Disability and Meaningful Participation in Disaster Preparedness Combating Discrimination and Making Inclusion Possible in Yogyakarta City

Case study:

Disability and Meaningful Participation in Disaster Preparedness

Combating Discrimination and Making Inclusion Possible in Yogyakarta City


Brigita Ra Sekar Laras and Dewicha Kinanti Tandiari


Prawirodirjan Village is administratively located in the Gondomanan sub-District, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta. This village has historical values with 3 kampungs that became symbols of influence and power during the classic sultanate period, they are Kampung Prawirodirjan, Kampung Sayidan, and Kampung Yudonegaran. Currently, Prawirodirjan Village represents the center of economic and cultural activity with the Indonesia Post Office area and the North Square (Alun-alun Utara) which are administratively located in Prawirodirjan Village. As one of the village located in the heart of Yogyakarta City, Prawirodirjan is densely populated by both natives and settlers from other cities. This village is inhabited by 9,028 residents or 3166 families on 0.45 km2 land area.

Disaster Management Training and Participatory Risk and Capacity Assessment Workshop

In terms of strengthening community resilience to disasters, the Prawirodirjan Village collaborated with the Yogyakarta City Disaster Management Agency in establishing the Disaster Resilient Village (Kampung Tangguh Bencana) in 2017. Hereinafter, in 2022, the YAKKUM Emergency Unit has been partnering with the Yogyakarta City Disaster Management Agency, Yogyakarta Province Disaster Management Agency, and the Prawirodirjan Village Government to strengthen the Village Disaster Taskforce Team by developing inclusive disaster preparedness activities led by local communities with a series of capacity building.

The Village Taskforce Team is strengthened through carrying out by adopting the Disaster Resilience Village (Destana) module steps developed by the NDMA. In this case, a disaster risk and capacity assessment or mapping were carried out as an initial stage to assess the vulnerability of the village. This study invited representatives of community groups in Prawirodirjan Village, including disaster volunteers, existing members of Village Taskforce Team, women's groups, older people groups, youth groups, and disability groups. In the training held on 28-29 June 2022 at the Tasneem Hotel, three representatives of the disability group were present to share their knowledge in risk and capacity assessment. One of the (deaf) disability who attended the event was Bagas Tri Hanantyo.

Disaster Threats and Vulnerability: Disability Perspective

As a native resident of Yogyakarta City, Bagas Tri Hanantyo was born and raised in Prawirodirjan Village. The house where Bagas and his family lived was damaged by the earthquake that hit Yogyakarta back in 2006 which was evidenced by the cracks and traces of the unfinished renovation of his house that is located near the Code River, the river that divides the city of Yogyakarta into western and eastern parts and is one of the city's landmarks. When heavy rains are pouring, this area becomes prone to waterlogging and river overflow.

"I think heavy rain can make river water overflow," said Bagas in Yogyakarta sign language. He added, “At night, there are residents who are sneaking to throw trash in the river". he described the situation of Code River close to his house. When asked what Bagas thought about this behavior, “In my opinion, I just want to be patient because I am confused about what to do and how to tell them. There is a garbage collection site managed by garbage collectors, but the residents here cannot afford to pay as much as 5000 rupiahs (equivalent to USD 0,33) every week,” he explained.

There are problems caused by rivers that are not managed properly, such as practices that still occur in Prawiordirjan including bad smell, garbage clogs, puddles, and mosquito larvae which are the source of dengue disease. In the area where he lives, there are cowhide and convection factories. These factories have been operating for a long time, but for more than 2 decades the factory waste is still being discharged into the Code River stream which causes a strong unpleasant smell and a dark red liquid.

In an interview, Bagas talked about how he lives his daily life, including social activities with the community, and how he has been observing the phenomena of the surrounding environment.

"There is a regular community gathering near the house and it is a gathering for the female and male groups, but I don't go because I work if there is a call for work, besides, I'm shy, and I don't have money", he said.

He is deaf and every time he participates in social activities with the community, Bagas finds it difficult because there is no one to talk to or try to communicate with, even in village-level meetings, no sign language interpreter is provided. The communication barrier has made Bagas unresponsive to the various events/activity he had seen so far, including the strange activity, he saw in the river which he often saw when he accidentally passed by or while he was fishing.

"There are no more settlers who bathe and wash in the river, but some residents often urinate and defecate in the river. Usually, they defecate at night secretly. I thought, when they defecate in the morning, they will be embarrassed because someone else is watching or it could be because there is no toilet (the public toilet is broken), or if they just want to see the view, they can pee in the river. Not only the native residents who defecate here, but also people who do not live in this area.”

