Day 54: Accessing Disabilities

By Tazia Teresa Darryanto and Voice, Jakarta, Indonesia, 29 September 2017

Voice is an inclusive and innovative grant facility for the most marginalised and discriminated groups implemented in 10 countries in Africa and Asia. The target groups in Voice are identified as follows: 1) Differently-abled (difable) people, 2) Women facing exploitation, abuse, and/or violence, 3) Age discriminated group as youth and elderly, 4) Indigenous group and ethnic minorities, and 5) LGBTIQ.

Voice believes in nothing about us, without us. It is translated into practice where grants focus on target-led empowerment, inclusive lobby and advocacy, reaching the furthest behind first, and learning from innovation.

The nature of Voice enables linking and learning among grantees, communities of practice, and community of stakeholders. As Age of Wonderland initiates the “100 Days of Learning”, Voice takes the opportunity to position the target groups as the teachers. Their experience with daily stigmas, structured exclusions, and discrimination need to be shared and understood more widely. Their knowledge will raise awareness about these issues, and build solidarities for a more inclusive society.

Accessing Disabilities

The simulation was divided into two sections; each represents one form of disability. First, total dark section to represent blindness. Participants were led through audio/ their friends command in order to pass and continue to the next section. Second, the silence section represents deafness. Participants were verbally asked without sound several simple questions. After completing the whole simulations, they discussed with ‘the teachers’ how they feel and how difficult it was to pass the room.

The students tried to guess what disability means.
The students were asked to walk with eyes closed.

Jonna Damanik, a prominent blind activist, shared his perspective about people living with disability. The disability is caused by the absence of reasonable accommodation, accessibility, and paradigm. The United nations use ‘reasonable accommodation’ in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, saying refusal to make accommodation results in discrimination. It defines a ‘reasonable accommodation’ as: necessary and appropriate modification and adjustment not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Accessibility’ is defined as: to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, by ensuring to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.

Left to right: Jonna Damanik, Dewi Tjakrawinata, Morgan Maze

Last, the paradigm on disability should be shifted from the people to the infrastructure and the access, from charity to rights based approach.

The intellectual disability of people with down syndrome is the availability of simple and understandable languages for them. The strong stigma from society towards them is also one of the enabling environment to make them disabled from participating as common citizens with entitled rights.

The absence of inclusive school to empower people with down syndrome, the absence of peer group, organisation, and the like, makes the people with down syndrome are more alienated. Dewi Tjakrawinata with her son with down syndrome, Morgan Maze, initiates Teenagers with Down Syndrome Peer Group Association with series of training program among young people with down syndrome to gain their confidence, leadership skills, and eventually having their own association as the channel to speak their rights up.

The fact of people with down syndrome are having a lot of achievements in special Olympics, and having a lot of talents put the students in amaze state as they couldn’t imagine before.

About 100 Days of Learning

Age of Wonderland 2017 presents 100 DAYS OF LEARNING, a global learning event to exchange valuable life experiences with peers. Doers and thinkers from around the world — innovators, scientists, engineers, artists, designers, social entrepreneurs — are invited to share their personal stories, ideas, and practice, not to be found in textbooks. Aim is to rediscover knowledge, challenge beliefs, and exchange life lessons with others. To make the world a better place, we need to embrace change on an individual level, and inspire others to do the same.