According our Social Service Department (2005) there are approximately 1.800.000 individuals who are blind.
Thanks to Dr. Ch. A. Westhoff, a Dutch Eye Doctor, Indonesians started to have familiarity with Braille system. On July 1901, Dr. Westhoff together with his colleagues (RAA Soeria Atmaja, Van Ungen, Benthe Van den Brg) also begun The Foundation for the Improvement of the Faith of the Blind. Dr. Westhoff was also the first Director of Koningin Wilhelmina Gastuis Oogliders (now as RSMC: Cicendo Eye Hospital) since January 03, 1909.
After several decades, Indonesia has several Braille Unit Productions. Some other schools, especially for students who are blind and regular universities started to provide assistive technology to accommodate their students’ special needs. Indonesia University, for instance, has Braille Printer & Scanner.
While following a national seminar which is organized by National Federation for Welfare of Indonesian Deaf and Santi Rama Foundation, I had an opportunity to visit one of Braille Unit Productions in Jakarta.
This Unit has several rooms:
- Entry Data & Illustration Room
- Editing & Printing Room
- Technical Room
- Finishing Room (Cutting, Embossing, Binding, Labeling)
- Proofreading & Quality Control
One big challenge to face with is the human resources. For instance, in 2007, Larry Campbell, a great supporter for the establishment ON-NET (Indonesia e-Braille Community), mentioned that Indonesia is probably among the greatest number of Braille Printers owners. However, the total production isn’t inline with the number of its Braille Centers. According to Bambang Basuki, the Executive Director of Mitra Netra Foundation, only 13 centers out of 49 centers (9 main centers and 40 sub-centers) which already produced books.
We hope our government and regular elementary schools and universities giving more and more attention towards students with special needs, and more people respect individuals with different abilities.