Supporting Group - Excellent Work (Japan)
“New Communication”
Third-year student, General Course, High School Department, Ibaraki Prefectural School for the Blind
Tsubasa Ootaka(17)

As means of communication, in the past I thought there were merely direct conversion and communication through something, such as Line, email, telephone, letter, etc.
However, I came to learn “finger braille”, a new communication method. Finger braille is a means to communicate with the other by as if typing braille characters using 6 keys of a braille typewriter linked to the other’s index finger, middle finger and ring finger of both hands.

In the last school year, a deaf-blind friend was transferred from other school into my class. Because he can hear a little using his left ear, I tried to speak slowly and loudly close to his left ear.
One day, an incident occurred. I failed to successfully tell him the place for physical exercise class and he alone ended up in waiting for everyone in a wrong place. I thought, “how much he felt uneasiness during the time he was waiting alone. If I had been able to tell him more precisely, he could have been able to join the others.”  Then, I desperately tried to think how I can communicate information to him in a more easily understandable manner. Then I decided to communicate by writing hiragana letters on his palm. However, I found that it took a lot more time to communicate and it caused delays.
On a school excursion to Okinawa, we sit on a tour bus side-by-side with each other. I began to feel that I wanted to tell him what the bus tour guide told us and sceneries inside and outside. I tried to do so by speaking rather loudly close to his ear, but I could not tell him sufficiently. Therefore, I wrote down hiragana letters on his palm. It sounded that I was able to communicate by doing so but since the speed the bus tour guide spoke was fast and I was not able to catch up with it at all. I felt my inability.
At that time, he spoke to me, “Do you use braille? If so, there is also ‘finger braille’”. I learned braille a little during the time I was an elementary school student but because I was slow to learn it, I gave up”. Right away on the spot, I asked him, “I would like you to teach me braille”. He showed a delighted smile and taught me the systems of braille in an easily understandable manner.
In order to be able to tell him as much information as possible and therefore to learn finger braille as soon as possible, I eagerly practiced it during free time on the excursion. Also before going to bed, I repeatedly practiced Japanese alphabets, and I was able to memorize them during the excursion of 4 days and 3 nights.

Although my finger braille interpretation was slow and in an unsteady manner, it was faster than communication by writing hiragana letters on his palm and I was able to tell him explanations made by the bus tour guide. And on his side, he input what he heard into a braille memo of an information device for the blind as memos. He told me that he wrote down that I learned finger braille on the page of the day of his diary and I felt his joy.

I began to more and more feel that I would like to speak with him a lot. As a result of my learning of finger braille, small talk times with him increased. When I look back on the times and think why I tried to learn finger braille eagerly, I came to notice that it was not only that I wanted to tell correct information but that I wanted to know more about him. I had a strong wish to strengthen a bond with him as a friend.
I again realized that communication itself, not limited to communication by finger braille, is extremely important when we keep living. I would like to keep cherishing communication and friendship going forward.



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