Ms. Yuriko Oda is engaged in a wide range of activities to create a world where wheelchair users do not need to give up. She is a developer of a barrier-free map application, with which, she won the grand prize at Google Impact Challenge (a social contribution idea contest sponsored by Google LLC). In order to keep these activities going, she explores ways to make profits from them, and commits herself to remove the mind barriers for a more barrier-free society.
What I learned in Denmark-disability activities are conducted and recognized in a more "positive" way.
When I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with distal myopathy, a progressive muscle disease featured by muscle atrophy. I have been leading a wheelchair life since my age of 26. Until then, I had lived a normal life without any disabilities, so even after I was diagnosed with the disease, I seldom considered I am a person with a disability. It was when I was 30 years old that I went to Denmark, a welfare-advanced country for study, and I started to learn more about disabilities. How can we develop activities that involve the non-disabled, and make them feel "interesting" rather than getting support by appealing to their sympathy? I learned a lot in Denmark, which brought me to the next-step. In 2014, I launched Wheelchair Walker, an internet video site to provide barrier-free information. Wheelchair Walker, however is a one-way communication from me, and I felt it is less impressive if I want to go as far as solving problems. To make a platform where anyone can share their situation interactively, I came up with the concept for WheeLog!, a barrier-free map application created by everyone. I will continue my efforts to expand this platform and promote interactive information sharing.
Importance of making profits through business operations
When I was still new in the APT Women, to be honest, I was overwhelmed because some of the peer members were much more aspirational and ahead of me. At that time, I was developing WheeLog!, an app to share all the roads traveled by wheelchair, where I was preoccupied with the idea, "I should make a good application anyway," and thought little of making profits from it. After serious discussions with APT Women's mentors and some colleagues, however, I started to think about sponsorship and other ways to finance the application. This was necessary in order to keep this going as a business. As a result of gaining this business mind set through APT Women, I was able to win a bid for the Paralympic-related business announced by the Japan Tourism Agency the other day. If my idea had not been adopted by the APT Women, I would not have even thought of taking on this challenge.
In the future, I want to let my business help eliminate information barriers for persons with disabilities, and create an environment free of mind barriers.
how to refresh when I feeling sad
For times when I feel depressed, I will make a list of foods and music that make makes me feel excited and refreshed. Dine out at the sushi restaurant (which has been my favorite since my childhood) or eat some cake, and I can naturally feel energized. When I say "this is my favorite song," it means I listen to it hundreds of times. Listening to favorite music has an excellent relaxing effect on me. I recommend you to know your favorites because just putting a single flower refreshes your mind.
Create a world where wheelchair users do not need to give up.
When we start something new, we will encounter a lot of difficulties. So each time before starting something new, I ask myself, "Is it just for satisfying my ego, or can it be of any help to others?" I cannot keep trying if it is only for myself, but if it can also help others, and if I imagine his or her smile, I think I can do my best despite difficulties. Since next year (2020) is the year of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, I would like to offer necessary information and help overseas wheelchair users enjoy their stay in Japan.
Institute WheeLog CEOYuriko Oda
Yuriko was born in 1980. She graduated from Faculty of Economics, Soka University. In 2002, when she was 22 years old, she was diagnosed with distal myopathy, a progressive myopathy. She had studied in Denmark for six months from 2010. In 2014, Yuriko established Wheelchair Walker, a video site to provide barrier-free travel information. She has been engaged in a variety of activities. In 2017, she released WheeLog!, a barrier-free map application created by everyone.