Deaf Disability Hearing Impaired Japan

Junior High School Girl Sues Kitakyushu Welfare Agency for Misdiagnosing Hearing Loss as Intellectual Disability

A 13-year-old junior high school girl with a hearing impairment in Kitakyushu City was mistakenly diagnosed with intellectual disability in her childhood without undergoing proper examination at the Municipal General Rehabilitation Center, and it took about seven and a half years until she was actually found to be deaf.

By Barrier Free Japan with extracts from The Mainichi Shimbun

July 8 2021

KITAKYUSHU – A 13-year-old junior high school girl with a hearing impairment in Kitakyushu City was mistakenly diagnosed with intellectual disability in her childhood without undergoing proper examination at the Municipal General Rehabilitation Center, and it took about seven and a half years until she was actually found to be deaf. A lawsuit was filed with the Fukuoka District Court Kokura Branch for damages of about 20 million yen from the city welfare corporation that operates the center, saying that she could not receive appropriate treatment and education. The first oral argument was held on the 6th, and the center requested that the claim be dismissed.

According to the complaint, a female student who had been delayed in speaking since she was 2 years old was diagnosed with intellectual disability and developmental disability at the center in 2011 when she was 3 years old. However, when she was in the fifth grade of a special school for children with intellectual disabilities, her homeroom teacher pointed out that she could not hear because she was reading the movement of her lips. Examination revealed hearing loss. She found that she could hear some sounds but was unclear, and she couldn’t hear them as words as she had “auditory neuropathy.”

The plaintiffs allege that since she was misdiagnosed as having an intellectual disability, she could not undergo an appropriate hearing test at the center, and was deprived of the opportunity to acquire language and receive appropriate medical care at an important time to develop their growth.

The student is currently undergoing surgery to receive a cochlear implant and is now able to speak aloud and have simple conversations. She also appeared in the speech on the 6th and greeted the presiding judge, saying “Thank you in advance.”

The girl’s 39-year-old mother told the Mainichi Shimbun, “I complained numerous times that she could have a hearing impairment, but they did not allow her to be examined. I would like the center to admit their fault and take responsibility.”

The city welfare corporation commented in an interview that “the details of the specific allegations will be clarified at the trial.”

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