USA-Japan Symposium on 6th Challenged Japan Forum was
held on August 30 and 31, 2000 in Tokyo. At the symposium,
two American guests, Ms. Dinah Cohen and Prof. Larry
Leifer lectured. Ms. Cohen is the Director of CAP,
which has developed a system for providing suitable
working conditions for the disabled, and Prof. Dr.
Leifer is an authority of web-based learning system
(WBL) at Stanford University. In the forum, their keynote
addresses and related discussions were followed by
several discussions by company directors, the central
government officials endeavoring to create a new social
system, and governors implementing in their prefectures
several innovative methods to improve the situation
of the disabled and the aged. The forum with 400 participants
was visited and encouraged on the second day by Mr.
Hiranuma, the Minister of International Trade and Industry.
This report is mainly focused on Cohen's and Leifer's lectures.
The main theme of this CJF was 'Let's be proud: the proposals
from the challenged about utilizing IT for learning and working
CHK' The theme was conceived Nami Takenaka, the representative
of Prop Station, who has been impressed by Cohen's ideas and
attitude. Learning about CAP from Cohen, she questioned her why
the Department of Defense eagerly employed the disabled workers.
Cohen's answer was clear and impressive: the first step of defense
of a country is to allow its every citizen to live with pride.
Both the lecturers have disabilities and made proposals from
the viewpoint of disabled people. Cohen suffers from internal
disease while Leifer has hearing
impairment. Cohen also has parents who need assistance for daily life. As their
health could change, the organizers had been anxious whether she would be able
to visit Japan until she actually left JFK airport to Tokyo. They also prepared
satellite conference system connecting Pentagon and the venue of the forum,
for the case of her absence. (Discussion between Cohen at Pentagon
and people in
Tokyo might have been another great attempt, though.)
She, in spite of the others' anxiety, started her lecture with
a cheerful 'good morning', waking up the whole audience's attention.
She informed them the significance
of employing the challenged based on economical and social reasons. Her lecture,
with her self-confident presentation, must have impressed the audience mostly
Employing the disabled requires lower cost than imagined.
Cohen criticized the conventional idea that 'employing
the disabled is expensive', and showed several supporting data.
US government enforced ADA in 1990 to prohibit discrimination in employing people
by their disabilities. By the law, constructing barrier-free facilities in public
buildings and transport system was switched from a special policy for the disabled
to a general development of infrastructure. Then US government implemented a
research of the cost for providing individual assistive devices to disabled employees
to work as efficiently as those without disabilities. The result showed that
31% of the disabled required no special expenses for accommodation, 38% required
from $1 to 500; 19%, from $500 to 1,000; 11%, from $1,000 to 5,000; and only
1% required over $5,000.
Though Cohen herself has used no accommodation,
she is offered special machinery as a manager of a division, which
requires higher expenses than accommodation
for the disabled. She claimed that employing competent disabled workers, cost
for accommodation could be recovered soon.
US government and industry develop technology
for the disabled
US Department of Defense has 1.2 million military
and 700 thousand civilian employees. The percentage of the challenged
workers among the whole employees is unknown, but CAP from its
establishment in 1990 to 1999 received 17 thousand requests for
accommodation for the challenged workers. The cost for accommodation
is usually under one thousand dollars.
In Japan, many of the challenged would be able to
do present digitized clerical work by using assistive devices which
cost under 100 thousand yen. But usually
they face difficulty in commuting because transportation system and buildings
do not provide with necessary facility for their mobility. Even though they
could commute, accommodating their working circumstances often
cost much higher than
in USA due to the delay of assistive technology development in Japan.
In USA, such technology has been more advanced than
other countries since Section 508 of Vocational Rehabilitation
Act was enforced in 1986 to provide that electronic
devices procured by the federal government should be accessible for people
with disabilities. The law specifies functions of each device.
Makers regard the federal government as one of the
largest and most important customers. So they follow the government's
guideline to develop electronic
appliances. Once they develop such appliances, they can manufacture them
for general public
at lower cost.
