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FY 2012 Stakeholder Dialogue (Universal Design)

Lunch meeting with guest experts on universal design (UD)

The Fujitsu Group is not only developing and offering products and services that are easy to use by all and enable participation in society by more people, but is also devising work styles that enable a variety of people to work within the company.

On October 5, the Universal Design and IT Usage Seminar was held at Fujitsu Trusted Cloud Square. Fujitsu took this opportunity to welcome Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler (founder of the DO-IT Center, University of Washington) and Professor Kenryu Nakamura of The University of Tokyo, the co-host of the seminar, for a lunch meeting with the company's top management on the theme of UD. An overview of the dialogue follows.

Participants:

Experts
Sheryl Burgstahler, Professor, University of Washington
Kenryu Nakamura, Director, DO-IT Japan; Professor, The University of Tokyo

Fujitsu
Noriko Shiono, Vice President, Diversity Promotion Office
Ken Toyoda, Director, Recruiting Center
Kazuhisa Terashi, Head of Ubiquitous Services Business Unit
Kimitaka Kato, SVP, Marketing Transformation Project Office
Yoshihiro Ueda, President, Fujitsu Design Limited
Sogo Fujisaki, Director, CSR Department (meeting MC)

* The positions and titles of participants are as of the time of the dialogue.

Fujisaki: First, I would like to thank you all for coming today. On the topics of UD and ICT, I think there are two issues at work: empowerment*1 and communication. Empowerment can also be seen as two items, with the first involves individuals taking action in society thanks to empowerment by products and services. The other involves a greater number of people taking action thanks to the empowerment of employees. With regard to communication, it is important for people with disabilities and companies to advocate their respective situations and to strengthen their mutual communication. Along those two lines, I would like to hear any advice or expectations you have for companies.

*1 Empowerment: The act of expanding persons' on-site discretionary power and promoting their autonomous decision-making while supporting their actions. Empowerment allows people to display their latent talents and improve their individual capabilities.

Sogo Fujisaki, Director, CSR Department
Sogo Fujisaki, Director, CSR Department

Terashi: At Fujitsu, we not only develop devices such as PCs and smartphones but also embed sensors in these and provide services that tie data to cloud services. On the topic of product development empowerment, we're working to widen the scope of our business by widening our thinking to encompass devices that grant users the ability to do what they want. From the standpoint of a manufacturer, we're currently supporting the Wish Project, which uses ICT to offer children in a high school for physically disabled students and children with learning disabilities in Kagawa Prefecture the ability to do what they want. Although different people face different situations and circumstances, we hope to provide what support we can through ICT to help them live lifestyles with joy.

Kazuhisa Terashi, Head of  Ubiquitous Services Business Unit
Kazuhisa Terashi, Head of Ubiquitous Services Business Unit

Prof. Burgstahler: It's a good thing to set regular opportunities to communicate with users with disabilities. In particular, companies developing products should gather the opinions of users themselves before shipping to the market, as Microsoft does. The matter of how to incorporate the opinions of people with disabilities into critical points of product development is an important one.

Sheryl Burgstahler, Professor, University of Washington
Sheryl Burgstahler, Professor, University of Washington

Ueda: In my own talk earlier, I said that UD will shift from the creation of products, architecture, and services that anyone can use to the provision of services using interfaces optimized for each individual. Taking in what Prof. Burgstahler said, I believe it's more fitting to use the term "add to" instead of "shift from." Looking at our UD activities from here out, I think we need to move ahead with both design of ICT products that anyone can easily use, and design activities that aim to provide services through user interfaces optimized for each individual.

Yoshihiro Ueda, President, Fujitsu Design Limited
Yoshihiro Ueda, President, Fujitsu Design Limited

Kato: From this fiscal year, Fujitsu has moved the designing department's brand and UD team to the marketing department within the corporate headquarters, and is undertaking design development activities along company-wide lines. We intend to engage in global support for UD in the form of technological development and activities that leverage customers' voices. At the same time we'll communicate with society and citizens through new UD activities that include industry, government, academia, and citizens, with today's lecture and workshop as examples.

