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Satoshi Fukushima

Associate Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo : Japan

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I lost my vision at age nine, my hearing at eighteen and became totally deafblind. That was twenty-five years ago, at the beginning of 1981. In other words,I have known “a world with lights and sounds” and “a world with only the sounds” and now I am living in “a world without light or sound”. In looking back at my forty-three years of my life there are many memories come to mind.

I have seen the moon. It was a full moon. It was one summer night and I saw the disc emanating golden brilliance was exceptionally bright. Was that nebulous shadow “the rabbit”? I was looking at it at the foot of a small mountain near my parents’ home in the outskirts of the City of Kobe. Deep darkness surrounded me. I heard the chirping of insects.
I have heard the glittering sounds. That was when I was a middle school student, listening for the first time to a record of Simon & Garfunkel played on a full-fledged stereo player. Those plaintively splendid melodies of Scarborough the harmony between the heartrending sorrowful voice and the high sounds of harpsichord, I felt certain I saw that silvery brilliance.
The “sound” comes with color and brilliance. It flows constantly with “time”. If “light” were a sense tied to a momentary recognition, “sound” may be a sense that lives together with living feelings.
I have come across beautiful words. When I became deafblind and returned to my classmates with a broken heart, a friend took my hand and wrote in kana on my palm. “Thoughts are for you, my friend.”
In seeing the grim fate I faced, he showed me in a most casual way what I had left in me, something that came to me with a new meaning, in other words a world of “words and thought”.

Through my peculiar, and in a sense an extreme personal experience, I want to give my thoughts to the universal challenge of how we should relate to others and to find the meaning of our lives.
I believe it is on the extension of such thoughts that the prospects for “universal design” and creating a “universal society” are found.

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