Bengkala, a small town in Bali, has a high number of deaf inhabitants. While the norm is four deaf people for every 3000, the hearing impaired ratio in Bengkala is 44 for 3003 residents. It is believed the deafness is due to a recessed gene inherited from forefathers. What makes Bengkala unique is a special sign language, which every inhabitant learns, to make the deaf feel included.
The town collaborated to develop Kata Kolok, a sign language different from global ones and known only by the residents. The inhabitants of Bengkala believe everyone should be treated equally, regardless of physical impairments.
Kata Kolok is the native language of Bengkala. Children learn it from grades one till six. Kata Kolok is spoken by 80% of the population from common people to farmers, teachers, and the town mayor.
WHY THE NEED FOR KATA KOLOK?
The Bengkala community follows the guiding principle of equality. Every resident knows the language so the hearing-impaired can also communicate and are not left out of conversations. Most importantly, every resident displays kindness to others and consider themselves lucky to be inhabitants of their town. They regard it a privilege to help their hearing-impaired neighbours. Despite the high ratio of deaf people. The inhabitants of Bengkala behave as if it does not exist.
It is rare to find such thoughtfulness and kindness. Today’s world needs more such people because mindful of other humans matters and makes them feel a part of society.