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MFW6 Talks: Film, Deaf People, and Sign Language

Limited Access Dilemma and Identity of Deaf Culture

Written by Nurafida Kemala Hapsari. Translated by Rickdy Vanduwin

In the middle of technology development that makes humans’ life easier, deaf people who especially live in a rural area in Indonesia, still struggle to get the fulfillment of their rights. At least that’s what Ade Wirawan feels, a deaf activist and founder of the Bali Deaf Community.

Society and the government’s awareness of deaf people’s accessibility are still low, even non-existent. The Bali government actually has a Local Government Regulation Bali Province No. 9 the Year 2015 about Protection and Fulfillment of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But in the practical context, there are many things not implemented properly. Especially with the deaf community, one of the limited accesses is a lack of sign language use in public space.

Ade admitted human resources for sign language interpreters in Indonesia are so little. Not many people are interested in learning sign language. “Socialization of sign language and deaf culture is still lacking,” said Ade through his sign language interpreter, Satyawati and Ranum Dara Valentin, in MFW6 Short Film Market, “Talks: Film, Deaf People, and Sign Language” in MASH Denpasar, Saturday (5/9).

Ade will not be silent with that condition. As a deaf activist, he won’t stop giving aspiration and inform his concern to the public institution and joins as Public Relations of GERKATIN (Movement for the Welfare of the Deaf in Indonesia) Youth Department, and Secretary of the GERKATIN Bali. His hope is clear; to make the government aware of an access provision in public space and equality of an opportunity for deaf people. “Because it’s our rights that also have been written in the Law and Local Government Regulation,” Ade said.

Indeed some national TVs and central government institutions have been recently providing sign language interpreters in delivering information to deaf people. Especially in this COVID-19 pandemic when every information is important for every layer of society to know. But, in the practical context, there are new problems that deaf people get.

“There are still media interpreters that use the Indonesian Sign Language System (SIBI). Even though we often use Indonesian Sign Language (BISINDO), where those two have different concepts. SIBI really follows Indonesian oral grammar, meanwhile, BISINDO is more natural. There are many deaf friends who don’t really understand SIBI.” Ade said.

The diversity of sign language used by the deaf community shows the different meanings between ‘deaf people’ and ‘tunarungu’. Ade explained that ‘tunarungu’ is a medical term used to describe a limited functionality. Meanwhile, ‘deaf people’ is a cultural identity referring to linguistic minority group. “So, there is still a misunderstanding if thinking ‘tunarungu’ is a subtle term for ‘deaf’ or ‘tuli’. In fact, deaf people are more comfortable with the term ‘deaf’ or ‘tuli’.” Ade said.

Ade dalam salah satu talks MFW6 – Niskala Studio

Besides sign language, text-on-screen availability is also needed for deaf people to understand the whole context. For example, when watching a film, Ade said in Indonesia, there are only a few films that have Indonesian subtitles. Meanwhile, not all deaf people can read the actors’ lips moves on the screen.

“Foreign films screened in Indonesia are of course provided with Indonesian subtitles. But, when it comes to Indonesian films, not many films have the subtitle. That’s why we don’t watch good Indonesian films in cinema because of the unavailability of subtitles.” said Ade.

Because of that, Ade is happy for Minikino Film Week 6, Bali International Short Film Festival that provides Indonesian subtitles for every short film and also presents sign language interpreters in Talks and Forum session so that deaf people can also enjoy watching the short films.

At the end of the Talks session, Ade told us his dream is to make Bali and Indonesia be more friendly for deaf people. He hopes hearing people can also learn sign language so that we all can understand each other. Up to this day, Ade has been giving his aspiration to the government, but he’s often hampered by the complicated bureaucracy.

“The awareness of the deaf culture needs to be integrated with every government and societal component. We need to be patient because it’s a very long journey. We cannot just give up to fight for our rights.” Ade explained.


Tentang Penulis:

Nurafida Kemala Hapsari / kemalafie94@gmail.com

Cewek biasa yang hidupnya suka nomaden. I believe being weird and different are not a bad things. It means you have something special.


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