Cohen said that assistive technology is developed
not only by makers, but also by the Department of Defense (DoD)
itself, utilizing technology for
purpose. 'DoD, for example, has developed a system to fire at a target
according to the operator's eye movement. The technology first developed
the country then can be applied as an input device for the people with
disabilities in both hands and feet'.
Such development must require a great investment
initially, but an input device applying the same technology could
be developed at much lower
With CAP's assistive technology, 70% of the efficient,
challenged employees have been promoted.
With advanced assistive devices for the disabled,
many federal government departments of the have tried to employ
the disabled. The federal government officially call for job applicants
through CAP and the President's Committee on Employment of the
Handicapped (PCEH) collaboratively interview disabled students
at 160 colleges in USA. They make a database on the interview,
and US departments and agencies employ internship students with
disabilities for two months during the summer vacation.
This short-period experience offers an opportunity
to the students to know how they can work, and to the managers
to work with disabled people. They usually
have a good experience, and managers' attitude against employing disabled people
Cohen also reported that 70% of disabled employees
who have assisted by CAP's accommodation program have been promoted.
It is important that American employers consider
that it is more profitable for themselves to employ efficient workers
regardless of their disabilities,
to accommodate working conditions for disabled, efficient workers. In Japan,
though a law provides the obligation of companies to employ the disabled
at a certain rate, few of the disabled employees have been promoted. The
not Japanese disabled employees are less efficient than American counterparts.
The most important factor is that the working conditions are still unsuitable
for Japanese employees to work as efficiently as other workers without
disabilities. Employers' awareness is still low and regard the
problem as disabled workers'
US government, while the situation in Japan is getting
behind, started a remote-working system, SOHO using advanced communication
a case of
a single mother of six children, who was diagnosed as cerebral tumor
and expected to live three months. Cohen and other CAP members
wish to work
from home, and the single mother lived longer than the first diagnosis
by one year.
'The reason', Cohen said, 'was that she did not
stay at home only waiting for her death but continued working as
she wished. Her way of living
is our ideal
model. She proved her efficiency at home using her experience. I am
proud of her, who worked proudly until she died'.
CAP Director agrees with Prop's idea of 'Making
the challenged taxpayers!'
Why does US government eagerly support the disabled
employees? They follow ADA, which prevents discrimination based
on disabilities in employing workers. DoD also bear responsibility
for injured and disabled soldiers. But they regarded most highly
the same issue as that in Japan, the highly aged society in the
Cohen told us that the average age of American workers
is 47 at present, and will become higher. Managers who have never
worked with disable workers will
at least one such worker in ten years.
Cohen also referred to the future social leaders
and ideal society. She insisted that the leader should know how
to utilize IT efficiently for the disabled.
The disabled include women and minority races. The leader of tomorrow should
'Anyone can be disabled tomorrow, but no one knows
when and how. Christopher Reeve, the actor of "Superman", for example, was thrown headfirst from his horse
in an accident in 1995 that broke his neck and left him paralyzed. The managers
at government and companies should understand this and endeavor for employing
'Regardless of disabilities, it is better to offer
a person a job spending $1,000 a year than to leave a person without
a job. Then the person will
not only spend
the tax, but also pay tax. 75% of the disabled are willing to work. Why
don't you use so many potential workforces?'
The last paragraph coincidences the slogan of Prop
Station's idea 'Making the society where the challenged can become
taxpayers!' Nami Takenaka,
of Prop Station implies in the slogan 'to regain pride of the challenged
as supporting members of the society', which is very similar to Cohen's
idea, who also has
a disability. Lastly, she made an impressive statement, 'I have pride
as it is'.
Disabilities stimulate collaborative work using
To compete efficiency with those without disabilities,
the disabled people would need, besides inexpensive assistive technology
and employment support using such technology, the same level of
education as others. In Japan, however, only a few colleges and
technical schools have facility to accept disabled students. Some
people study through education by correspondence, with less opportunity
to discuss with other students or to work collaboratively.
Prof. Leifer, Director of the Stanford University
Learning Laboratory introduced us web-based learning, which will
improve the education opportunity for disabled
The research at the laboratory, according to Leifer,
is like a technology in human mind. They develop learning methods
in which students do not have to
adjust themselves to the learning system, but the system is adjusted for
The education system has been changed greatly using the Web.
