Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

A dedicated TV channel for the hearing impaired

In 1998 the Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities, a Japanese certified non-profit organization, launched a service to make emergency information more accessible to the hearing impaired. In 2017 they revised it to meet international standards. Internet Protocol Television set-top boxes add closed captioning and signing to TV content in real-time. The service is provided through a dedicated channel called Listening With Your Eyes, and based on its success the Japanese government is looking to expand the programme.

“The aim of this project is to deliver a service that allows for the full participation and equality of people with a hearing disability.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Listening With Your Eyes
Organisation:Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities
of Implementation


  • Ecuador and Mongolia are currently in talks with Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities to replicate the Listening With Your Eyes service.
  • Cost of the subscription is €4 euro a month.


It became apparent after the Great Kobe Earthquake in 1995 and other catastrophes that people with a hearing disability need accessible emergency information.


Broadcasting of the Listening with Your Eyes channel began in 2017 using a terminal set-top box, which is a hardware device connected to the Internet and built according to the international standards of the International Telecommunications Union (a specialized agency of the United Nations). The channel provides closed signing and captioning that can be delivered to televisions. The size and position of the captioning and sign on the display can be determined by the viewer using a remote control and receiver called an “Eye Dragon.” This is especially useful for sign language because the signer on the TV screen can be displayed outside the main programme image.

Listening With Your Eyes allows conventional programmes to provide closed captioning and sign displayed in text over the original content. It covers news programmes every Wednesday and Thursday and all emergency broadcasting related to major disasters. The Eye Dragon synthesizes TV programmes with sign and captioning, easing the burden of regular TV content providers to have additional hardware equipment for accessibility features. In 2018 there were some 10,000 viewers receiving the service.


Listening With Your Eyes is the first standard-based accessible broadcast service in Japan specifically for people with a hearing disability. The Japanese Government subsidizes 90 per cent of the purchase of the set-top box, and the total cost of the operation is covered by individual subscription at approximately €4 per month.

The service is being promoted nationally by the Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities and by the Japanese Federation for the Deaf. As a response to the project’s growth, the Japanese government set up a committee to discuss how to extend the service to more channels, including the national broadcaster. Because it is based on an international standard, manufacturers anywhere can produce the set-top box; and Ecuador and Mongolia are already in talks with the Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities to replicate Listening With Your Eyes.


Yuzo Oshima


Download factsheet as accessible word