Providing everyone with equal opportunities to enjoy culture and the arts: Kanagawa Prefectural Civic Hall's efforts in response to the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities


In the first part, Mr. Koji Onoue, Vice-Chairman of the Japan Conference of Disabled Persons International (DPI), gave a lecture on the Act on Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities. There was a lecture on what this specifically means, and in the second part, a panel discussion was held between representatives of the four disability-related organizations that hosted the tournament at the hall, and the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Facilities Management Department. .

What is “reasonable accommodation” for people with disabilities?

"Unfair discriminatory treatment" refers to being refused entry to a store, refused a housing contract, or refused entrance exams or admission by a school on the basis of a disability. "Reasonable accommodation" is accommodation that is tailored to the characteristics of the disability and the difficulties faced, so that people with and without disabilities are "given equal opportunities and can participate" in social life such as education and employment. It means.
With the enforcement of the Act to Eliminate Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, public institutions such as governments and schools are required to provide as much reasonable accommodation as possible. The obligation to make efforts was also imposed on private businesses such as general companies and shops.


Koji Onoue, Vice-Chairman of DPI (Disabled Persons International) Japan Conference

Mr. Koji Onoue, the first speaker, uses a wheelchair due to a disability, and he explained this ``reasonable accommodation'' in an easy-to-understand manner.

“A wheelchair user was able to go to a concert by his favorite popular rock band.However, when he went to the venue in his wheelchair, the venue staff predicted that it would be crowded, so he had to leave a few songs before the end of the concert. I was asked if I could do it.

I really wanted to see the encore, so I asked if I could be the last one to leave the venue, but I was told, ``If something happens...'', so I had a hard time agreeing. I didn't get it.

Apparently, this person negotiated persistently with the venue staff and was able to watch the encore by being the last to leave the audience. However, when I remembered what was supposed to be a fun concert, this unpleasant exchange came back to me, and I had mixed memories. ”

After this talk, Mr. Onoe asked what the staff at the venue were saying, ``What if something were to happen?'' we were asked.

That's because they lack a concrete idea of what would happen if something ``really'' happened. Instead of thinking about this, they try to put the responsibility and patience on the part of people with disabilities in case something happens.

By imagining each of the things that could happen "if something happens" and thinking about what to do in that case, what to do in this case, problem solving becomes concrete, and the necessary equipment, rules, etc. Measures for improvement will be created.
By doing so, more people with disabilities will be able to enjoy concerts in the same way as people without disabilities. This is what it means to provide "reasonable accommodation."

"I can't give you special treatment" and "There's no precedent" are just statements that stop you from thinking. Being indifferent to the needs of people with disabilities without changing themselves is a major barrier to "reasonable accommodation" and constitutes "discrimination against people with disabilities."

Kanagawa Prefectural Hall’s “reasonable accommodation” efforts

The second part was moderated by Ms. Onoue, who had been on stage for some of the speakers, and Yuriko Komai of the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Facility Management Department, who spoke about dyslexia, which has difficulty reading and writing, and who organized the national convention of a disability-related organization. Eiko Todo, chairperson of NPO EDGE, which supports people with intellectual disabilities; Chikako Yoda, chairperson of the Kanagawa Prefecture Holding Hands Training Association, which is made up of parents and supporters of people with intellectual disabilities; It was a panel discussion between Mr. Akira Ishibashi, Chairman of the Federation of Parents of Free Children, and Mr. Masahiro Kawahara, Chairman of the Kanagawa Prefecture Federation of the Hearing Impaired.


Kanagawa Prefectural Hall Facility Management Division Yuriko Komai

Kanagawa Kenmin Hall, located in a location overlooking Yamashita Park, a popular tourist destination in Yokohama, is a large-scale cultural facility with a rich history and tradition.This year marks the 41st anniversary of its opening. Although it was a well-thought-out design as a state-of-the-art building of the time, it was still old from a barrier-free perspective, and there were many issues such as eliminating steps and improving the toilets.

However, it is difficult to change the building, but by holding study sessions on barrier-free issues at the Prefectural Hall and conducting interviews with people who work at other facilities for people with disabilities and users, we can change the mindset of the staff and make it possible to hold the tournament. He seems to have worked to solve the problem.

