Q. How are you using Comuoon?
We have two Comuoon units in our school and we often use them in the face-to-face format, regardless of the subject of the class. Our school consists of four sections: Senior High School, Middle School, Elementary School, and Kindergarten. Comuoon is being used in each class by rotating it mainly among the Senior High School, Middle School and Elementary School sections. It cannot be used in some classes due to rotation timing, and some students get disappointed at such times. That is how much Comuoon is treasured by the students. It was first introduced in March last year. Mr. Nakaishi donated one unit to our school as part of the "Ashinaga-san for Hearing" project. Then, a budget was allocated for our school by Saga Prefecture as support funding for special needs education, so we used that to purchase a second unit.
Q. What has changed by introducing Comuoon?
The students have become more actively involved in classes. I think they have discovered the joy of learning. Needless to say, one of the attractions of Comuoon is that it makes sounds easy to hear. But, it can also be used for practicing pronunciation. Students with impaired hearing are not very good at speaking. That is because they have difficulty hearing their own voices. Therefore, in our school, we enable students to hear their own voices by turning the Comuoon microphone and speaker toward them. The important thing is how their own voices sound. Another attraction of Comuoon is that students can listen to the teachers' voices while taking notes. With sign language, communication stops the moment one looks away. While many students in our school have mastered sign language, those who have been transferred from general schools are not very adept at it. Helping those students with their studies only by using sign language has limitations. While sign language will undoubtedly continue to be an effective means, nuances of words are hard to convey. In that sense, Comuoon is a very important communication tool.
Q. What are your thoughts on hearing impairment issues in a Japanese society context?
Since hearing disability is not visible, it is not currently well understood by the general public. However, humans usually capture a lot of information through their ears. For example, if you leave the TV on, even if you are not watching the screen, you will still naturally hear the audio information. That functionality is blocked for hearing-impaired people, so, even if they try to actively capture information, there are inevitable limitations. For this reason, it is important that we hearing persons make an effort by putting ourselves in the positions of hearing-impaired persons. I think Comuoon serves as a bridge for that. As I said earlier, many hearing-impaired persons have mastered sign language but, how about hearing persons? Even if they cannot use sign language, I do expect them to have a minimal appreciation of disability. More specifically, it would be preferable if everyone were ready to communicate in some way when a hearing-impaired person turns to them. Each individual can use his or her approach, whether it be sign language, writing, or Comuoon. Fortunately, I think the distances between hearing persons and hearing-impaired persons will become much shorter in the future, thanks to the appearance of revolutionary products such as Comuoon.
Q. Please tell us about your future goals.
I was appointed to serve at this school this spring. It was the first time I had taught in the environment of a school for hearing-impaired students. I am ashamed to say that I had no idea communicating with hearing-impaired students would be so hard. Watching students who are trying to do their best despite their hearing impairment, I feel a strong desire to "be able to communicate with these children" and to "make myself more useful". Right now, I am engaged in studying sign language. I will continue to work intensively toward having a deeper level of communication with the students. Product Used for the Case