British Council spoke with Annisa Rahmania, a disabled dancer (deaf), about her views on disability arts in Indonesia and how her participation in disability arts activities strengthen her aspiration to advocate disability issues in Indonesia.
Recently, a handful of organizations in the world are opening their eyes to the aesthetic challenge often posed by disabled artists. British Council is one of them, trying to improve access for disabled people as audience and artists.
One example is when British Council invited me to participate in the second Indonesian Ballet Gala: An Inclusive Dance Event, last September at Teater Besar, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta. I’m a disabled dancer (deaf) who is passionate in advocating disability issues.
After finishing my Visual Communication Design studies , I became active in various activities. In 2016, I became an Indonesian delegate for Deaf Youth Leadership Exchange in the U.S. and Unlimited Festival Disability Arts in London, England. In both programmes, I encountered disabled people from around the world and it motivated me to create disability-inclusive activities in Indonesia.
I had the opportunity to observe disabled people from different parts of the world that could independently access places and express themselves through innovative arts; I saw many great art performances by disabled artists that were greeted with applause and appreciation, and that became my dream for Indonesia. Starting from there, with a well-thought out strategy, I want to apply the same thing in Indonesia.
But of course that mission can’t be accomplished easily. The challenges that disability in Indonesia faces comes not only from the environment or society but also within the disabled people themselves. What we often find is groups of disabled people tend to not blend in with other groups of disabled people. This influences society’s concept of thinking to classify disabilities based on the conditions that the disabled people carry, such as sensory disability, intellectual disability, physical disability, or even mental disability.
Another challenge is that some people still misunderstand the meaning of ‘inclusive’. The understanding about the concept of inclusivity is only limited to the acceptance of people with disabilities. Acceptance must be followed by actions that lead to the fulfilment of appropriate and proper accommodation of access.
In reality, in Indonesia the condition of access for disabled people is often missed. Appropriate and proper access has an important role in bridging relationships between individuals. With the presence of appropriate access , individuals can exchange information, knowledge, and even skills because there will be no barrier in communicating.
Therefore, it takes courage and determination from non-disabled as well as disabled people to establish cooperation in achieving a more inclusive Indonesia. This is not the concern of one particular group, but the responsibility of the society as a whole.