wrestler accepting a prize after winning. On the other hand,
in American sign language, this is how we say “thank you.” This is sending someone a kiss. Sumo wrestlers express it as prizes,
whereas Americans do as sending a kiss. So, it’s not the accent
or the pronunciation that matters. It’s the culture that does.
That makes sign languages unique. Sign languages are rooted in culture. The culture of a region or country plays
an important part in defining language. But that’s not all. There are various dialects
within sign languages. For example, the word “name” is expressed
like this in the Kanto region. This comes from a personal seal. On the other hand,
in Kansai it’s like this. This is a name tag. Both of them relate to “name” but as you can see,
they are totally different. As you can see, sign languages depend on each geographical variation. As I know, there are 15 ways to express
“chicken” in Japanese sign language. You can express the wings,
crest, and beak. Depending on which feature
you choose to explain, the sign language will look different. As you can see,
sign languages are totally different depending on each geographical variation. The next number is 45,000,000. This is the number of people
who use sign language in the world now. Many of you may think that is a minor language, but 45,000,000 is a lot. If we were a nation, we would be
the 28th most populous nation in the world, just like Colombia. In the United States, it is the 4th
most spoken language after English, Spanish, and Chinese. So, as you can see, it is a major language used around the world. Now, I would like you to know
there are a few types of sign languages. In Japan, we have two types. Japanese sign language
and pidgin sign Japanese. Pidgin sign Japanese is adjusting
words of sign language to Japanese grammar. So what exactly is Japanese sign language? Well, it has a different grammar than the regular Japanese. There are grammatical differences. For example, in Japanese when you say,
“What would you like to eat?” you use certain grammar. However, with Japanese sign language
you say, “eat want what?” So, the word “what” comes
at the end of the sentence. Of course, this is only one example, but as you can see,
the grammar is not the same. So this tendency can be seen
all around the world. In the US, There’s American Sign Language used by Deaf people and the Pidgin Sign English based on English grammar, There are two categories
of Sign Languages in the US. It’s not just the case for Japan. It’s the same for the United States. Now, I’d like to give you
an example of four sentences. “I’ll study hard if I get into college.”
“I’ll study hard as I got into college.” “I study hard though I got into college.”
“I study hard to get into college.” All these sentences used four key words: “college”, “getting into”, “study”, and “hard”. So how do you express the differences
among these sentences? Well, you use your neck differently
between the words “college” and “study.” You might think of Sign Language that it’s just the hands that matter but as you can see, it’s not. Your eyebrows angle,
or your neck moving, your whole body matters. it’s not just gestures. There are grammatical rules
for using your body as a part of sign language. This comprises sign language. So in Japanese we say
“speaking with hands” but it’s called, “Sign Language”. The language of signs in English. In Chinese, I’m not sure how to pronounce
but it’s called “hand language.” In this sense, sign language is recognized as a language with its own grammar all over the world. So what kind of problems do Deaf people face in their real lives? What are we doing for them? Let me show you a few examples. I want you to imagine this. When somebody falls down
in front of you, what will you do? Of course, you want to help them. At first you may call the ambulance. But the Deaf don’t hear,
so they can’t call the ambulance. They can’t make emergency calls in case of fire or a medical emergency. Because the Deaf don’t hear. They can’t call anything. So we’ve come up with
these video relay interpreting services. Let me show you how it works. Recently you usually use a PC, Skype, or tablet PC. Let me give a demonstration. I’ll call our call center in Kanagawa. This is our interpreter waiting.
Voice: “It’s a sign language operator.” It answers like this. The interpreter has been waiting now. For example, “My son doesn’t feel very well and he’s vomiting and gets diarrhea. Can you please call me an ambulance?” Of course, you can say it
the other way around. You can use the sign language, and have the interpreter
translate it into Japanese. Therefore, the Deaf too can call for help. Now our video relay interpreting
services are implemented in several public offices
and private stores so that the Deaf can access
certain services, too. Even the simplest tasks
are difficult for the Deaf. If you want to buy clothing, you need to go to a store and talk to someone. It’s not like buying something
