Desa Kolok and its Deaf people

lcj-16I Gede Marsaja

LCJ: Special Edition: Indigneous Sign Languages, 16, pp. 56-65

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Marsaja, I.G. (2015). Desa Kolok and its Deaf people. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Indigenous Sign Languages], 16, 56-65. DOI:



Desa Kolok (literally means Deaf village) is a small village located in North Bali, Indonesia. With regard to deafness, this village is remarkably exceptional compared to other villages in the area and, in fact, across the whole island of Bali. While all villages in the surrounding area have between two to nine deaf people, this village has 44 deaf people out of a population of 2,200. This is a rate of 2% and it is extraordinarily high compared to other pockets of deafness across the world (see Kakumasu, 1968; Groce, 1985; Washabaugh, 1986; Okyere and Addo, 1994; Johnson, 1994). Moreover, the existence of Deaf people in this village has occurred over several generations resulting in the whole population of the village being well adapted to the situation. The Deaf people here belong to, not only certain families, but the whole population of the village because all ten clan-groups that make up the village community have been found to have Deaf people. Geographical and social isolation combined with intermarriage patterns involving members of close families appear to be the most responsible factors for the high level of deafness incidence in this village. According to a scientific study, the high incidence of deafness in Desa Kolok is caused by the spread of a non-syndromic congenital recessive deafness gene called ‘DFNB3’ (Liang et al., 1998). Due to the spread of this deafness gene, the village has always had Deaf for many generations. 


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