In this program, the lecturer appears on the student's
computer display. Students learn at any time, in any place, and
at their desirable speed.
The system may seem as education by correspondence
using the Internet, but the researchers expect more. Leifer said
that their dream is to digitize
to be shared by all the students over the world accessing from different
time and place. Then students from over the world will be able to discuss
collaboratively on the Web as if they learn in one room.
Stanford University has already implemented such
learning system in cooperation with a Japanese college using project-based
learning (PBL) method. American
and Japanese students in small groups discuss and give ideas to solve
Leifer introduced several cases using the learning
system for education or job where the disabled people have equal
'The challenged need mutual communication to attain
a goal together. They may ask a teacher or an expert for help,
but without help, they
by searching for necessary information and discussing. Web makes
In an international PBL, difference of languages
may bother even people without disabilities. But Leifer insisted
languages would rather give
'In our research, sometimes joint studies done by
researchers from different countries using different languages
than those conducted
by researchers in a same laboratory speaking a common language.
Why? Perhaps because people become more careful in communication
do not know
each other well and do not speak the same language. For example,
they clarify the problems in writing and try to communicate
may consider. This makes a joint study more effective'.
Communication will give better results if you make
efforts to tell something as much as possible to someone regardless
the other, or
the both have physical disability and whatever the disability
is. Leifer himself
hearing impairment. His lecture with a thorough observation
and consideration of communication
problem might be the result from the fight against his own
he declaration for the 6th USA-Japan
on Challenged Japan Forum 2000
We have held two-day forum on August 30 and 31, 2000 in
Tokyo entitled 6th USA-Japan Symposium on Challenged Japan
Forum 2000. Under the slogan ''Let's be proud'', more than
450 people had attended this Forum. Many examples have been
shown, and lively discussion has taken place regarding the
new way of learning and employment of challenged utilizing
We are living in a world of ''IT Revolution'' where changes
of various social activities are taking place at unprecedented
scale and speed aided by information technology. This ''IT
Revolution'' has removed many barriers among the social structure
and created new person-to-person relationship. Especially
notable is that this ''IT Revolution'' brought a possibility
of working in the society's front line to the challenged
whose social life has been closed shut until now.
At the Challenged Japan Forum, we call the disabled who
are eager to work and support other people and the society
''The challenged-one who has been set a challenge by God
to overcome certain difficulty'', and has been trying to
establish the new social system to realize their wish to
work. Since our first forum in 1995, people from business
field, academia, government, NPOs, local communities as well
as the challenged themselves have supported our activities.
They have had a same hope regardless of nationality and organization
they belong to. We have gained more and more supporters and
extensive relationship with such people.
Where the momentum of this big social movement, including
challenged themselves, comes from?
The answer is ''Pride''. One of the most important pleasures of working
is not financial independence, but to live proudly as a member of the
society. A society where the challenged, who have to overcome many barriers,
can live with pride is a society where all the people can live with pride.
To create such a society, everyone should endeavor as much as one can
and this endeavor itself can be also one's pride.
In this 6th forum, many examples using the advanced devices
and systems in USA and local communities in Japan were introduced,
clarifying the problems that we need to overcome. We also
learned that the latest IT development to support the challenged
is changing minutes by minutes. Now, just before the 21st
century, time has ripped for creating a new society where
the challenged can work regardless of their disabilities.
Here we would like to present our declaration for the 6th
USA-Japan Symposium on Challenged Japan Forum 2000.
(1)We will continue our efforts to create a new social
system where the challenged can work regardless of their
(2)By utilizing the result of this forum for more discussion at the
organization that we belong to such as private company, government,
research and educational institution, NPO, and local community, we
will propose and take action for improvement.
(3)We will analyze the new social system from both financial and mental
aspects to create a society where everyone can live with pride.
USA-Japan Symposium on 6th Challenged Japan Forum
the discussion following Cohen's lecture, discussants found
many of CAP's implements instructive. Chaired by Prof.
Ikuyo Kaneko, Keio Univ.
produced by Prop Virtual Studio was shown. Ikutoshi Yoshida,
Keiai, Ishida, Mitsuhiro Kaimoto from left.
