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Suara Difabel Mandiri (SDM)





By: Surya Sahetaphy

Have you heard or got about information that deaf people have not been accessed the education due to language access? Could you imagine that we have not a language? How is Deaf people’s future? These questions might be addressed to people whom unaware about deaf issues and situation recently. In specific, sign language is important for Deaf children’s development in education. From thesis which was written by Silva Isma with topic SIGNING VARIETIES IN JAKARTA AND YOGYAKARTA: DIALECTS OR SEPARATE LANGUAGES? that deaf educational is one of the strongest factors contributing to the sign language use patterns in Deaf communities and the relations among sign languages (Woodward 1976, 1993a, Hoyer 2004, Padden 2011). In addition, there are plenty of researches that sign language is a foundation to support deaf children for acquiring language as hearing children.
Since independence of Indonesia in 1945, Indonesian government has not been ratified the Indonesian Sign Language or called “BISINDO” which was introduced by GERKATIN ((Indonesia Association for the Welfare for the Deaf). “The Deaf have formed an organization called Gerkatin, an acronym for “Gerakan untuk Kesejahteraan Tunarungu Indonesia” meaning “Movement for the Welfare of the Indonesian Deaf” and this organization has spread to many of the provinces of Indonesia and its members promote the welfare of the Deaf by having lectures, sports, sewing classes, computer classes and other activities for them. Sometimes they are able to assist the Deaf in finding work.” (M. Hurlbut,2014) For this reason, there is a sign language which was introduced by SIBI team in 1995. However, this SIBI or Sign language system is not applied in order to develop deaf students’ to accomplish their goals. Other hands, BISINDO is still progress which remains used in two cities around Indonesia such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta. There are explanation of difference between BISINDO and SIBI.
Firstly, BISINDO is abbreviation which retrieved from Indonesian Sign Language or Bahasa Isyarat Indonesia in Indonesian language. The definition of BISINDO is Indonesian Sign Language for deaf people and also “BISINDO stands for Bahasa Isyarat Indonesia (Indonesian Sign Language), which is the natural language of the Indonesian deaf.” (Effendi, 2014) Also, she mentioned that BISINDO is understandable and it is similar with slang. Somehow, she also elaborated that BISINDO is a universal language which is need to be discussed. Hence, there are variation of BISINDO in around Indonesia.
In addition, BISINDO is a developing language which is limited researches. Since GERKATIN was established in 1981, there are few researches. As comparing, developing countries such as United States and United Kingdom has published many researches which concerns with sign language issues. It explained by Nick Palfreyman (2011) that, “There has been no research so far into the nature and extent of variation in the sign language used by different deaf communities.” For this reason, BISINDO has not been considered by Indonesian government as official language due to lack of proofs of researches about advantage of itself.
Secondly, SIBI is another of sign language system which was created by the Education and Culture ministry and at the present, it used to be applied in special needs schools in around Indonesia. ( Juniati Effendi (2014) told that the Indonesian government began to apply SIBI in schools since 1995. However, there are invalid sources that how SIBI was applied. Therefore, there is an privacy statement that ,” .. SIBI was created without involved deaf people because of politic which controlled by Prof. Dr. Wardiman (Dita, personal communication, April, 17,2015).”
There were reasons that need to be known regarding SIBI implementation. Juniati Effendi (2015) informed that SIBI was a language created by people who aren’t deaf and SIBI is complicated because it uses grammar which taken from the spoken Indonesian language. Therefore, SIBI was a government project as Juniati Effendi (2015) said. Hence, SIBI has not been agreed by someone who has used that language which was not helping them for reaching literacy skill level as hearing people. In addition, SIBI has not involved the expression which is important to show which answer or question is.
Although BISINDO and SIBI has related with deaf people in Indonesia but it is a huge difference for being an appropriate language for the deaf people. The BISINDO has been developed by Laboratory of Sign Language Research-University of Indonesia which is currently on progress and already launched two book of Sign Languages such as Jakarta Sign Language and Yogyakarta Sign Language. On the contrary, SIBI has documented any signs which modified American Sign Language with prefix and suffix and launched a book with title Kamus Sistem Isyarat Bahasa Indonesia or Dictionary of Indonesian Sign Language System. According to Juniati Effendi (2014) that BISINDO is quite different from the government-approved Sistem Isyarat Bahasa Indonesia (SIBI) or Indonesian Sign Language System).
The effects of dual sign languages conflicts that impacts to deaf people whom are acquiring language. After a certain period of time, the students experienced difficulties understanding SIBI’s language concept, because they feel that the language isn’t applicable in their daily lives and interaction. (Juniati Effendi, 2014) In addition, when they were making SIBI, they didn’t research about SIBI implementation which could be applied in schools for the deaf. Afterwards, Juniati Effendi (2014) says,” There are many who are confused, especially because BISINDO doesn’t use the same grammatical structure as Bahasa Indonesia: SPOK (Subject, Predicate, Object, Keterangan – Information).”
In conclusion, sign languages issues in Indonesia are a problem that has not been solved. However, there is a hope to finish these issues since after election of president last year. Each year, Laboratory of Sign Language Research-University of Indonesia holds a program for sign language teaching candidates as improving the human sources. That program is important to keep sign language as developing language certain in order to break deaf people’s obstacles. In addition, disability organization including deaf also is campaigning about convention of the rights for people with disabilities.

Effendi, Juniati. (2014, October 1). Interview by Muhammad Hilmi [Tape recording]. Supporting BISINDO with Dr. Juniati Effendi. Jakarta. Retrieved from
Palfreyman, Nick. (2011). Variation in Indonesian Sign Language. University of Central Lancashire:UK Retrieved from
The Jakarta Post. (2014). Deaf community’s demands go unheard. Retrieved from
Isma, Silva Tenrisara Pertiwi. (2012). Signing Varieties in Jakarta and Yogyakarta: Dialects or Separate Languages? The Chinese University of Hong Kong: Hong Kong Retrieved from

Hurlbut, Hope M. (2014). The Signed Language of Indonesia: An Enigma. SIL International.

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