Understanding disability

SoftBank Corp. offers a special “Heart Friend Discount” which provides customers with disabilities with a discount on basic usage fees and other benefits, enabling them to use services with peace of mind. We also provide other services that cater for people with various disabilities, including a help desk where customers can communicate through sign language.

Providing a comfortable working environment for people with disabilities

Reduced working hours program

We have partnered with the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology in the area of assistive technology to introduce a reduced working hours program that allows people who have difficulty working for long hours due to a disability to work up to 20 hours a week. This new employment program is aimed at people who are willing to work but who have lacked opportunities because they are unable to work the 20 hours a week minimum required for inclusion in the statutory employment rate for people with disabilities.

Facilitating use by a wide range of customers

We provide a special “Heart Friend Discount” which provides customers with disabilities with a discount on basic usage fees and other benefits in order to encourage the wide-ranging use of SoftBank mobile phones by people with disabilities as a tool to help them to communicate more fully and participate in society. By combining this Heart Friend Discount with our normal payment plans, they can use services at lower prices than usual.

Offering easy-to-use services

Assist Smartphone

The Assist Smartphone service was started by SoftBank to help people with special needs participate in society. The service can be used by downloading special software onto the Simple Smartphone SoftBank 204SH (manufactured by Sharp Corporation) and then switching the phone to “Assist Smartphone” mode. As a service for helping people with cognitive and other disabilities to communicate and engage in daily activities, Assist Smartphone has been selected by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for a fiscal 2013 ministry program aimed at the development and promotion of self-sufficiency support devices for people with special needs.

Through a special website that allows guardians and helpers to configure device settings and provide back-end support, the service makes it possible to check the user's location and change the home screen, select which apps may be used, create email templates, and set destinations for walking navigation based on the user's level of proficiency.

Barrier-free communication for all

SoftBank has a number of initiatives grounded on the principle of fostering a kinder society where there is no communication gap between the hearing impaired and the people they interact with.

Game de Manaberu Shuwa Jiten: a sign language app

A Sign Language Dictionary You Can Play as a Game

Originating from a wish to foster a social environment that enables barrier-free communication for all, SoftBank offers a sign language app called Game de Asoberu Shuwa Jiten (meaning “A Sign Language Dictionary You Can Play as a Game”). The app encompasses approximately 3,000 signs which can be viewed from 360 degrees in 3D animations* that are based on actual captured gestures.

The app was developed to promote greater interest in sign language not just for regular users, but also for people who often come into contact with the hearing impaired, such as school teachers and hospitality workers. Through this we aim to help raise people's level of interest in sign language.

This application became the first sign language app to be recommended by the Tokyo Federation of Deaf. In addition, it received the Silver Award at the IAUD Awards 2014 sponsored by the International Association for Universal Design.

  1. *
    A special camera is used to capture the actual movements of a person, and this motion data is applied to 3D characters.

Sign language counter and video support system

Sign Language Support Service

SoftBank Shibuya features a Sign Language Counter where customers with hearing impairments can inquire about mobile handsets and easily handle contract procedures. Sign-language-proficient staff are stationed at the counter and provide guidance on anything from handset choice and operation, to price plans and subscription sign up procedures. Written material is also available for customers who do not use sign language. In December 2010, our Sign Language Support service was launched, providing a video conference system to connect the Sign Language Counter to a further 11 SoftBank stores.

Koe-Tora, an app that supports people with hearing disabilities

Koe-Tora, an app that supports people with hearing disabilities

In order to support people with disabilities to communicate more fully and play a larger role in society, we are aiding the development of Koe-Tora, an app that supports people with hearing disabilities provided by FEAT Limited.

Koe-Tora can play text inputted by people with hearing disabilities out loud as speech and display the speech produced by their conversation partner as text, enabling smooth communication support using only a smart phone or similar device.

Enabling the inclusion of people with visual impairments

For people with disabilities that teaches them how to use the iPhone

SoftBank offers an app for people with disabilities that teaches them how to use the iPhone. Utilizing the iPhone's “VoiceOver” accessibility function, the app reads out items displayed on-screen, making it possible for users to study and practice basic iPhone operations.Until users get a feel for operating the iPhone and feel comfortable, the app supports and accompanies finger operations and gestures.

Lessons are offered on the basics, such as the touch panel range and home button position, Using VoiceOver, users can practice basic gestures, making and receiving calls, and text entry can be practiced. The app makes it possible to advance while listening to easy-to-understand narration.

Offering everyone the discovery of town walks and tourism

Furatto An-nai (Tourist Guide)

SoftBank added a service that provides information about barrier-free tourism to the Furatto An-nai (Tourist Guide) application, using GPS positioning data to prompt it to provide local sightseeing information. Our goal is to help individuals with special needs maximize their sightseeing experience. As a first step, with the cooperation of the NPO Japan Barrier-Free Tourism Promotion Organization, we launched a service called Barrier-free Tourism in Iseshima, Mie Prefecture. In the future, we plan to expand the coverage area of the Furatto An-nai (Tourist Guide)*4 application and offer barrier-free tourism information for more and more locations.

  1. *4
    Furatto An-nai (Tourist Guide) is a free app that provides barrier-free service information for tourists. Downloading the application may incur separate communication charges.

Special Olympics sponsor

The Activities of Special Olympics Nippon

Special Olympics is a global sports organization that offers a variety of year-round training opportunities and competitions for people with intellectual disabilities. As a nonprofit organization, Special Olympics is run by volunteers and sustained by charitable donations.

SoftBank has sponsored the activities of Special Olympics Nippon since the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Nagano.

As a sponsor, we provided personal handy-phone system (PHS) technology for use during Special Olympics events. The low electromagnetic wave technology of PHS was well-received as a safe and effective method of communication, and was utilized both by event staff and for emergency communications with on-the-ground physicians to respond to athlete illness and injury.