Japan DAISY Consortium Working to Ensure Earthquake Survivors with Print Disabilties Can Access Life-Saving Information

April 1, 2011

From: Hiroshi Kawamura <hkawa@attglobal.net>
To: DAISY all members <members@daisy.org>; pwd@wsis-cs.org
Cc: ?????? <atdo-staff@atdo.jp>
Sent: Wed, March 30, 2011 11:27:40 PM
Subject: [Pwd] Situation in Japan as of 11:00 am March 31 by Hiroshi Kawamura

Dear all:

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your continuing support and encouragement.

In particular, I would like to thank the call for support initiated by Stephen King, RNIB, and the DAISY Consortium for dissemination of accessible survival information in DAISY format for persons with print disabilities and wider community at risk. http://www.daisy.org/daisy-news#newsitem916

Our emergency rescue work in 440 square kilometers earthquake-tsunami hit zone still continues. More than 170,000 people are living in 2,000 shelters there. Many evacuees are welcomed by hosts across the country.

The death toll exceeds 11,000. Reported missing people is over 17,000. We are afraid of more missing people because if the entire family is lost there is no report of missing.

A national TV network, NHK, tries to capture voices and activities of those people in shelters as much as possible. Some of the programs report good practices in the hit zone such as a community group in Kesennuma who are sharing tasks of their shelter by “one task per person” with nice smiles even though they are sharing living space less than 2 square meters per person. We are sharing some hope encouraged by numerous good practices of people who lost everything but their human spirit.

Delayed graduation ceremonies are held by schools even in hit zone where the whole school is used as a shelter. NHK again broadcasted a moving ceremony for 6 elementary school graduates supported and celebrated by all evacuees who gave their living space in the auditorium to the ceremony. A graduate who lost her home and living in the school made an excellent piano performance and mentioned “I played piano to respond their kindness. I would like to become a kind junior high-school student.”

There is no rescue operation in 30 km exclusion zone of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant even though that is one of the most severely hit area by the earthquake and the tsunami. A news program reported an old lady who refused to evacuate from home to a shelter because she is taking care of her husband who cannot move around. There has been no life-lines in her area because of the quake and tsunami. Her area is also declared as highly dangerous due to radiation. No following up report is available. This illustrates the situation of people who are staying their own home because of various reasons including physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual and psycho-social disabilities. Asahi.com news reports the story of Toyo Gakuen, an institution for 200 children with intellectual disability and other disabilities, which is directed to move out of the exclusion zone, had difficulties to share with other evacuees. The Toyo Gakuen moved to a small independent facility now but children, teachers and volunteers are under extremely difficult situation. http://bit.ly/dUU8sb

The Ministry of Education announced that 670,000 textbooks are lost by Tsunami. The new academic year in Japan starts tomorrow, 1st of April.

Libraries and publishers share a general agreement on transfer of digital copy of copyrighted materials to help disaster victims without permission.

The Japan DAISY Consortium is going to establish a portal for DAISY contents distribution for disaster victims at large, not just for victims with print disabilities because we have a large number of foreign citizens who cannot read written Japanese due to complexity of Chinese characters in Japanese text. We are looking for PCs and projectors to be donated to ad-hoc classrooms in hit zone.

At Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, the 4 monster reactors are still not under control. Good news is the re-installation of electricity for each control room. Bad news is discovery of heavily contaminated water inside and outside of No.2 Reactor which from time to time exceeds its planned maximum surface temperature 302 Celsius. Supply of water is the only way to prevent “core meltdown” at the moment. However, provision of water increases the leak of deadly contaminated water from radiation control zone to the environment. Other reactors are not so bad as No.2 but are still in hi-risk situation. We expect tightrope walking situation will last many more months to achieve the best scenario ? cool down of all 6 reactors in the plant.

International Community strongly supports the work of our government.

Radio active substances are found outside of the nuclear control facilities. 30 km is exclusion area where radiation exceeds safety limit.

Even outside of the exclusion area, depending on wind and rain, many distance areas received radio active substance that exceeds safety limit for long-term effect. Children and those pregnant are warned sometimes not to take drinking water in those area. For several days, there was a warning for drinking water in major part of Tokyo. Today it is announce our drinking water in Tokyo is safe.

We are determined that the battle to control monstrous nuclear reactors should continue for many months with the highest concentration to protect our lives and global environment. At the same time we will give best care for disaster victims and reconstruct the community in the hit zone.

Provision of accurate and easy-to-understand information in timely manner is crucial for critical decision making for everybody. The provision of information need to be in an accessible format for each individual including people with print disabilities, speakers of native language other than Japanese, and those who have difficulties to concentrate on reading in this situation. DAISY and EPUB3, which will be coming soon, should take extremely important role for dissemination of knowledge for survival and well being under the threat of radiation crisis in Japan. Further report on establishment of the DAISY survival information portal will follow early next week.


Hiroshi in Tokyo


Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium


e-mail: hkawa@atdo.jp

twitter: hkawa33