Introduction / History
The Deaf are found fairly evenly distributed throughout the country, except that there is a small village on Bali with about 25 Deaf in a population of 300-400 people. The country of Indonesia is an island nation about the same size from east to west as the United States. There are only 79 Deaf schools for a potential population of 100,000 to 300,000 students. The largest school has less than 1000 students. Rich people's Deaf children can go to hearing schools, but without interpretation. Only 2/3 of the provinces have schools for the Deaf, meaning that 1/3 of the Deaf children have no access to schooling. Schooling is paid for by the parents.
There are no special subsidies for the Deaf. Until recently sign language was banned in schools, and the children were required to learn to speak. The system used exaggerates the movements of the lips and tongue, so that some hearing people are repulsed by the strange faces the Deaf make in order to produce sounds correctly. There are a few churches with ministry to the Deaf, at least four in the capital, Jakarta, where most of the adult Deaf reside, and one in Bandung (about 60 miles away). There is one Deaf pastor in the country. Apart from him, the Deaf rely on an interpreter to understand the message. None of the interpreters use Indonesian Sign Language, as they were taught to use American Sign Language which seems to be becoming a "holy language". Almost all, if not all, the Christian Deaf are Chinese or mixed with Chinese.
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