The Struggle During COVID-19 Pandemic

Bagas and his wife, Widya, have one daughter. Their child is currently studying in Jakarta, entrusted to Widya's parents for economic reasons, and because of inadequate facilities in his place, according to Bagas. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it became more difficult for his family. He said, during Covid-19, it was difficult to find work. Previously, he worked as a WIFI/CCTV repairman (until recently), but during the pandemic, his customers were reduced significantly. Bagas and Widya, obeyed health protocols and rarely left the house which limited their mobility and income. They were terrified of getting infected. Bagas was confused because he should find a job, but it was also not safe to leave the house. Bagas also said that his wife had been unemployed for seven years, thus affecting their financial condition. However, he was grateful to say that Widya recently got a job as a tailor for clothes convection in the Jokteng Kulon.

Bagas has been working as a Wi-Fi repairman for a long time. In the past, he also fixed CCTV at the same time. However, as time goes by, Bagas no longer fixes CCTV, he only focuses on Wi-Fi. The reason was there many competitors, so he was never called again (to fix CCTV). Bagas works with a businessman who was introduced by his family and is assisted by his nephew in his work because his nephew can communicate with sign language.

During the pandemic, many of Bagas' neighbors were infected with Covid-19 and several people died. This made Bagas and his wife afraid and down because at that time no medical personnel came to help them. Another difficulty was because Bagas has a hearing impairment, he didn't understand what was actually happening, he just followed people/was asked to wear a mask which made him harder to understand other people through their lip motion. He can only access information from the internet. In addition, there are several posters placed around the house that he can understand (although the information is not clear enough). Bagas talked a lot about the difficulties he had in accessing a lot of information circulating in his environment because no one was able to communicate with him and he was discriminated against by some community members in his environment.

Combating Discrimination

In everyday life, Bagas often gets discrimination. Often when walking with his mother, people made fun of him because he was deaf. From the gesture, Bagas understood that he was being made fun of and his mother defended Bagas and made it clear to people that he did not accept that her son was insulted. When her mother told her what had happened, he felt hurt and sad at being treated like that. This makes Bagas not have many friends. He narrowed his friendship with only a friend from high school (Sewon Special Needs School) who was also a deaf friend. Bagas did not join the deaf community or anything else because he felt that he did not have enough free time and was feeling inferior. He experienced this feeling a long time ago when he was in school, where he felt very hampered (in understanding and learning patterns) because the teacher was not competent in teaching. The teacher rarely communicates using sign language when teaching so Bagas was confused and felt that he can't understand the lesson optimally. This is the reason why Bagas has fewer friends to hang out with, did not participate, and was included in a group activity.

In every meeting he has attended, Bagas gets information through his mother. He is not part of the village WhatsApp group. If he is invited to a meeting, his mother becomes the liaison for the information. Even though he had attended several meetings held by the local and village government, Bagas did not get used to adapting or experiencing deeper knowledge because there was no access provided for him to understand the contents of the meeting. He barely had an active role in the meeting.

“In the past, I participated in an annual disability day event in the village with my wife. There may be 15 people with disabilities who joined. However, there was no sign language interpreter so I joined the meeting and just stayed silent and slept. In other meetings, some people talk to me but don't use gestures and the pronunciation of their mouths is not clear, so I don't know what they are talking about,” he said.

He has a similar story when attending a training about risk and capacity assessment by YEU. The team did not get information about the disability participant who would be present, so there was no sign language interpreter in the first session. However, not long after, the team immediately contacted a sign language interpreter to come to the training. After that, Bagas and Widya were able to take part in the activities comfortably and quite actively.

The reasons why he is reluctant to participate in various social activities are because he can't communicate with people, no one can be an information liaison, often gets discriminated against because he is deaf, and feels that if he attends meetings, Bagas is afraid that he will cause problems. Bagas understands that being deaf will face various obstacles, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to be accepted in society, he wants social spaces to also provide accessible facilities for the deaf. For example, he chooses a sign language interpreter to communicate because reading long and formal texts will be difficult to understand. because the deaf has a different culture and language structure.

He said that so far, he has been interested in interacting more with online friends on social media. He met friends from various countries, some from Malaysia, Singapore, etc. virtually. Bagas' friends are also deaf f, interacting via live Instagram or Facebook. From virtual meetings, Bagas learned international sign language independently so that he can exchange information with deaf friends from across countries. Aside from being entertained, this activity is a place where deaf people from all over the world can strengthen and encourage each other, especially in challenging situations.

Bagas' situation might be experienced by other deaf or people with disabilities. Limited information, inadequate access, lack of knowledge due to limited education, as well as discrimination that comes from various parties and places are among the vulnerability factors that make people with disabilities unable to participate meaningfully in social life and development activities. Efforts must come from the smallest environment (family, relatives, neighbors, friends), the government, as well as the institutions concerned. When he is invited? with adequate access, he feels happy and can participate actively.          

