Recently Soya Mori visited Hirakata-shi and gave a special lecture sponsored by a local sign language group. Mori is the Deputy Director and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies (Poverty Alleviation and Social Development Studies Group, Interdisciplinary Studies Center). He is also an expert in the linguistics of sign languages. His lecture dealt with the situation of handicapped people and sign languages in various countries, especially those in Asia. It was a real treat to see his very academic lecture on sign language in Japanese Sign Language. You can learn more about his group and his research at the Institute of Developing Economies website.
These photos document his lecture and the reception that followed.
An important tangent: This lecture's sponsoring group recently changed its name from "Sign Language Circle 「Atelier」" to "Japanese Sign Language 「Atelier」." There are hundreds of sign language circles in Japan - Atelier wanted to distinguish itself and affirm that they study and promote Japanese Sign Language as opposed to Signed Japanese (which is what most sign language circles in Japan study.) Currently the Japanese Federation of the Deaf is not promoting JSL or identifying it as a real language on par with Japanese. This is an odd stance, especially considering the research of Mori and countless others on the linguistics of sign languages. The name change is a political action aimed at spreading awareness and fighting discrimination in the realms of communication and education.