Saturday, October 31, 2009

"1st grad school for visually, aurally challenged to be launched"

From Japan Today, 10/31/09:

Japan’s first graduate school for students with visual or aural handicaps will be launched next April at the state-run Tsukuba University of Technology in Ibaraki Prefecture, it said Friday. It will be the world’s first graduate school for visually impaired students and the third for hearing-impaired ones, following such schools as Gallaudet University in the United States, according to the university.

Master’s degrees will be offered in two faculties—industrial technology for visually challenged students and health science courses for hearing-impaired students, which will focus on acupuncture and moxibustion as well as physical therapy. The university is planning to provide various learning aids, such as sign language, Braille and magnified letters to accommodate the students’ needs.

Good news, perhaps, but word to the wise: sign language is not a "learning aid." And why should blind and deaf people be limited to only two fields of study? This story is another classic example of the deficit model of deafness (and other so-called handicaps): let's help the disabled by giving them prescribed programs. Such good intentions ignore the basic human rights of minority peoples who use different languages and/or language delivery systems than the majority.

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