Children at school.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
While there is an improvement in how Israeli society perceives people with cognitive disabilities, there is still a prominent belief that this group should live their lives within frameworks separate from the rest of the population, according to AKIM, the National Organization for Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.
Those conclusions were presented in the Knesset this week by Akim CEO Sigal Peretz-Yahalomi and chairman Ami Ayalon in the organization’s fifth index of Israeli society’s attitude toward the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
“There is a clear trend in which the public is getting closer to people with cognitive disabilities, is less afraid of them and is developing positive feelings towards them,” said Peretz-Yahalomi of the report’s findings.
“At the same time, the public’s attitude towards them is still paternalistic and diminishes them. The approach that sees them as equal human beings has not yet been internalized. People with disabilities have the right to make their voices heard, to decide how they want to spend their salaries, control their lives and be part of their community.”
According to the survey, there has been an improvement over the years in most components of Israeli attitudes toward this population group.
The fifth annual index found that only 5% of the population were afraid of people with cognitive disabilities, as opposed to 11% in the first index. Similarly, only 13% of respondents said they believed people with intellectual disabilities were dangerous to others, down from 22% in the first index.
However, at the same time, 36% of the population believed that people with cognitive disabilities need to work only in a separate and protected framework and 26% reported feeling that people with cognitive disabilities need to live in separate frameworks.
Additionally, 11% of Israelis believed people with cognitive disabilities need to be placed in entirely separate frameworks and completely distanced from the general population.
The report also found that 46% of Israelis thought that people with intellectual disabilities should not have the right to make their own decisions regarding their finances, while one-third of respondents said they should also not be allowed to make their own decisions regarding medical care.
“Inclusion of people with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities, is essential for the existence of an ethical Israeli society,” said Ayalon.
“An analysis of the findings of AKIM’s 5th index shows that about one-third of the public personally knows someone with a cognitive disability, and accordingly their views are more positive,” he said. “So long as this acquaintance expands, fewer people will think that people with intellectual disabilities should be closed off and separated.”
The survey was conducted by the Panorama Markets research institute via phone questionnaire among 653 respondents aged 18 and above representative of Israeli society.