The House of Representatives passed bills Friday to amend 27 laws that ban the blind and deaf from working as doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists.

The bills, which have already cleared the House of Councilors, stipulate, however, that the government may deny the issuance of professional licenses to “people who will have difficulty carrying out tasks due to a physical or mental disorder.”

The idea is to allow room for applicants to receive the licenses on a case-by-case basis. The old laws state the government will not grant professional licenses to people who are blind, deaf or mentally impaired.

The health ministry will define the specific types and levels of disorders in its ordinances to back up the laws.

Blindness, deafness and mental disorders will be considered conditions of restriction for applicants seeking licenses to work as doctors, dentists and nurses. Blindness and mental disorders will be restrictive conditions for pharmacists and clinical laboratory technicians.

For physical therapists, only a mental disorder will be considered a restrictive condition.

Color-vision tests to go

The labor ministry plans to abolish the color-vision tests that employers must conduct as part of their pre-employment medical checks under the Industrial Safety and Health Law, ministry officials said Friday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry wants to abolish the tests as colorblindness rarely affects work performance and some employers rule out applicants without giving specific reasons.

The ministry will instruct employers who wish to exclude colorblind applicants to elaborate on their reasons.

In addition, their explanations will be written under the job description section rather than the physical condition section of application forms, the officials said. The style of application forms will also be changed.

A ministry panel has said that gene-related data, such as information on infectious diseases, and color-vision tests invite misunderstanding and prejudice, which could lead to social discrimination.

Similar tests at schools conducted on students have been gradually reduced since fiscal 1995.

The ministry will advise employers not to make color-vision tests mandatory unless it is necessary for the job, such as with pilots.

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