in a vending machine. You actually need to go to the store, talk to the clerk, and ask questions. “Do you have these colors?
Do you have that size?” But with these services, the Deaf can easily go to stores and shop just as we do. These are our solutions. I mentioned telephones but there are
also radios, music players, or more recently Siri, but all of these technologies
are absolutely useless to the Deaf. That’s why we started our company, the “ShuR” group. The name comes from “shuwa” which means sign language in Japanese, but actually it’s Shu
and the “r” of the “to be” verb which means a world
with a sign language existing in it. Our mission is “Tech for the Deaf”.
We want to bring technology to the Deaf. There are various technologies:
PCs, cellphones, Skype – and we’re trying to combine these and adjust them so that the Deaf can use them as well. You might wonder why I do it.
A lot of people ask me this. A lot of people think I must have
some relatives or friends who I might need to speak
sign language with. But not at all. So why? When I was younger,
when I was in high school, I wanted to be a photographer
going into battle fields. I wanted to go places, like war zones,
and show the world what was going on in these places. This was my dream job when I was younger. Therefore, I went
to the United States to study. These are classmates
in my journalism class. We worked on newspapers together. However, when I came back to Japan,
I gave up on my dream. I can hardly earn a living
as a photographer. I got into general college and joined
the sign language club, which I started actually. The reason for it was simply because
I thought it might be interesting. It might be fun or something different. This is how I started.
I cherish this experience. It really changed my life. After 5 months, we were asked to perform
on a national TV program. I also became a part of a choir
using sign language. And following this occasion, I realized how little entertainment
there was in sign language. Of course, there are a few TV series
and there’s the news. It’s OK, but of course, news is not entertainment and most TV series are for us, not for the Deaf. We wanted to create entertainment that the Deaf could enjoy too. To make it happen, we started a student volunteer group. We made some TV programs,
such as a travel show, and we promoted them online. I supported their activity
in volunteer work. Then, I realized one more thing – the issues that the Deaf have to face, the ones I have mentioned. For example, they cannot call emergency. When applying for a job, they have
very poor scores on the TOEIC exam because, of course, they cannot hear. It makes it hard to get a job. Even if they get the job,
it’s difficult for them to blend in. I thought this was a serious problem. I had to do something about it. I had to do something about it. But I was only 21 years old.
What could I do? I had no idea. I thought about it
over and over again. For example, I could become a researcher, write papers, and solve problems that way. Or become a politician and change a law or become a millionaire like Bill Gates and raise money for donation. Or work for a company and try to solve problems from the inside. There was one other option: start my own business as an entrepreneur. At that time I was 21. It seemed the easiest way to do what I wanted to do was to become an entrepreneur. It’s not like I wanted to become a CEO. I just wanted to solve these problems and I thought this was the easiest
and fastest and best way to do it. I started my company ShuR Group in 2008. It’s been more than four years now. We use business to solve
problems of the Deaf. As a message for you, I would like to share with you: act. The reason why I started
learning sign language was because it was fun. It’s not like I seriously
thought about it. Then I moved on to other activities
like volunteering and realized that there are
significant problems to solve. When you run into obstacles,
continue to act and think simultaneously. Even if you run into obstacles,
don’t stop moving. Then, you meet people. You meet friends who will act with you or you meet someone
who will give you a helping hand. In this way, the number of people
you involve will increase. So it’s really important to work together, to act together,
if you want to solve a big problem. Try to take action first. however small the action is. Start with something simple. Whatever you do, act. This will be the start of making
a big difference. Thank you so much. (Applause)

6 Replies to “技術を聴覚障がい者の為に: 起業し手話問題を解決: 大木 洵人 at TEDxFukuoka”

  • トを利用した手話通訳「遠隔手­話通訳(テルテルコンシェルジュ)」などを開発してきた。2012年には、世界的な社­会起業家のネットワーク「アショカ・フェロー」 に東アジア地区から初選出される快挙を成

  • this is the only talk i found with transliteration in japanese. a bit disappointed at thinking how people would put up apparences for the deaf, as if this was the only video they need to watch ?

  • 筆談でいいのでは?
    Do you think it is enough to write communication on SKYPE in stead of using sign language ?

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