Learning Abroad Center

Accessibility: Exchange in Tokyo: Sophia University

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Learn about Exchange in Tokyo, Japan: Sophia University.


The Japanese culture may be generally sympathetic towards those with disabilities, but there is a lack of funding to support accommodations or modifications for the disabled. Sophia University has hosted one wheelchair-using foreign student in the past.  Learning disabilities such as dyslexia may not be recognized. 

Classroom/Internship Site

Most of the classrooms are wheelchair-accessible.  It may be possible to arrange for a low distraction environment for test taking.  Test accommodations, modified deadlines for assignments, and tape recording lectures will need to be negotiated with the instructor.  Copies of syllabi can usually be obtained in advance. Arrangements can sometimes be made for note-taking assistance.  It may be possible to convert classroom materials to alternate formats such as Braille or cassette tapes, with advance notice.

There are no induction loops or similar technologies in the classroom, although captioned videos may be obtained. Sign language interpreters can sometimes be arranged, but it may prove difficult and expensive to find someone knowledgeable in both Japanese and American Sign Language.

Service dogs are allowed in the classroom but not on trains.  There is Braille signage in place for buildings, elevators, and classrooms. A mobility orientation to campus can be provided.

Excursions and Field Trips

Excursions usually require extensive walking.  It may be possible to arrange wheelchair-accessible transportation.  Wheelchair-accessible rest rooms are generally available.

Arrangements could be made for a companion to assist someone with a mobility impairment or vision disability. Limitations on sign language interpreters are as indicated above.

Housing and Food Services

Students arrange for their own housing with some assistance from the Office of International Exchange.  In terms of program-sponsored housing, only the Sophia Men's Dorm is accessible for a person in a wheelchair.  The university is basically not a residential but a commuting institution.  Commuting arrangements and distances may be difficult to cope with.  Housing close to the university will be very expensive.  Hiring a personal attendant would also entail high costs. 

The dining facility is wheelchair-accessible.  Other students can assist in carrying trays, reading menus, etc.  Kitchen facilities are sometimes available for student use. Refrigeration for medication is fairly easily accessible.  There are no TTY’s on campus or in program-sponsored offices.


Most adaptive equipment may be borrowed, but speech output and voice recognition software are not currently available.  The computer labs are wheelchair accessible.

Library Services

There is a wheelchair-accessible library on campus with an electronic card catalog and computer equipped with modem. Assistance can be provided consulting the card catalogs.  A private room is available for working with a reader and a text scanner can be used to conduct research.


Trains and subways operate every day and can be accessed by someone in a wheelchair, either by a lift or with assistance from attendants.  Distance to and from classes can vary greatly.

Health Services

Personal counselors are scarce.  Other medical professionals are readily available, though treatment may be different.  In most cases health services are wheelchair accessible, but one has to get there first. Again, sign language interpreters may be difficult to obtain.