[CAO] Enactment of Legislation Promoting Information Accessibility and Communication Measures for Persons with Disabilities.

On May 19, 2022, the legislation promoting measures pertaining to access and use of Information, as well as communication by persons with disabilities (commonly known as the “Act to Promote Information Accessibility and Communication Measures for Persons with Disabilities”) was unanimously approved and enacted by the plenary session of the House of Representatives.

The legislation had been studied by the multi-partisan Diet Members Caucus for the Promotion of Information and Communication for Adults and Children with Disabilities and was submitted to the House of Councilors on April 12, 2022 by the Chairman of the Health, Labour and Welfare Committee as a legislator-initiated bill.

Previously, in June 2019, the former Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the former Democratic Party of the People, the Social Democratic Party, and the Communist Party submitted a bill on the promotion of ensuring accessible means of communication for the visually impaired, and others (commonly known as the “Information and Communication Bill”), which was carried over to the following Diet session but had not actually been discussed. This time, however, the legislation was enacted as a multi-partisan proposal.

The Act consists of 16 articles, and the purpose is stated in Article 1 as follows:

The purpose of this Act is to comprehensively promote measures pertaining to access and use of information, as well as access to communication by persons with disabilities, thereby contributing to the realization of a society in which all citizens can live together with mutual respect for each other's personality and individuality, without being divided by the existence of disabilities. In light of the fact that it is imperative for all persons with disabilities to be able to fully access and use the information they need and to communicate smoothly to participate in social, economic, cultural, and other activities in all fields as constituent members of society, this Act provides the measures for these basic principles. In addition, the Act clarifies the responsibilities of the national government, local governments, and so forth, and also establishes the basic principles behind these measures.

The main contents are as follows:

  • Definition of Persons with Disabilities (Article 2)
    Persons with disabilities as defined in the “Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities”
  • Basic principles in the promotion of measures (Article 3)
    1. Persons with disabilities shall be able to choose the means of access to information in accordance with the type and degree of their disabilities.
    2. Persons with disabilities shall be able to access and use information equally regardless of the area they live in.
    3. Persons with disabilities shall be able to obtain the same information at the same time as that obtained by persons without disabilities.
    4. Persons with disabilities shall be able to utilize advanced information and telecommunications networks, as well as technologies in the digital society.
  • Responsibilities of relevant parties (Articles 4-8)
    • Responsibilities of the national and local governments (Article 4)
    • Responsibilities of business operators (Article 5)
    • Responsibilities of citizens (Article 6)
    • Mutual coordination and cooperation among relevant parties (Article 7)
    • Respect for the opinions of persons with disabilities (Article 8)
  • Basic measures (Article 11-16)

 (1) Equipment and such that contribute to information access by persons with disabilities (Article 11)

  • Subsidies for development and provision of information equipment, standardization of standards, provision of information to persons with disabilities, etc., and supporting them to gain access
  • Using information equipment, in-home support, implementation of workshops, and consultation
  • Cooperation and collaboration among relevant parties concerning information equipment, etc.

 (2) Disaster preparedness and crime prevention, as well as emergency reporting (Article 12)

  • Establishment of a system, installation of facilities, equipment, etc., to enable prompt and reliable information access.
  • Enabling persons with disabilities to make emergency calls quickly and surely through smooth communication.

 (3) Measures pertaining to matters necessary for persons with disabilities to live daily life independently in society (Article 13)

  • Securing, training, and improving the quality of support for communication
  • Support for efforts by public institutions and other business operators, etc.

 (4) Consultation with persons with disabilities and information provided to them.(Article 14)

  • Consideration should be given when providing consultation services
  • Consideration should be given when providing information according to the type and degree of disability.

 (5) Promotion of public interest and understanding (Article 15)

Enhancement of public relations and awareness-raising activities on the importance of information access by persons with disabilities and others.

 (6) Promotion of surveys and research (Article 16)

Promotion of surveys and research on information access and such by persons with disabilities and dissemination of the results

The Act is further accompanied by the following supplementary resolution:

The Government of Japan should take appropriate measures on the following matters in the implementation of this Act.

  1. Consideration should be given to a system that prioritizes the procurement of information and communication equipment and other devices developed to ensure sufficient access and use of information, including smooth communication by persons with disabilities and services that utilize information and communication technology.
  2. To promote information and communication accessibility, take such necessary measures as reviewing laws based on what has been achieved in the “Basic Plan for Persons with Disabilities”.
  3. Consider establishing a consultation service for information and communication accessibility.
  4. Necessary consideration, including financial measures, should be given to further promote information and communication accessibility, such as accessible documents submitted to administrative bodies, guaranteeing information accessibility for persons with disabilities in times of disaster, improved information accessibility during elections, and accessibility for various examinations, including qualification examinations.
  5. Consider further enhancement of measures on sign languages, including the enactment of a Sign Language Act, in view of the fact that all 47 prefectures and 1,741 municipalities have submitted written opinions to the Government requesting measures on sign languages similar to the recent enactment of the information accessibility legislation.

This Act was promulgated and enacted as Law No. 50 on May 25, 2022.

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