Course participants during a study tour in Ariel Sharon Park southeast of Tel Aviv, March 19, 2018.
(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL)
Twenty six tour guides have graduated from Yad Sarah’s first course on how to guide populations with special needs around the country. Certificates were awarded to graduates at a festive ceremony attended by Rabbi Uri Lupolianski, the founder and president of the Yad Sarah volunteer organization; its director-general Moshe Cohen; and Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi.
The curriculum for the unique course was developed by Ahuva Zaken, a former deputy director-general for standardization, operations and quality of service at the ministry who now volunteers for Yad Sarah. “There are quite a few accessories and technological means that enable accessible tours,” noted Zaken.
Yad Sarah has more than 100 branches around the country and has extensive experience in the field of guided tours and special needs of tourists to Israel. Each month, a group of volunteers take people with disabilities, including some in wheelchairs, as part of the organization’s “Mangishi Derech” program.
In addition, the tourism department in Yad Sarah’s public relations division provides a variety of services for tourists with disabilities who plan to visit Israel. The services include transportation services from Ben-Gurion Airport and throughout the visit, providing medical equipment and facilities at the hotel or guest houses and advice on accessible travel sites.
At the ceremony held at the Yad Sarah House in Jerusalem, Lupolianski welcomed the course graduates as mentors of social involvement, noting that caring for those with disabilities is a guarantee of being a united people.
Halevi added that apart from the social issue, there is an economic issue, since there is much tourism potential among people with disabilities in Israel and around the world.