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OKI and AAJD Release Free SOS Placard Support Tool in 15 Languages for Use in Emergencies by the Hearing Impaired


Supports emergency communication for foreigners and the hearing impaired in 15 languages and icons

TOKYO -- OKI (OKI Electric Industry) and AAJD (Architectural Association of Japanese DEAF) (*1) have created SOS Placards that allow the hearing impaired or foreigners who do not speak Japanese to point to illustrations on a placard to indicate their status in the event of emergencies, including natural disasters and sudden illness. The placards will be available on AAJD’s homepage ( in 15 languages by the end of July.

The hearing impaired, those with speech difficulties, and foreigners who do not speak Japanese communicate with the physically unimpaired through interpreters or through written messages. However, writing can be impractical for real-time communications, and interpreters may be absent in the event of disasters and sudden illness.

In 2007, OKI and AAJD have created SOS Placards cards in Japanese and English that allow the hearing impaired and foreigners who do not speak Japanese to point to illustrations on placards to communicate their status in emergency situations, including natural disasters and sudden illness. The placards have been used at more than 30 locations in Japan, including fire-fighting head offices, hospitals and schools. To make the placards available to more foreigners, AAJD have made placards in 15 languages, free of charge, which will be downloadable on the AAJD homepage ( at the end of July. The project resulting in the SOS Placards is supported by the OKI 100 Yen Fund of Love, in which OKI Group officers and employees take part.

Designed for use in emergencies, the SOS Placards use not just letters, but icons and pictograms,(*2) based on OKI’s universal design know-how and expertise. The icons and pictograms were designed by OKI Workwel, an OKI Group company that specializes in the home employment of the physically challenged. Anticipating use of the placards in face-to-face communications with emergency life guards, the cards also feature Japanese script readable from the opposite side. Users can prepare for emergencies by downloading image files to their mobile phones and smartphones from the AAID homepage.

In an experiment involving actual use of the SOS Placards, an individual with hearing disabilities was able to communicate 20% faster and 20% more accurately using the cards. Users surveyed also indicated they felt more confident when carrying the cards.

Prior to releasing the placards on the homepage, AAJD has created a free, A5 size leaflet, “SOS Handbook”, which is distributed at approximately 200 locations throughout Japan at hospitals and fire stations. AAJD is planning to send the leaflet to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Moving forward, OKI and AAJD will continue to collaborate to promote various other social contribution activities.
About SOS Placard

Distribution: From the AAJD homepage
Languages (15 languages): Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), Portuguese, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Finish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Russian


*1 :Architectural Association of Japanese DEAF (AAJD)

Founded in 1997 by integrating Tokyo Architectural Club of DEAF and Kinki Architectural Club for DEAF. Members aim to enhance welfare of the hearing impaired who work in construction and civil engineering related work.
*2 :Pictogram

Also called pictorial symbols or pictographic subjects, these symbols are used to display information and to attract attention. In this particular context, they are identical to icons and use simple pictures and diagrams to represent meaning.

About OKI Electric Industry (OKI)

Founded in 1881, OKI Electric Industry is Japan’s leading telecommunications manufacturer. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, OKI provides top-quality products, technologies, and solutions to customers through its info-telecom systems and printer operations. Its various business divisions function synergistically to bring to market exciting new products and technologies that meet a wide range of customer needs in various sectors. Visit OKI’s global website at

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