wheelchair 88 224.
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
Visiting Israel in a wheelchair can be a moving experience, but also a harrowing one if not done correctly and planned thoroughly. To minimize the risk of the unexpected, it’s worth utilizing the following resources at the very least:
• Airports Authority – Following the purchase of a ticket, the authority is an essential first stop. So long as they are given at least 48 hours advanced notice, airports provide a variety of services to disabled travelers. Among the most basic are an escort to and from the airplane, and assistance at the arrivals end in picking up the bags and going through customs. A guide for options available to the handicapped tourist is posted on the authority Web site at: http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/he-IL/Airports/BenGurion/InformationforTravelers/GuidetoDisabledPassengers/. In addition, the office of public affairs can be reached at (03) 975-2386.
Please note: Disabled tourists should also contact the airports that they are departing from to ensure equivalent service on that end.• Yad Sarah
– Unless one prefers that his luggage contain all the special equipment needed to facilitate a handicapped trip, contacting Yad Sarah is a must. On its Web site, www.yadsarah.org, an easily navigable list of what’s available on loan can be reviewed (although it may be easier to find that list by typing “Yad Sarah” in Google and clicking on the appropriate link for “equipment”). In addition, a dedicated staff can offer specialized assistance on a range of other questions – from places to stay, to recommended sites – or help address outstanding concerns.
The Yad Sarah National Headquarters can be reached at (02) 644-4444, or by e-mail at [email protected]• Access Israel
– Disabled tourists who opt against an organized tour are advised to visit the Web site of Access Israel at www.aisrael.org. While the site caters to Hebrew speakers, there is a considerable amount of information that has been translated into English. One can find lists of accessible sites and accommodations, as well as helpful information regarding transportation needs. Further, those who would like personalized assistance in planning their trip need only send an e-mail to the staff of the site at [email protected]
, or contact them by phone at (09) 745-1126.• Access Unlimited
– The only
book which specifically details all the areas that are accessible to
disabled tourists in the country was produced by Access Unlimited.
Unfortunately, the latest version, Access Unlimited: Your Guide to
Israel, was printed in 2003. The organization, however, continues to
work tirelessly to collect updated information relevant to handicapped
travelers, and its staff is eager to share that information. Access
Unlimited can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected]
by phone at (02) 566-0180.• Organized Tours
Handicapped or not, many people simply don’t want the hassle of
organizing a trip by themselves. Most professional tour operators will
be more than happy to provide options. It should be noted, however,
that there are very few tour operators with experience in tailoring
disabled-only trips. – M.Z.