Jakarta. The Australian Embassy held a friendly forum of meetings and discussions for people with disabilities in Jakarta on Thursday (14/12).
Three leading disability activists were invited to the forum to share their often harrowing but also inspirational experience with the audience — Mohammad Ismail, the developer of sign language application 'Signteraktif,' Slamet Thohari, an advocate for disability rights at the Disability Study and Service Center in Brawijaya University and Ni Made Ratni, the captain of the Indonesian wheelchair rugby team.
Slamet said education opportunities for people with disabilities in Indonesia are still very limited. To make matters worse, they are often seen as second-class citizens and rarely given equal opportunities.
"Very few people with disabilities in Indonesia can go on to get higher education," he said.
Made Ratni, who spends a lot of her time "head-hunting" young people with disabilities to train and play for the Indonesian wheelchair rugby team, said lack of confidence caused by an unsupportive environment is also a big concern.
"A lot of them don't believe me when I tell them they can be athletes," she said. "Many disabled people don't even have the confidence to get out of the house without their parents in tow," she added.
Ismail said he came up with the idea for his Signteraktif app from the difficulties he had applying for his e-KTP (electronic ID card).
"The officers didn't understand that since I am deaf, I can't respond to their phone calls. And they kept calling me," he said in sign language.
"People with hearing difficulties can use my app to communicate easily with able-bodied people," he said. "I want this app to help deaf people in Indonesia become more independent."
The evening was topped off by an impressive performance from inclusive dance group CANdoDANCE.