DO-IT Japan

Takeo Kondo, Director of DO-IT Japan
DO-IT Japan logo

DO-IT Japan will celebrate its 16th Summer Study in August 2022, after starting the project in 2007, modeled after DO-IT at the University of Washington. Each year, up to 10 scholars are selected and welcomed from all over Japan, with a total of 130 Scholars currently a part of the DO-IT Japan community. Sixty Scholars have physical disabilities, 38 have autism, 26 have learning disabilities, 15 have visual impairments, 11 have attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, 9 have health-related disabilities, 7 are hard-of-hearing, 4 have a mental illness, 4 have cognitive disabilities, 2 have intellectual disabilities, and 5 fit into other categories; some Scholars fit into multiple categories. In addition, approximately 3,600 students and parents currently participate in our Outreach Program, in which DO-IT Japan delivers information to enrollees on the use of technology and other topics and conducts seminars several times a year.

Scholars are primarily high school students; in the beginning, DO-IT Japan welcomed only high school students as Scholars. However, since Japan did not have anti-discrimination laws at that time, students with disabilities had difficulties overcoming social barriers in the regular high school admissions process without reasonable accommodations. We wanted to be able to provide opportunities for students to participate in our program at an earlier age and learn to use technology in ways that fit their characteristics and learning styles, as well as support and advocate for their transition to middle school and high school. Therefore, we are currently providing a program that allows students from third grade to participate in some of the Summer Study programs as special auditing students, and we now welcome some middle school students to participate fully in our program.

Subsequently, with the enactment of the anti-discrimination law in Japan in 2016, inclusion in schools has gradually improved. Inclusion in the public elementary school and university education system has improved a lot. However, inclusion in most junior high schools, high schools, and private schools still has a long way to go. In 2024, the anti-discrimination law will be revised, making it mandatory for private schools to provide reasonable accommodation. After that, we expect to see another big positive change.

The DO-IT Japan community has matured over the past 15 years. Senior Scholars who have grown up are supporting junior Scholars and participating in the management of the DO-IT Japan office. I was a visiting scholar at the DO-IT Center in Seattle from 2010 to 2011. During that time, I saw older Scholars working as staff and mentors. I had hoped that someday DO-IT Japan would do the same, and now, in fact, DO-IT Japan’s activities are supported by young people with disabilities, which makes me very happy.

The 2020 and 2021 Summer Studies were conducted entirely online for COVID-19. DO-IT’s Summer Studies allow students who are often isolated when they are in local schools around the country to meet their peers with disabilities and to experience college campuses and the new learning and values that are available there. While the online experience is valuable, this year’s Summer Study will offer a limited, but exciting, opportunity to meet in person. We look forward to feeling the impact of these encounters again. We also look forward to a future where DO-IT USA and DO-IT Japan Scholars will be able to meet, transcending the national differences between Japan and the US.