Chapter 1

Disability in Indonesia

How to interact with disabled people

In the previous article we discussed the need to work with disabled artists and creatives.

We are now going to talk a bit about how to interact with disabled people. This came about because when we tried to find out why some people don’t want to work with disabled artist, quite a few people said that they felt uncomfortable and don’t quite know how to interact with disabled people.

In essence we all must have felt annoyed when we are treated unfairly or unkindly by others, right? So treat others how you would like be treated. If you are still unsure of what this looks like here are some things we learnt from speaking to our disabled friends.

Ask them whether or not they need help, not everyone wants to be help or need help.

  • Respect their personal belongings and space. For example, do not treat other people’s wheel chair like a table so that you can put your stuff on it; or do not move their crutches without asking them
  • When speaking to a wheelchair user, ensure that you are at eye-level with them
Peserta memposisikan dirinya sejajar dengan pengguna kursi roda saat mereka berdiskusi

With Learning Difficulties

  • Talk to them politely and direct it to the person you are talking to rather than to their carer
  • Smile
  • Use plain words with clear intonation
  • Ask them open questions instead of closed questions
  • Ensure that the person understands what you are communicating, if necessary repeat the important points

With long term health mental condition

  • Ask people things relating to their schedule, whether or not they have specific timing to take their medicine or have a rest
  • If necessary use images or items that you can point out to help identify what you are talking about
  • Speak clearly and ensure you are not talking too fast

Try to understand their situation, not everyone is comfortable to talk about or discuss their personal situation

With blind or partially sighted people

  • Ask if they need assistance, and what sort of assistance would they need
  • When assisting, let them know when you need to leave their side
  • When helping, let them hold your arms, not you holding theirs, unless they ask to.
  • Don’t move things around without their knowledge 

Before starting to talk to them, ensure that they notice that you are there by either softly tapping on their shoulder or their upper arm.Try not to startle them.

Orang sedang berkomunikasi berhadapan dengan Tuli dan dibantu oleh Juru Bahasa Isyarat

With Deaf

  • Ensure they can see you before talking to them
  • Position yourself where they can see you
  • Even better if you are face-to-face some deaf people can read lips, but not all can
  • Ensure that there is no noisy background noise
  • Choose a well-lit space to speak to them
  • Where possible wear simple clothes and accessories, this helps to minimise visual disturbance

Ensure you directly speak to them not to the sign language interpreter.

Of course, these tips are what we have learnt and noticed so far, we are still learning. We might missed some key information, if you have anything to add or anything that you disagree with please do not hesitate to send us an email or DM us on our Instagram account.

This article was written originally in Indonesian as a part of Inklusivitas Kolaborasi seni dan Kreatif,  a result of our Project Gerakan Kreabilitas, which is a project funded by British Council’s Developing Inclusive Creative Economy (DICE).

The complete toolkit in Indonesian is available to be downloaded here.