Discussion following Leifer's lecture.
Shin Yasunobe at rightmost was a previous official at MITI
is Director at Stanford Japan Center now. Prof. Osamu Sudo,
Univ. of Tokyo chaired (leftmost).
Kazuo Seike, President of Research association
of the work of persons with severe disabilities, at discussion.
He insisted that seriously disabled people also need mental
support, and expected the Web's future possibilities.
Session 3 'Top executives should change
the situation now'
Chaired by Makoto Naruke, President,
Inspire Co., Ltd. Discussants were: Minako Nishijima, Deputy
Labor Legislation Division, Japan Federation of Employers'
Association; Osamu Sudo, Univ. of Tokyo; Shin'ichi Ata,
CEO, Microsoft Co., Ltd.; Masao Tejima, President,macromedia
Co., Ltd.; Shigeru Ikeda, President, NTT-ME Co., Ltd.;
Takafumi Kanamaru, President, Future System Consulting
Co., Ltd.; and Nami Takenaka, Representative, Prop
Station (from left).
Session 4 'Regional reports and prospects
on learning and working by the challenged'
(Left) Masao Okuno from and Yasuaki
Nakajima presented a network of schools for disabled students
in Osaka created collaboratively with Prop Station. The network
is expected to open new possibilities to the students and teachers.
(Center) Koji Nakauchi, Prop Station's engineer and wheelchair user, visited
every school for disabled students before creating the network. He pointed
that teachers should learn and recognize the use of IT in education.
(Right) Toru Tanii, himself is wheelchair user, began activity last year as
Pep-Com, a non-profit supported by Mie Prefecture to assist the challenged
to find employment.
He also established Integral Co., Ltd. with a support by Naruke's new company.
Kazushige Fujikawa at Mie Prefectural Government discussed the development
of information infrastructure in Mie.
Session 5 'Proposal by the challenged: Creation
of a new social system and policy prospects'
Chaired by Hiroshi Suzuki, Keio
Univ., panelists discussed their efforts for improving the
social system for the challenged. Discussants were: Ken Terawaki,
Manager, Minister's Secretariat, Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and
Yukiko Sakamoto, Councilor, Minister's Secretariat, Ministry of Labor; Akira
Tsujioka, Head, Consumer Policy Division, Ministry of Transport; and Hisakazu
Oishi, Manager, Road Bureau, Ministry of Construction.
Takeo Hiranuma, the Minister of
International Trade and Industry visited the symposium venue
the participants' cooperation for developing IT.
Session 6 'Proposal for creating new local
communities with the challenged'
Three governors participated in
the discussion (upper, from left): Shiro Asano, Governor of
Miyagi pointed several important items he learned at the symposium
and found applicable in Miyagi; Masayasu Kitagawa, Governor of Mie invited
to next CJF to be held in Mie; and Hiroya Masuda, Governor of Iwate expressed
his wish to utilize IT for development of rural districts. Two governors gave
video messages: Daijiro Hashimoto, Governor of Kochi (lower, right) pointed
that it is important to relate information to regional culture;
Governor of Shizuoka considers the way to cooperate with nonprofits who will
play a more important role in the future society.
Volunteer typists input the summary of lectures
and discussions, which were screened overhead for people
with hearing disabilities.
number of audience was over 450. A large screen over the
stage facilitated the participants in a distance to know
the expression and atmosphere of discussants. (provided
by Ginza Sakuraya)
Exhibition in the hall. Photographs of Prop
Station's activities and the works by Prop Virtual Studio
members delighted participants between sessions.
Key persons of CJF: Prof. Osamu Sudo, Univ.
of Tokyo, convenor of CJF; Prof. Keiko Kiyohara, Tokyo
Univ. of Technology, vice-convenor of CJF; Prof. Ikuyo
Kaneko, Keio Univ.; Nami Takenaka, representative of Prop
by a participant.
enjoys talking with foreign reporters.
Taro Shanghai, a performer from Yoshimoto
Kogyo amused participants.
Hanako Oshima, singing at the opening of
the party. She is a daughter of Kyu Sakamoto and hopes
to enjoy singing with the challenged.