We will introduce the preparation process leading up to the tournament, which was carried out through repeated dialogue between Kanagawa Prefectural Hall and each organization, as well as the opinions expressed from each organization's perspective of disability, and suggestions for the future.

1. Consideration for users with reading and writing difficulties

Eiko Todo, chairperson of NPO EDGE, gave the following explanation about dyslexia, a disorder that is still relatively unknown in Japan.
``Dyslexia is a disorder in which there is no abnormality in the visual or auditory organs and no intellectual problems, but there is significant difficulty in the ability to read and write letters.The shapes of letters and the parts that make up letters move. They seem to stick together, making it difficult to receive information in text."
For this reason, the Prefectural Hall conducted interviews regarding the shape of letters that would be easier for people with dyslexia to read, and changed the font of letters in questionnaires and pamphlets from the decorative Mincho font to a rounded Gothic font, which is said to be easier to read. did. They also seem to have taken measures to make it easier to read, such as leaving spaces between lines and phrases.
Mr. Todo made a suggestion for the future: ``The information signs inside the venue were difficult to understand because they had a lot of text, so it would be good if they could also display pictograms.''

2. Consideration for people with intellectual disabilities and wheelchair users

Restrooms are a problem at tournaments where there are many people who need helpers to wash their hands and people who use wheelchairs. However, there are apparently eight wheelchair-accessible toilets in the Prefectural Hall (two of which are underground, so there are six).

Yuriko Komai of the Facility Management Division talks about the hall's efforts to address this problem of the number of toilets.
"We have assigned staff to each floor so that they can use the restrooms without crowding, and we have used intercoms to share information on congestion to provide smooth navigation. Also, although it is not possible to add more elevators right away, We took measures such as using the elevator for delivery and not having it stop on other floors on the day of the event (staff not using it, not allowing other events to enter on the same day, etc.).

Ms. Yoda Yoda, chairperson of the Kanagawa Prefecture Holding Hands Training Association, an organization related to intellectual disabilities, said:
``There are people who need assistance using the toilet even if they are not in a wheelchair.When entering a private room with the assistance of a person of the opposite sex, it is difficult to tell from their appearance that they are disabled.Sometimes people are concerned about being seen. It would be good if gender-free and universal restroom signs were disseminated.''

Mr. Akira Ishibashi, chairman of the Kanagawa Prefecture Federation of Parents of Physically Disabled Children, said,
A suggestion was made: ``It would be good to have a place (care room) where diapers can be changed not only for children but also for adults.''

This time, Mr. Ishibashi researched in advance the barrier-free route for wheelchair users to get from Haneda Airport or Tokyo Station to Yokohama and provided information to visitors.
The Kenmin Hall has published detailed photos and information on the barrier-free route from the nearest Nihon-Odori Station to the venue on its website.

In addition to these soft measures, as it is also an absolutely necessary facility, the Prefectural Hall has installed a new staircase called ``Flex Step'' that can be used as a wheelchair-accessible lift in the area leading to the stage waiting room. did.

Until now, wheelchairs had to be raised and lowered manually, and once speakers were lifted up, they were unable to move around because they were concerned about the people around them.
However, since the Flex Step does not require a caregiver to operate it, performers in wheelchairs can now freely go in and out of the stage waiting room on their own. The design is not boring like a luggage lift, but rather has a nice furniture-like design, which has been very well received.


Flex Step, which is normally used as stairs, but becomes a lift when using a wheelchair

3. Consideration for users with hearing impairments

Next, Masahiro Kawahara, chairman of the Kanagawa Prefecture Federation of the Hearing Impaired, spoke.
``The problem with being deaf is that it's hard to tell in everyday life that you have a disability, so it's easy for people to think that you've been ignored even when you've spoken to them.Also, because information that comes naturally through the ears doesn't come through,... There is a huge difference in the ability to obtain information and knowledge compared to people with normal hearing.
There was an explanation about the problems faced by people with hearing impairments.

This time, when holding a tournament where many people with hearing impairments gathered, we were concerned about how to notify people in the event of an emergency such as an earthquake, but the Prefectural Hall was not equipped with an electronic bulletin board that could display text messages. .
Therefore, at this year's tournament, we prepared to display a large message on the screen behind the stage in the event of an earthquake early warning.

