YES Programs



YES Alumni Grant: Disability to The Next Ability (DNA)

A Classroom Of Students Face Forward While Trainers Teach Virtually On Screen

By Arina Pradhita (YES 2009-2010, Indonesia, placed by AFS in North Aurora, IL)

My community service experience during my exchange year in Illinois was one of the most impactful aspects of participating on the YES program. I volunteered at a food bank, a house renovation, a breast cancer marathon, and other events. I discovered what makes me most fulfilled is being actively involved in improving society. I continued volunteering during college and eventually decided to pursue a career in the development sector. During the past five years, I’ve worked to support employment for people with disabilities. 

Trainer Is Speaking While A Sign Language Interpreter Translates Beside Her

Employment for PWDs is relatively new in Indonesia. However, I have witnessed progress throughout the years as more companies are interested in hiring people with disabilities. The increasing number of jobs available for PWDs has shifted the focus to better jobs, thus a better livelihood, for PWDs. However, many people with disabilities still face employment difficulties, usually due to lack of skills and readiness to work. As a result, many PWDs work unskilled jobs and are unable to advance their career.

To have a successful career, we all need to learn work readiness skills before entering the workforce. In January 2022, a teacher from a school for students with disabilities, SLBN 2 Jakarta, contacted us at Difalink, which is an NGO I currently work at that focuses on connecting people with disabilities to work opportunities. School staff understood that they play a vital role in preparing students for the next phase of their lives: employment. However, the school’s staff had little knowledge of what’s happening in the working world or how to prepare their students, so they reached out in hopes of collaborating on a work readiness program. That’s how the Disabilities to the Next Ability (DNA) program was created, and we applied for a YES Alumni Grant to support the program.

A Student Is In The Front Of The Class Asking A Question Into The Microphone

The DNA program was primarily conducted online and focused on introducing soft skills needed to be successful in the workplace to 25 twelfth grade students and recent graduates. Most of the participants were deaf or had an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program also aimed to support the school in incorporating job readiness into its existing curriculum, therefore five teachers also participated so they are prepared to introduce the new content into their lessons.

The training sessions were delivered by Difalink in seven modules, which covered topics including general knowledge of the working world, CV writing, interview skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, making the most of an internship, and searching for jobs online. The program also aimed to prepare school staff to interact with company representatives directly, therefore we invited six companies to hold sessions to explain different types of jobs in their sector. 

A Student Is Writing His Cv During The How To Write A Good Cv Session

The DNA program was the first step for this school to understand how to develop and deliver job readiness lessons in their curriculum. In the coming years, the teachers are planning to teach these skills and blend it into existing subjects. I am happy the DNA program will not only be of one-time benefit but will be sustainable knowledge for the teachers and the school to use again and again.

Vice Principal Ibu Eny Pujiwati said, “This is such a great program. Please continue to collaborate with other special needs schools. They will definitely find this program useful.”

The success of DNA has made us at Difalink confident in continuing the program. We are currently developing a second phase of the program, collaborating with universities and schools for PWDs. We want to support and foster better and wider opportunities for people with disabilities in the future by getting them ready for work so they may seize opportunities and have successful careers.

Students Were Having An Work Interview Practice During Our Visit To The School

I would like to thank my team at Difalink and my fellow alum Heni Maghfiroh, who have worked diligently on this program. Many thanks for the support from our main collaborator, SLBN 2 Jakarta. I would also link to thank the representatives of, Alfamart, Avery Dennison,, Six Senses Uluwatu, and Think.Web for sharing their business knowledge with the students. This program would not be possible without support from the YES Program and AFS Bina Antarbudaya. Last but not least, I would like to sincerely thank the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for sponsoring DNA through the YES Alumni Grants program.