Index measures inclusion for kids with disabilities

Shoham is best place for disabled to live, Holon the worst, first-ever “Inclusion Index” finds.

Friendship Park in Ra’anana 390 (photo credit: Erik Sahlin)
Friendship Park in Ra’anana 390
(photo credit: Erik Sahlin)
Shoham is the best place for children with disabilities to find inclusion and acceptance within the education system, according to the findings of the country’s first-ever “Inclusion Index,” aimed at monitoring and ultimately improving how local authorities relate to children and adults with disabilities.
Shared exclusively with The Jerusalem Post Thursday and due to be formally released on Sunday, the index was created by Bizchut, Israel’s human rights center for people with disabilities, in conjunction with the Israel/Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation. It examined whether six municipalities – Shoham, Holon, Nazareth, Dimona, Karmiel and Hod Hasharon – effectively integrated children with disabilities into the local educational system. The index assessed, among other parameters, the educational, social and rights awareness of children with disabilities in each place.
Still in its pilot phase, the index found that Shoham is the most inclusive city overall, with the total number of children with disabilities exercising their right to inclusion in the regular school system greatly surpassing those of the other places. Karmiel and Hod Hasharon came in second and third places respectively, while Nazareth and Dimona had much weaker grades, and Holon came in last.
For this initial round, the municipalities were chosen for evaluation based on their geographical diversity and their representation of the country’s different social economic levels.
“The index proves that equality and inclusion are not only a function of the economic standing of the authority, but also a function of their willingness and commitment to this approach,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
He said one of the biggest surprises was that Karmiel, which does not have the strongest socioeconomic status as compared to the other municipalities, reached second place – while Holon, which is known as the “City of Children,” did not invest enough in inclusion.
Executive Director of Bizchut Esther Sivan also expressed surprise that Holon, which was chosen by the Education Ministry for a pilot project aimed at personalized education services, was at the bottom of the index.
However, she said that the index’s goal was to encourage local authorities to address any lack of inclusion so that children with disabilities will have equal opportunities, and in the future be fully included – socially and economically – in employment and public life.
While this version of the index examined inclusion for children only within the education system and focused only on the efforts of six municipalities, in the future it will be expanded to examine other muncipalities’ welfare efforts, housing, access to transportation, entertainment and employment for both children and adults with disabilities.
The same in-depth parameters used to assess the first batch of six local authorities, including information provided by the municipalities themselves and the Education Ministry, are already being applied to additional municipalities – and those findings are expected to be released this coming September.
A Bizchut spokesman said the six municipalities had received a copy of the index on Thursday and it is hoped they will use the information to improve outreach to their area’s disabled residents.
The full report is available on the organization’s website, he said.