Mainstream TV station organizing a sign language academy for interpreters specializing in sports coverage
- OHK Sign Language Initiative
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“You and I enjoy the same racing experience now; open and accessible to all; and that is the truly important feature of Okayama broadcasting’s program” Dr Shamika N. Sirimanne, Director, Division on Technology and Logistics,United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Okayama Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (OHK), a TV and broadcasting company, initiated a specific sign language programme, further developing its existing sign language coverage. It teaches deaf interpreters in signing distinctive aspects of motor sports, such as gear shifts and acceleration, which before were not signed and communicated to the Japanese deaf population. The initiative is currently funded by the Toyota Mobility Foundation and is independently certified by the Japan Deaf Sports Federation. The initiative has special focus on the 2025 Deaflympics, which will be hosted in Tokyo.
Motor sport races are not covered properly with sign language on Japanese Television because sign language interpreters are not trained on the subject, and in many cases signs are not available or defined to convey the full racing experience.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Okayama Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (OHK), a medium-sized Japanese broadcasting company, has aired a special TV programme with sign language interpretation for 30 years, employing a production team of deaf people and sign language interpreters. As a new initiative, in 2022 OHK launched a specific sign language initiative specifically aimed at training deaf interpreters to convey the dynamics of motor sports to deaf audiences in Japan. In the first phase, an interpreter translates a reporter’s voice into sign language. In the second phase, the trained deaf interpreter watches this interpreter and the race at the same time and provides sign language commentary together with much more comprehensible expressions simultaneously. Since its beginnings in 2023 the process had expanded to include projects in collaboration with other partners and sponsors. In addition, the deaf interpreter teaches the know-how of motor sport commentary to other interpreters. Consequently, the number of participants from all over the country has been increasing. OHK has created a new department called Accessibility Team to improve the accessibility of information even further, aiming to create a world without barriers. OHK is creating a textbook for teaching skills such as expression methods, additional signs, and the use of necessary equipment, which will be the basis of an academy where deaf people from all over the country are trained in sign language commentary for various sports coverage.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
In 2023 the academy and initiative were funded by the Toyota Mobility Foundation. OHK aims to receive production fees from sponsors that support the sign language commentary so as to make this initiative sustainable. The cost is mainly for the salary of the sign language interpreters, who are better paid than the commentators who can hear because their sign language commentary is considered a highly specialized skill. (Awardee 2024)