Preparing Accessible Accommodation to Encourage Inclusive Participation

Carrying out inclusive activities requires an understanding of disability needs. The variety of disabilities is very large and varies depending on the social and cultural background of a certain place. In another training held by YEU in Kulon Progo District, deaf people who participated in the activity could not communicate fluently even though a sign language interpreter had been provided because their social interaction was very limited in their area, so they were not exposed to the growing culture and sign language. In the village, there are not many people who can be their caregivers in terms of giving and receiving information and even families because the gestures used are very limited to the local context, for example only the vocabulary of everyday life in the village, so that when a sign language interpreter is provided, not all sign languages ​​can be understood.

In another training, giving close captions to the deaf did not help them to participate in activities because the language was long, fast, and unfamiliar terms could not be understood. Deaf communicate with gestures, and typical deaf language expressions, the structure is very simple and not the same as the structure of the Indonesian language in general.

Providing a sign language interpreter is also something that requires preparation because professionally they do not work alone. In the procedures developed in the official sign language interpreter community, they must work with partners in tandem as a safety standard. Because working too hard by moving the limbs for too long as a person who does not have a deaf mother would be a risk for bone health, especially the wrist. The sign language interpreter will take turns on duty every 15 minutes and become an assistant for other interpreters.

One of the active disability forums in Yogyakarta isDifagana.Difagana is the first Disaster Prepared Difabel group in Indonesia. The social service agency initiated the formation ofDifagana to bridge other groups of people with disabilities in analyzing needs during a disaster.Difagana was formed because in the context of a disaster volunteers with disabilities can better understand the condition of disaster victims who are also disabled. So that handling can be more precise and faster in recovery.Difagana covers all areas of DI Yogyakarta and is active in each districtDifagana is a volunteer group tasked with helping others before, during, and after a disaster and has been actively serving since 2017.Difagana also collaborates with YEU in many disaster risk reduction activities by becoming a consultant, an implementing partner, or a participant in capacity building. Another disability group that exists in Yogyakarta is CIQAL. CIQAL (Center for Improving Qualified Activity in Life of People with Disabilities) is an institution that carries out programs for economic empowerment and advocacy for persons with disabilities toward an independent and prosperous life. Currently, CIQAL is collaborating with YEU in developing disaster innovations, namely the Sister Village Role Optimization Program from the Kepuharjo District in an Inclusive Disaster Preparedness Program for Disabilities. Through disability organizations, meaningful opportunities and participation are increasingly manifested in various social issues, including disaster and development. Other disability organizations include HWDI (Indonesian Women with Disabilities Association), PPDI (Indonesian Association of Persons with Disabilities), FPDB (Bantul Disabled Association Forum), Pertuni (Indonesian Blind Association), and Gerkatin (Movement for the Welfare of the Deaf in Indonesia).

Inclusive Access and its Impact on Disabilities in Social and Development

Being involved in disaster risk and capacity studies with other community representatives at the Tasneem Hotel was Bagas' first experience being involved with sign language interpreter assistance. According to Bagas, there were many things he doesn't understand related to disaster issues and how to deal with disasters.

               “The blind cannot see, while the deaf doesn't hear oral signs when a disaster occurs. For example, during the earthquake that rocked Yogyakarta in 2006, I was sleeping, when my mother was woken up and told to come out. There is a house (which) is about to collapse. I was confused about what happened and what to do, so I just ran along. When a volcano erupts, you can't hear it. I panicked when I saw people running. I don't understand (how) how to save myself”, Bagas highlighted what he felt and experienced when a natural disaster occurred.

Limited access to information in the community made Bagas isolated from social activities and interactions with other disabilities. Based on the information he understands, three deaf people are living near his house, Bagas himself, Widya (his wife), and Ferry, a boy who is still in junior high school. In addition, he does not know many fellow people with disability who live in this area. Bagas admitted that he was once invited to take part in a with other people with disabilities in the village, there were about 15 participants, but the number of deaf disabilities was not large and there was no sign language interpreter provided so there was not much information or activities that he could participate in.

According to Bagas, the involvement of representatives of disability groups in various forums is very important, however, it will be in vain if it is not supported by facilities that allow disabilities to be fully and meaningfully involved. In the case of deafness, as experienced by Bagas, the presence of a JBI or an assistant who can connect deafness to hearing is very critical.

“I am very happy (participating in) the activities at the Tasneem Hotel because there were sign language interpreters who assisted us for two days so that I could understand the matters discussed on the sessions and have friends to talk to. Even though I forgot their name, but I’m so thankful for the support. If there will be a similar activity, I am excited to join again.