For people with disabilities, local community life can feel exclusive—like they are outsiders looking in. There’s rarely one simple reason for this. Rather, communities in Israel may be inaccessible due to stigmas towards people with disabilities, lack of disability education or even discrimination, let alone the parts of each community that are physically inaccessible. Israel Unlimited introduced Accessible Communities to tackle these issues on a hyper-local level, creating communities across Israel that are open and welcoming to people with disabilities.
Today, in more than 50 cities across Israel, Accessible Communities is changing the day-to-day realities for people with disabilities. In each location, a local coordinator is installed to learn the needs of people with disabilities. The coordinator serves as a loudspeaker—thanks to partnerships with the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, the Israel Community Centers Association and members of each municipality, the voices of the disabled are being heard.
In Petakh Tikvah, for example, the Accessible Communities coordinator partnered with local schools to bring students and parents around the city to determine and document areas that were not accessible to people with disabilities. By including community members in these efforts, local awareness of accessibility issues skyrockets, and problems get solved quicker. As Accessible Communities grows, the dream of communities across Israel being open and educated about disability issues is steadily becoming a reality.
For questions, contact Yakir Pnini-Mandel at YakirP@jdc.org.