Short post on disability and my school

As some of you may know, I’m currently attending language school in Japan. There is a student dorm, but most of the housing is apartments rented out to students. When I first got here, I was a bit surprised to see that there was no elevator, but outside of being annoyed that I couldn’t get my heavy stuff up the stairs easily, I didn’t think too much about it.

But something happened a little over a month ago: a guy who lives in my building got into a car accident and is now in a wheelchair. He was told that, due to fire regulations, he could no longer live in our apartment. You see, even the first floor apartments require going up one flight of stairs and in the event of a fire that just isn’t safe. These apartments, I would like to point out, were built just last year.

And then this caused me to realize that all of the kids in the school are able-bodied. Indeed, I have the sneaking suspicion that they would reject anyone who wasn’t because of “undue hassles” (they kicked out one student who was having frequent panic attacks, but wouldn’t/couldn’t take her to the hosptial because she didn’t have Japanese insurance). My building has an elevator and therefore should be accessible, but the building that’s used for the other program as well as private lessons not only has no elevator, but the easy access is a set of pretty dangerous outside stairs. It’s supposedly going under rennovation because of the influx of students, but I’d be surprised if they added an elevator.

On the one hand, I can sort of sympathize with the school: they are becoming increasingly popular and it’s been hard to deal with the influx of students because there isn’t enough space or teachers to accomodate everyone. I’ve also heard that, in terms of buildings, getting through the planning stages is ridiculously hard. But, on the other hand, I would be surprised if this was the first time a problem like this has occurred. My friend is not the first person who I’ve known has gotten into an accident during his stay at my school.

I just… I dunno. I like my school and sympathize with their plight, but at the same time I’m not altogether thrilled with the way they handle students who have specific health needs.

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5 Responses to Short post on disability and my school

  1. When I was in Japan, I got pretty sick. It got to the point where I had to go to the hospital. At first, I wasn’t sure if they were going to treat me because I didn’t have Japanese insurance, however the nicest woman in the world came to my aid, and I was able to get medical treatment. (In the end I was surprised, even without insurance the whole treatment turned out to be under US$100).

    It really sucks that that sudent wasn’t able to get medical treatment for the panic attacks. I guess my little anectdote is to say that I almost experienced the same thing.

    I, too, noticed some issues in the smaller town that I was in in regards to accessibility. When I went to the Human Rights Museum in Osaka, there was a whole section in regards to the activism being done for accessibility for people with disabilities. An uphill battle, but one that is being fought.

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  3. Bonnie says:

    I find it a little disterbing to hear about this. I hope the school had some advice for the injured student to find housing?

    When I was at Yamasa in 2001, I became very ill and asked them to take me to the Hospital ER. 2 staff from Student Services flew into action, grabbing a J->E dictionary and me, they jumped into a worker’s car and had me at the ER in 15 minutes. I had no money and I didn’t even know if I had insurance (was just a college kid back then; no clue). But they sat with me in the waiting room, explained everything to the doctor, and explained what was happening to me.

    Then when I got a prescription and sent on my way, the Yamasa staff (I can’t remember her name! :( ) gave me close to 25000 yen to pay the bill and buy the medicine!!! I was so grateful. Of course I paid her back the next day.

    But seriously, I am very sad if Yamasa has changed so much that students feel they don’t care anymore about the students. :(
    Say it ain’t so!

  4. tekanji says:

    I hope the school had some advice for the injured student to find housing?

    I don’t know what conversations went on between him and the school. The solution he found was to live with his girlfriend until he had recovered enough to get up and down the stairs in our residence.

    But seriously, I am very sad if Yamasa has changed so much that students feel they don’t care anymore about the students.

    I don’t know how I feel about the current situation here, really. For the most part people have been really nice and helpful to me. One of my teachers helped me apply to the gamer school I wanted to go to. She spent every Friday for a month doing mock interviews with me and otherwise walking me through the application process. And now that I got in, she’s been helping me with things such as getting my housing situation sorted out.

    But in addition to the stuff that I mentioned above, I’ve also found that my friends haven’t gotten the same kind of help that I have. Part of it, I recently discovered, is that — while the website says that Yamasa will help with job placement — the truth is that they had to stop doing that some years ago because of some kind of problem with immigration. But there is still a clear difference between my experience and that of my friends when they have asked their teachers for help.

    I don’t know why there’s a difference; I just know that there is one. :(

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