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【Center News】A New Program Working Towards 2020 for Communication with People with Disabilities

The Inclusive Communication Academy, named “Asuchalle Academy," is a new educational program for university students and adults to learn how to better communicate with people with disabilities. All lecturers have disabilities themselves. The first "Asuchalle Academy" seminar took place on November 24 at supporting company NEC Corporation, with around 50 NEC employees attending.

"We hope to contribute to creating a society of equality, and to make this our legacy beyond 2020." —Masaaki Suganuma, NEC

"We hope to contribute to creating a society of equality, and to make this our legacy beyond 2020." —Masaaki Suganuma, NEC。

Motoyama, Director of Paralympic Support Center Promotional Strategy Department. "Everyone—including people with disabilities, senior citizens, people with strollers—was watching the Paralympic Games with bright eyes," regarding the Rio Paralympics he attended.

In "Asuchalle Academy," lecturers with diverse backgrounds talk of their personal experiences and teach students how to better communicate with people with disabilities. Katsuhiro Motoyama of the Paralympic Support Center took the stage next for a greeting speech. He said, "The program was designed with the hope that students will not merely learn facts, but truly realize and deepen their understanding through real communication and group work, and be able to apply what they learned from the very next day. I hope all of you become an advocate for inclusive society after this seminar."

Totally blind lecturer Haraguchi shares real experiences

Jun Haraguchi, the lecturer, used earphones, a computer and a projector to communicate with students. He introduced himself as an ambitious person who tried skiing and bicycling as a child. "My parents and other people around me never told me to stop doing something because I might hurt myself."

「The seminar started with the words, "Welcome to 'Asuchalle Academy.' In this seminar, you will learn how to better communicate with people with disabilities, whom you may not have a lot of opportunities to interact with on a daily basis." The lecturer of this memorable first "Asuchalle Academy" seminar was Jun Haraguchi, blind soccer athlete who was born totally blind.


He asked the students, "Why do you think we need to learn how to communicate better with people with disabilities?" In his soft-spoken way, he talked about how Japan is using the 2020 Games to promote accessibility: "In the future, being able to effortlessly communicate with people with disabilities will be a basic skill."Haraguchi then talked about the London Paralympic Games, which was a big turning point for the Paralympic movement, and about the remaining issues and his hopes for the Games which will be held in his own country.

In the latter half of the seminar, students were given a worksheet. The curriculum was divided in three parts: Realization (realizing what "disabilities" are), Understanding (understanding how to communicate) and Group work (learning how to creatively think how to behave). Students were given tips on how to communicate with people with disabilities (Inclusive Communication).

"The London Paralympic Games changed attitudes and perceptions towards disabilities." Students showed great interest in the impact of the Paralympic Games.

"You cannot change what is on the outside (facility, equipment), but you can change what is on the inside (respect, consideration)." Students filled worksheets with their realizations.

In addition to visually impaired people like Haraguchi, students also learned how to better communicate with deaf people, amputees and people with intellectual disabilities.

Students discussed their thoughts in pairs, in response to the instructor's question, "When you hear the word disability, what do you think of?"

Specific tips on how to offer help to people with various disabilities

There were some difficult questions, like, "Where would be a good place for a date with a person in a wheelchair?" or, "In a fire or emergency, how do you get everybody, including people with disabilities, evacuated safely?" Students used their creativity to find answers through group work and role-playing.

Turning thought to action.

Students received a certificate after completing the seminar. Student comments included, "I will tell my family about what I learned today and try to practice it, because my children might be watching," and, "In the past when someone needed help, I often was at a loss at what to do, but from now on I plan to ask them if they need help and actually take action."

Students received certificates after completing the seminar. "I hope you practice what you learned today, whether when watching Para-sports, offering volunteer services, or other occasions."

After the seminar, Haraguchi said, "I was nervous because it was the first seminar, but I think I was able to engage with the participants, instead of a one-way communication, and I enjoyed giving the lecture. Many already had a high sense of awareness of the issue, and it was exciting to anticipate responses that exceeded the extent of my lecture."

With this auspicious start, the Paralympic Support Center will continue to hold "Asuchalle Academy" seminars in Tokyo and Osaka. The goal is to reach a total of 1,000 students within this fiscal year.

text&photos by Parasapo

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