SEMARANG – The KPU actually had a great concern for the voters with disabilities. It was proven by the laws which were made to cover the services for them. Unfortunately, the implementation of this good intention had not been maximal.
This became the background of the research results of the Communication Science UNDIP’s lecturers regarding the disability accessibility to the ICT and their political participation in the 2018 Central Java’s Governor Election. This was also the part of the community service at the Education Foundation for Children with Disabilities, Semarang on Jl. Kh Ahmad Dahlan 4, Pekunden, Central Semarang, Semarang.
The research team of the Department of Communication Science UNDIP, consisting of Dr. Nurul Hasfi, JN Gono, MSi and Wiwid NR assessed that the General Election Commission (KPU) during the 2018 Central Java’s Governor Election did not disseminate the information about the online political participation to those with disabilities. Such as, deaf, blind, disabled and mentally disabled. As a result, they had not received any sufficient information in obtaining their political rights.
The Head of the Research Team, Dr. Nurul Hasfi, asked that it was important for the election organizers to pay attention to the accessibility of those with disabilities to the internet and how their political participation in the cyberspace.
“So far, the law has focused more on the accessibility of the physical facilities, starting from the availability of templates for blind people, disabled access to the polling places and other physical limitations. In fact, the use of the internet technology by those with disabilities is equally important,” he said.
Roemah Difabel said that around 80 percent of its members already had the internet access. Meanwhile, the voters with disabilities in the remote areas had limited access, for example in the Sehati NGO which had admited that only 20 percent of its members had the internet access.
The members of the Wiwid NR Research Team stated that related to internet habits, these diffable people had the same habits as the other Indonesian people. They did like the social media. Such as, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This showed that they actually had the access for the political information exposure, but were still weak in the online political participation.
“The activities in the cyberspace are still limited to the other activities. Such as, business, socializing with friends with disabilities and publication of their activities in the NGOs (Non Government Organizations),” he said.
The expression of the political aspirations had been carried out collectively by the NGOs, while the collective and individual political movements via the internet was still weak.
“This needs to be our common concern because the internet should be an extension of their senses which may be limited,” he added.
Another interesting finding was that even though the KPU had provided a disability-friendly website and the SWARA application, in fact, in the interviews conducted in this study, there were no NGOs and people with disabilities who accessed the socialization media. Indeed, most of them did not know know about the existence of this media.
This was caused by the weak of the socialization of the 2018 Central Java’s Governor Election, especially through the internet media. KPU’s socialization still focused on the using of the traditional methods. Such as, the broadcasting through the radio, television commercials and face-to-face meetings.
“While the general public was flooded with information about the governor election, there were our people who were left behind,” added Gono.
Apart from the diffable voters, it was also caused by the internal factors, namely the trauma of becoming a political commodity.
They got the attantion during the begining of the political events, yet after that they were forgotten.
Meanwhile, the YPAC teacher, Joko Waluyo added, there was a lot of homework that must be done to maximize the internet access in the political process. This was because in the real realm, there were still many problems encountered by those with disabilities. Such as, the negative stereotypes which eventually caused families to perceive that diffables was a disgrace.
The research team hoped that the research results would provide the input to the related parties in improving the internet access for people with disabilities and expand the online political participation and were not limited during the election only.
The parties that had been interviewed in this research include the NGOs concerned with the disabilities in Semarang, Surakarta and Sukoharjo. Such as, Roemah Difabel, Pertuni, Sahabat Mata, Sehati, PPDI, Bina Akses, and the election organizers. Such as, the Central Java’d KPU and the Bawaslu of Surakarta and students with disabilities and teachers in the YPAC environment.