Kimitaka Kato, SVP, Marketing Transformation Project Office
Kimitaka Kato, SVP, Marketing Transformation Project Office

Prof. Burgstahler: I think it should be possible to create a model by which a company recruits an appropriate group of people who periodically test and evaluate a variety of products. It's important that high school students and other young people with varied disabilities perform evaluations from the perspective of those varied disabilities.

Nakamura: UD in Japan is meticulous and thus overly protective, and needs to shift in the direction of enabling autonomy as in the US. Product design geared toward Japan's future is necessary, with consideration of educational systems and other cultural differences.

Shiono: The Fujitsu Group is advancing diversity in the belief that it's vital to leverage diverse human resources in order for the company and individuals to grow together. Internal surveys have shown a difference between people with and without disabilities in the affirmative response rate to items such as "a sense of fulfillment toward your job." We've had people with disabilities comment, "I have to clearly convey what I want the company to consider, and what things I can and can't do." I want to use a variety of measures to aim for workplaces where diverse employees are motivated to work with enthusiasm.

Noriko Shiono, Vice President, Diversity Promotion Office
Noriko Shiono, Vice President, Diversity Promotion Office

Toyoda: At Fujitsu, employees with disabilities are active as salespersons, SE, developers, researchers, business staff, and so on in all of our businesses. Through working alongside people with disabilities in our workplaces, Fujitsu has learned many important requirements for business. I always tell students with disabilities who seek employment at Fujitsu that the company gives consideration to disabilities, but does not hold back in asking people with disabilities to contribute. We confirm what considerations are required for each person we employ, consider what workplaces will let that person be active, and undertake coordination that includes putting in support devices.

Ken Toyoda, Director, Recruiting Center
Ken Toyoda, Director, Recruiting Center

Prof. Burgstahler: The reason I have DO-IT programs engage people from their teens in the US is because I believe this is a most vital age. Teens are starting to develop self-awareness, and tend to think that every problem that occurs is because of their disabilities. They all have their own problems and concerns, but by sharing these, friendships grow within DO-IT. As an example, there is an event for graduating students in the US known as prom, where girls are generally escorted by boys. In the past, girls with disabilities have stayed away, blaming it on their disabilities, but girls taking part in DO-IT have taken part as a girl group. It's important to know what people are facing at every age, and determine what their needs and worries are at that time.

Nakamura: Japan needs to start thinking about the impact of raising children in a world that is kind to disabled people and the elderly. It's not meaningful to simply listen to the voices of these people who are communicating and creating lives inside a closed society. We've come to an age in which we can observe them, build people up with technology, and design society together with people.

Kenryu Nakamura, Director, DO-IT Japan; Professor, the University of Tokyo
Kenryu Nakamura, Director, DO-IT Japan; Professor, the University of Tokyo

Terashi: Being too kind may stem from holding back in what we ask of people. It seems to me that we can hold back too much when we don't stand in people's place. In the Wish Project, too, we start from asking what children are thinking, without feeling sorry for them or feeling we have to do something for them. Using SNS and other tools, we need to create a place where they can share their thoughts. I think it all begins with people in varied circumstances around the world understanding each other's thoughts and worries.

Fujisaki: The essence of Fujitsu's business is providing solutions through ICT, which in turn is a service that resolves society's issues while providing quality products. To identify society's issues, too, I want to think about how to overcome cultural differences and provide value to society.

The power of ICT lies in unleashing the abilities of individuals and bringing opportunity and possibilities to all people. The Fujitsu Group's UD initiatives bear a large role in this. We hope to draw on the opinions expressed to keep on improving our corporate value.

Participant profiles

Sheryl Burgstahler

Sheryl Burgstahler
Affiliate Professor, College of Education, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington).
Founder and Director, DO-IT Center and UW Access Technology Center (ATC); Instructor/Advisor, Distance Learning.
Engaged in project development, support, and instruction for IT usage, UD application, physical space provision, and other activities to resolve issues for students facing academic or vocational difficulties due to disabilities or illness.


Kenryu Nakamura

Kenryu Nakamura
Director, DO-IT Japan; Professor, The University of Tokyo
1987: Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Kagawa University.
1992: Visiting Scholar, University of Kansas and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
1995: Visiting Scholar, University of Dundee.
April 2005: Project Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo.