Report: Multilingual Communication with Signers and Non-Signers / Webinar with Christine Sun Kim

Webinar Participants

Title: Multilingual Communication with Signers and Non-Signers / Webinar with Christine Sun Kim
Date & Time: March 27th, 2023 (Monday) 18:00-20:00 JST
Format: Zoom Webinar (Pre-registration required)

  • Christine Sun Kim
  • Joichi Ito
  • American Sign Language: Beth Staehle
  • Japanese Sign Language: Midori Niki, Yasunobu Yamada
  • English/Japanese Simultaneous translation: Miho Tatsumi, Fumi Hirai

Organised by: Center for Radical Transformation at Chiba Institute Technology
Powered by: HENKAKU Discord Community, Neurodiversity Salon

Webinar Overview

Joichi Ito, Director of the Center for Radical Transformation, had a conversation with Christine Sun Kim, a sound artist who uses sign language to express herself. They talked about various topics such as accessibility, creativity, neurodiversity, and more. Kim shared her presentation and exchanged views with Ito on the perspective and culture of signers, the difficulties of communicating with non-signers, the social factors that create inequality, the importance of supporting cognitive diversity in society, and some examples of how technology can help meet different needs. They had a rich and deep discussion from different angles.

As part of the webinar’s theme of “accessibility”, they also tried an experiment using existing technology and tools to provide live interpretation in American Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, and Japanese-English voice. This allowed a diverse audience to join the webinar and interact with each other using the chat function. They also engaged with the speakers and enhanced their communication.

The speakers and interpreters for the webinar joined from Japan, Britain and America. The audience also came from various countries such as Korea, Hong Kong, America, Canada, Britain, Germany and Australia. Even though it was a weekday evening, it was a lively and enthusiastic lecture that crossed time zones and borders. The participants gave positive feedback and comments.


The idea for this webinar came from a conversation in the “Neurodiversity” channel of the HENKAKU Discord community, which was founded by Joichi Ito.

The “Neurodiversity” channel is a place where people who are interested in neurodiversity (the diversity of the brain) join. This includes people with developmental disorders, their families, and educators. They discuss social issues such as how people with disabilities relate to society and how they can develop their careers as they grow. One of the inspiring examples that the community looks up to is Kim, an American sound artist who has been featured in the community.

Kim is deaf, but she does not let that stop her from being a successful sound artist. Ito is a friend of Kim’s and he invited her to join the webinar. With the help of Chiba Institute of Technology, the webinar was made possible.

The Neurodiversity Salon operations team and HENKAKU Discord community members also volunteered and helped with promoting and advertising this webinar.


▼ 18:00-18:15 Opening
Webinar introduction by Joichi Ito.

▼ 18:15-18:45 Presentation by Christine Sun Kim
Kim showed slides to describe her works in detail. She explained how people who cannot hear understand, feel, and express sound. Kim’s works explore deep themes, such as the variety and possibility of sound expression, the viewpoint of the deaf community in modern society, the awareness of relationships in communication, and how sign language translates human senses and emotions, among others. Her works are personal and emotional art, social and human rights commentary, and identity inquiry.

▼ 18:45-19:30 Discussion and Q&A
Ito and Kim discussed the nuances and politics of sign language, the current status and relationship with technology in the deaf community. They covered a wide range of topics, from art and NFTs to communication challenges during the pandemic, autism, parenting, and education. They also addressed the issues of cochlear implants and the decline of the deaf community in the United States. They expressed hope that the advancement of sign language and technology would enable deaf people to excel in more fields and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive society. They explored the possibility of collaboration among people with different disabilities and the role of technology in making education accessible to everyone. They agreed that accepting diversity, engaging with different cultures and communities, and learning about different customs, systems, and sensitivities are important. Kim answered various questions from the participants with great care and interest.

▼ 19:50-20:00 Closing
Ito spoke about the importance of intention and structure in creating inclusive communities regardless of disability, and expressed hope for future collaborations between Japan and the West. He also praised the contributions of the five interpreters involved in this webinar and proposed the continuation of similar webinars to improve accessibility in the future.

Webinar Outcomes

Number of Pre-Registrants: 129
Total number of viewers: 109 (Unique viewers: 82, Maximum concurrent viewers: 63)

  • Despite being held under conditions that are generally considered to have the lowest participation rate, such as "weekday Monday" and "evening commute time," the participation rate was very high.
  • There were participants not only from Japan, but also from South Korea, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia.
Feedback from participants
  • I found it interesting to hear about communication between signers and non-signers.
  • Ms. Kim’s work and ideas were insightful and inspiring.
  • I appreciate that we were able to openly discuss the challenges and issues that signers face on a daily basis but are often not understood by others.
  • Director Ito’s questions and comments were clear and informative, and added depth to the discussion.
  • The quality of simultaneous interpretation and sign language interpretation was high, making the webinar run smoothly in multiple languages.
  • I would like to keep learning about accessibility and neurodiversity in the future.


This webinar offered valuable insights into the importance of multilingual communication and social issues. The Center for Radical Transformation aims to continue to raise social awareness and understanding of multilingual communication through webinars and other similar initiatives. Furthermore, it hopes to use the findings from this webinar in academic research and education.