In addition, the requests made by Mr. Kawahara and his colleagues at the preliminary hearing were:
``I would like to signal the start of the performance not only by a buzzer, but also by slowly flashing lights.''
``We want venue staff to have writing utensils for communication and pictures to guide them through the venue, and to guide them by pointing their fingers at them.''
In response, the Prefectural Hall signaled the start of the performance with flashing lights, venue staff learned simple sign language that can be used for greetings and facility information, and carried writing utensils for written communication so that they could be seen by the other person. We are ready to communicate with you.''

Mr. Kawahara said, ``Up until now, when renting a venue, I had never had the venue ask me if I had any requests, so I was very glad that they asked me in advance.'' The response was evaluated.


Masahiro Kawahara, Chairman of the Kanagawa Prefecture Federation of the Hearing Impaired

4. Consideration for users with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism

Many people with dyslexia also have developmental disorders, and Mr. Todo, chairman of NPO EDGE, and Mr. Yoda, chairman of Kanagawa Prefecture Holding Hands Training Association, explained the characteristics of each.

For example, people who are not good at sitting still for long periods of time, people who are sensitive to the loudness of sounds, echoes, the intensity of lighting, and flickering lights, and people who feel uncomfortable unless their plans go according to plan. People who are unable to understand the instructions announced when an accident occurs, etc.

The organization and the venue discuss these characteristics carefully, and find the best consensus on each point, including how to include breaks, how to use lighting and sound effects, how to set rehearsal time, and be careful about the wording of announcements when something happens. I looked for it.

For example, when an earthquake occurs and an evacuation order is issued, people with these disabilities tend to become anxious and panic.
Therefore, instead of saying things like "please don't push me" or "please don't run" to "don't do it" or "don't let me do it", speak calmly and say "specifically what you want me to do" like "please walk slowly". It is important to speak up.

In response to this, the Prefectural Hall has carefully selected words that are easy to read, understand, and answer, both in the earthquake announcements shown on the screen and in the questionnaires that participants are asked to fill out after the tournament.


Ideas for earthquake early warning announcement text

To create an inclusive society, we must first change the soft aspects.

Mr. Komai of Kenmin Hall has been working with various organizations to obtain the necessary consideration from people with various characteristics of disabilities and to enable as many people with disabilities as possible to enjoy using cultural facilities. First of all, we checked what the barriers were, had staff experience it, obtained information from other facilities, and thoroughly listened to the stories of those involved.
From there, they worked on a cycle of identifying problems, considering solutions, narrowing down the options, proposing alternatives, implementing what could be implemented, and moving on to the next issue with what could not.

In this way, we first listen to what the parties have to say, and then repeat consultations and reports to reach an agreement. At this symposium, we learned that the accumulation of dialogue will erase barriers one by one.


To find out what is the barrier

The Act to Eliminate Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities was enacted this year, but do you know how many facilities for cultural and artistic appreciation and sports viewing are currently barrier-free in Japan?

According to Mr. Onoe of the DPI (Disabled Persons International) Japan Conference, for example, of the 46,000 seats at Tokyo Dome, there are only 12 wheelchair seats. Moreover, the caregiver is required to sit at the back of the wheelchair, so they cannot enjoy the baseball game together.
By the way, at Yankee Stadium in the United States, there are 68 wheelchair seats, 2 to 300 seats, and you can choose your favorite seat. There is also an extra-large elevator and a large ramp, allowing for smooth movement.

As an example, there has been a huge difference in awareness between Japan and the United States regarding ``opportunities for social participation'' for people with disabilities.


Response/implementation process

To build an inclusive society (where all people are included and supported as members of society, without being isolated or excluded), where everyone can equally enjoy the appreciation of culture and art and watching sports, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. The first thing that can be done is to change the ``soft side'' of people.

There are many reasons why things cannot be done right away, such as the age of the building, the inconvenience, and the lack of budget. However, by changing the mindset of the people working there, they can actively listen to the needs of people with disabilities. I was able to learn from the efforts of the Prefectural Hall to host this year's tournaments for various organizations that it is possible to develop an attitude of learning, generate ideas and wisdom for solutions, and make improvements little by little.

This case study will be very useful not only for other public facilities, but also for general companies and stores, and will spread its positive influence.

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