In April 1996, the Japan’s first small scale sheltered workshop for persons with visual disabilities opened in Hamamatsu City and it was named “WITH” meaning “together.”

A sheltered workshop is legally defined as a “place to work for persons who have difficulties in finding employment in the open labour market because of their intellectual and/or physical impairments, and also a place to acquire vocational and social skills.” The slogan of WITH is “everyone together” and we intend to work together and to challenge together. The fundamental philosophy of WITH is “together with” persons with disabilities and not “for” persons with disabilities.

There are several important issues related to visual impairments. First of all, there are problems related to the aging of persons with visual impairments. As they get older, the severeness of their disabilities increases and they can have multiple disabilities in addition to visual impairments. When parents of persons with disabilities are also getting older, this problem becomes even more serious. Secondly those who lost eyesight in the middle of their life face problems of dealing with their life with disabilities. Moreover there is a problem of persons with multiple disabilities whose needs are not met by any current legal frameworks. There are many other significant issues that can not be addressed within the current framework of the welfare system for persons with disabilities in Japan.

Thus these persons with visual disabilities who are facing some social problems come to WITH and they enjoy working together and receiving vocational training together.

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