Hello, I’m Hiroshi Watabiki from Japan. I was born in Tokyo and currently live in Chiba. I am hereditarily deaf and so are my parents and siblings, which is why we are commonly called a “deaf family”.
Until high school, I used normal Japanese to talk with outsiders (i.e. through lip-reading and practicing it myself though without voice) whereas I used sign language only at my home because I felt a bit embarrassed to use sign language in public. Also, from a social point of view, I noticed I couldn’t work using sign language, so I used Japanese.
When I was in the second year at college, I found a workplace called “Sign with Me” which changed my life. It has a main and important rule i.e. to use only the sign language as the official language. I was confused with this rule at first because I couldn’t believe to be able to work using only sign language as mentioned above. But when I actually started working there, the boss there proved me that it was possible. Thanks to this experience, I began to live using sign language anywhere due to which I found myself smiling more than before. I realized this is the right way of my life which has finally made me the real me.