On 19 July 2019, an event with the theme “Improve Job Opportunities for Youth With Disabilities” took place in Jakarta. This was part of a festival called “This is Our Story (Ini Cerita Kita)” at Goethe Institute Jakarta. Pamflet, a Voice Linking And Learning grantee, in collaboration with Sedap Films and Gerkatin Kepemudaan, organised the festival. In the festival, there was a display of products made by people with hearing disabilities (Pamflet) along with a film screening by Sedap, workshops and hip-hop dance conducted by friends from Down Syndrome Indonesia.
The event kicked off with the screening of a film, titled “Rumah Siput,” produced in collaboration with Pamflet and Gerkatin. The film by Sedap Films talked about the employment struggles of a deaf woman, Thie (Putri Santoso).
She sent hundreds of applications but couldn’t get any work. So Thie opened her own business, a cafe named Kopi Tuli, that is frequented by deaf people to express themselves. It was a partnership with two of her friends, Adhika Prakoso and Tri Erwinsyah Putra. Their focus was to empower deaf people who experience similar hardships. They believe that deaf people have untapped potential and can work just like any other person. Since its launch in May 2018 in Krukut, Depok (West Java), the cafe has a new branch in Duren Tiga in Jakarta Selatan.
A co-founder of Kopi Tuli, Adhika Prakoso, explained to us how they built the cafe. Rejected from many job interviews, he felt that there must be a communication problem or lack of understanding by some companies they applied to.
The first session of the seminar was “Understanding the Problems Youth with Disabilities Face in the Working World.” The speakers were Dewi Tjakarawinata, representing Yapesdi, and Adhi Baroto from LRBI (Sign Language Research Laboratory), University of Indonesia. In her speech, Dewi explained how we are supposed to understand each other in an environment with differently abled people. According to her, the role of the parents and close relatives/circles is important for the development and adaptation of deaf people, people with Down syndrome, and other people with disabilities.
Adhi Baroto agreed to this, who said that disability is linked to cultural differences. For the deaf people and their friends, for example, they are only different in the way they communicate. According to him, Indonesian society isn’t ready for accepting a culture of communicating with deaf people, so they think people who get along with deaf people are not normal. But what is normal, and what is not? Who is normal, and who is not? Those are the questions.
Adhi adds: “Especially in the education sector, not all deaf people have access to higher education because of lack of facilities to support their learning in all levels of school, especially at the university level. However, it is still rare to see deaf people graduate from the university, although a university certificate is required to apply for a job nowadays.”
All three speakers agreed that initiatives are required to raise awareness among the general population so that they can understand and support deaf youth with the help of sign language. This will enable them to attend school, get a job, and so on. Society must get used to the culture of communicating portrayed in “Toko Musik.” The film opened the “Ini Cerita Kita” film series shown at the event. The film revolves around the culture of working with people with disabilities in a work environment.
The speakers of the second session of the seminar were Muhammad Amin Mewakili of BEKRAF (Badan Ekonomi Kreatif) Indonesia, Tendy Gunawan from ILO (International Labour Organisation), Ricendy Januardo from Aktivis Muda Tuli, and Cak Fu from Aktivis Disabilita. The theme of the session was “The Rights and Opportunities of Youth with Disabilities, Problem in the Working Environment.” According to Cak Fu, a gap has developed because of the government’s inability to consult people with disabilities when creating a policy to help them.
In contrast, Amin, the representative of BEKRAF, explained that the government has already involved people with disabilities when creating programs. He mentioned some programs of BEKRAF, such as Coding Mum Disabilitas, as an example. The program teaches people with disabilities how to be programmers. The program was implemented in 2016 – 2018, and it targeted diverse participants, such as housewives and migrant female workers, who work outside Indonesia.
EngageMedia, as an organisation that supports rights for people with disabilities, felt that there is not enough communication and collaboration between the government and disability campaigners and activists. The government programs are mostly charity programs, and they do not focus on sustainable programs that promote the culture of accepting people with disabilities. This is why EngageMedia continues to support programs for people with disabilities by activists and other organisations. We will continue to help plan to address the cultural needs of people with disabilities and other minorities through the Linking and Learning Camp, which will take place in 21-26 August 2019.
About the Author
Nuna is a program assistant at EngageMedia. Nuna supports the implementation of EngageMedia’s initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Indonesia.