“I woke up one morning and everything was quiet.”
Angkie Yudistia still remembers that moment 15 years ago when a doctor told her parents that she had lost her hearing.
“The doctor asked me my name, but I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t hear him,” she says.
Angkie was 10 at the time. She refused to transfer to a school for the disabled and completed her studies at a regular school with a hearing aid.
When she finished high school, a doctor advised her to not go to college because the stress could make her hearing worse.
“I told him that not going would be more stressful,” she says.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications and later added a master’s degree in marketing communications from the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta.
When she was 21, Angkie was nominated as the Most Fearless Female by Cosmopolitan Indonesia magazine and was a finalist for West Jakarta’s Abang None pageant.
In December last year, she wrote her first book, “Perempuan Tunarungu Menembus Batas” (“Deaf Woman Breaking Barriers”), based on her life.
After she graduated in 2010, Angkie applied to dozens of companies and was told outright by several that they could not hire someone with a disability.
Twice she was fired by companies, one of which raised concerns that Angkie was unable to answer the phone. This prompted her to do things on her own.
“I met with a former lecturer at LSPR and he urged me to start something on my own,” she says.
That led to Thisable Enterprise, a foundation that links corporate social responsibility with programs aimed at people with disabilities.
“We do workshops and training with client companies,” Angkie says. “We want them to see that disabled people aren’t different from the able-bodied, and to not hesitate to hire someone with a disability.”
Her preparations for setting up the enterprise included taking part in training courses on disabilities, held by the United Nations and the European Union.
The enterprise runs social campaigns, one of which is called Pita Biru (Blue Ribbon), where Angkie uses her Twitter and Facebook accounts to disseminate information about people living with disabilities.
“We want to raise awareness that disabled people are part of the future too,” she says.
When she started the campaign, Angkie says she had zero followers on Twitter and zero friends on Facebook. Now she has more than 5,000 on each account.
“I believe this shows how people’s awareness has grown,” she says. “It’s true that Jakarta is not in the national top five when it comes to the number of people with disabilities. It’s also a city that’s so busy that it can easily overwhelm a disabled person.
“But that doesn’t mean they’re not here.”