Office for Students with DisabilitiesWaseda University

About the Office

Our Alumni

WATANABE, Tadahiro

Graduated from the School of Social Sciences in 2008 (March 2009).

Completed Master’s of Political Science in 2011 (September 2011).

About my disability

I have a condition called muscular dystrophy, where the muscles gradually become weaker and waste away, so I need a powered wheelchair to get around. Since my whole body is affected, I need assistance with nearly all ordinary daily activities, including eating, bathing and going to bed. At the moment I’m able to live independently with the help of a carer at the office and at home. When I was at university, I was able to commute independently and the only assistance I needed on campus was for using the toilet at specific times of day.

What I’m doing now

After completing my Master’s degree program I spent a year at vocational school getting qualified as a social welfare worker. Then I set up an NPO providing advice to people with physical disabilities on applying to universities. I found that many people didn’t have a proper home environment to receive support or were unable to go to university or access opportunities for preparation. In my own case, I knew that there would come a time when my parents could no longer care for me as they had done for so many years. I realized that there was a real need for support structures that included carers. I decided to begin in my local area, and in 2014 I founded a disability support home care services office in the city of Chiba. Despite being few in number, we managed to get the office up and running with help from the users of the service, staff and many local businesses. There are many households where family members are already overstretched in terms of the level of support they can provide. We need to provide more help to these families, while also providing equality of opportunity for people with disabilities in a range of areas, including access to university education.

My message to younger students

I was fortunate enough to have volunteers help me use the toilet when I was at university. But more than the act of assistance itself, this brought me into contact with students whom I would never have met otherwise, through classes or university clubs. Just meeting so many different people with interesting backgrounds was a wonderful experience in itself. There is a huge diversity in the student cohort at Waseda University. For me, relying on the help of others was a blessing rather than a handicap. I would recommend Waseda to any young person with a disability who is considering further study. And I would urge current Waseda students to register with the OSD and join the team of support staff. There’s so much to learn from meeting people with disabilities!

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