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Close to 18 percent of the Israeli public thinks that people with disabilities are â€œannoying and a danger to society,â€ according to a new survey released ahead of the International Day to Advance the Rights of Disabled People.
While 69% of the population believes disabled citizens should be entitled to special discounts and exemptions, only 59% also believes they should be favored by affirmative action policies.
The poll of 500 Israeli Jews over the age of 18 was conducted in October by the Geocartographia Institute in preparation for a Justice Ministry conference on helping the disabled population that will take place Wednesday and Thursday in Herzliya.
The telephone questionnaire asked whether people were familiar with recently passed legislation requiring that public places become handicapped accessible over the next several years. Currently, only 5% of such places are.
The same number, 5%, of those polled described themselves as disabled. According to Handicap International, there are 600 million disabled people worldwide, or roughly 10% of the global population.
The survey of Israelis found that two-thirds of the population knows or comes into contact with disabled people, one third through family acquaintance, and a quarter each through friendships and work, the remainder through other channels such as the army.
Most people, 85%, knows someone with a physical disability. The survey found that 30% know someone who is blind and 25% knows someone who is deaf. One fifth knows someone with a mental disability.
Only 57% of the public thinks disabled people can start a family and 56% say they are capable of studying in the regular school system.
â€œThe results concretize that much of Israeli society still has a patronizing and charitable attitude toward people with disabilities,â€ said Dina Feldman, the commissioner for equal rights of people with disabilities. â€œThere is still a fairly large group of people in the Israeli public who are prisoners to an intolerable stigma towards people with disabilities.â€