Report: Gaps between disabled and general population expanding in Israel

A study ranks Israel's cities in terms of their accessibility and care for disabled residents and visitors.

December 3, 2016 17:33

Nazareth . (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There was a decline in the rate of employment among the disabled in 2015, as people with disabilities earn less and “feel poorer,” according to a new study released by the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Justice Ministry.

The study, conducted by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute and based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, was released to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed annually on December 3.

According to the report there are 1.41 million people with disabilities living in Israel today, accounting for some 17% of the population.

Of these, some 17% are children under the age of 17, 50% (some 704,000) are working age adults and some 33% are over 65.

The study found that in 2015 there was a 4% increase in the unemployment of disabled persons; with only 51% of working aged people with disabilities employed, compared with 55% in 2014.
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The study concluded that the employment gap between the general population and the disabled is expanding rather than decreasing.

“The data on the situation of persons with disabilities show that we have a long road ahead until we reach full equality of people with disabilities,” Avrami Torem, commissioner for equal rights of people with disabilities, said of the findings.

Furthermore, the report found that the monthly household income of a person with disabilities is some 25% less than that of a person without. Some 56% of the disabled who are employed earn less than NIS 6,000 per month, while among the general population 45% of those employed earn this amount.

“In this regard, it is not surprising that people with disabilities also feel poorer,” the study noted, with 26% of disabled people stating that they “feel poor” compared to 11% among the general population.

There is also a significant gap with regard to education, the report noted. Only 19% of people with disabilities have an academic degree, compared to 33% among the general population.

Torem noted that, even in 2016, there are still gaps in employment rates, loneliness and the feeling of discrimination among people with disabilities.

“All of us have an obligation to provide a significant change of public spaces, to provide opportunities and accessibility of services in order to reach a situation whereby people with disabilities participate in all spheres of life,” he said.

With regard to accessibility, another study also published to mark the international day ranked the 20 largest cities in Israel according to their degree of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

According to the accessibility index, Haifa is the most accessible city in Israel with a grade of 9.3 (out of 10) on the index scale.

The city stood out for the municipality’s design, suited to those with disabilities with lowered reception counters, accessible signs, and courteous service, the report noted.

Public transport in Haifa also received high ranking due to bus stops around town allowing those in wheelchairs to board buses without assistance, and outside loudspeakers that announce when a bus is due and on what route.

Furthermore, persons with disabilities living in Haifa spend more time outside of the house than those in the other 19 cities, the findings indicated.

The study was conducted by Das International under Dr. Avi Griffle for the 2016 Accessibility and Participation Index. This is a partnership project of the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Ted Arison Family Foundation dedicated to mapping the situation of local councils in Israel in terms of their accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The index drew upon a field check carried out by a three-member team of persons with mobility, visual, and hearing disabilities and a coordinator who escorted them.

The team checked the degree of accessibility to various services in the city, including theaters, central bus stations, public transport, public parks, accessibility to buildings for people in wheelchairs, and playground equipment for children with disabilities.

In addition, the index drew upon a survey conducted among some 30 people with disabilities aged 18-65 in each of the 20 largest cities, which exposed the degree of involvement and social participation among persons with disabilities in their cities.

Oren Ganor, a sightless team member, noted, “It’s very easy to spot the cities where accessibility was forced by law and those where it was carried out with an understanding that persons with disabilities deserve services equal to those received by any other resident.

“Laws and regulations are important, but no less important on the ground are the good will and awareness of those involved in providing suitable solutions for all kinds of disabilities,” he said.

Hod Hasharon and Jerusalem took second and third place, with a score of 8.7 and 8.5, respectively.

The most prominent fact about Hod Hasharon was that residents of the city with disabilities enjoy the highest frequency of participation in social events such as plays, exhibitions, and visits to public parks and swimming pools.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem received high ranking for the accessibility of the municipality’s website for the vision impaired.

The three lowest-ranking cities were Nazareth (1.8), Tiberius (2.6) and Petah Tikva (3).

Nazareth was noted for the high degree of loneliness felt by persons with disabilities.

In terms of physical accessibility, parking spots for those with disabilities were not to be found at the public theater, bus stops were not suited to those in wheelchairs and no restrooms were available for those with disabilities at the central bus station.

The municipality building was rated last in terms of its accessibility as well, the report found.

“The index proves that local councils taking accessibility seriously have placed the issue high on their priority list and see it as a way of life in terms of budget, planning, and values – and the residents appreciate and recognize this,” said Shira Ruderman, CEO of the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Jason Arison, chairman of the Ted Arison Family Foundation, noted that the findings indicated a “trend toward a positive change” with regard to municipal accessibility, but said that there is “still a long way to go and much to do in terms of assisting persons with disabilities and promoting a society based on respect and equality.”

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