A study concluding that the majority of the nation’s citizens find it difficult to interact with the intellectually disabled determined that Jerusalem – which has the highest such population – is leading the country in the struggle to integrate the at-risk group into mainstream society.

The results of the study, conducted by the B.I. and Lucille Cohen Institute at Tel Aviv University and released by AKIM, a national association representing intellectually disabled children and adults, painted a grim picture of the public’s understanding of the mentally disabled.

According to its findings, 67 percent of respondents said that they did not know how to talk to a person with intellectual disabilities, while 52% said that they would not want to meet anyone with such disabilities and special needs.

More than 50% of respondents said they believed that people with intellectual disabilities have no right to reproduce, 37% said they should be denied voting rights, and 100% said there was a far greater bias against people with intellectual disabilities than those with physical disabilities.

AKIM, which works to change attitudes by annually measuring societal levels of inclusion of intellectually disabled children and adults, noted that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had been exemplary in making the capital a leader in their struggle.

To engender greater support and acceptance for this at-risk population, Barkat said the capital continued to allocate resources for daycare centers, community living facilities, job training services and expanded school programs.

“It is our duty to work to integrate people with disabilities in all aspects of life and work in Jerusalem,” said Barkat. “We are committed to it.”

AKIM, which operates in 77 cities and towns throughout Israel, also named Ashdod and Dimona as leading cities in the fight against discrimination of the intellectually disabled by working to integrate them into the mainstream community.

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