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First 'Japanese Sign Language' phone booths installed at Haneda Airport

A woman speaks with a "Japanese Sign Language" operator using one of the phone booths installed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo's Ota Ward, on Dec. 3, 2017. (Mainichi)

The first public "Japanese Sign Language" phone booths for the hearing impaired were installed at Haneda Airport on Dec. 3, it has been learned.

    The installation of the booths coincided with the United Nation's International Day of Persons with Disabilities by The Nippon Foundation. Looking toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the foundation plans to introduce the phone booths to other main domestic airports such as Narita for Japanese with hearing disabilities.

    The two Haneda phones were set up in the departure lobbies of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The inside of the booth is fitted with a monitor, and the user is connected with an operator that can serve as a Japanese Sign Language interpreter for conversations. No registration is needed to use the phone booth, and it can be used free of charge from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Making it possible for people to use communication services regardless of any disability connects with the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games vision for realizing "a fully-inclusive society."

    "There is a need to speed up efforts to make communication barrier-free with less than 1,000 days until the Olympics and Paralympics begin," commented Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii, who attended the unveiling ceremony for the booths.

    Japanese Federation of the Deaf Deputy Director Yoshihiro Hasegawa explained, "Assistance was required when using phones that are sound-only. By using these sign language phones, users can directly communicate smoothly."

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