NGO: Israel businesses inaccessible to disabled

Access Israel says cinemas, restaurants, pubs, sports stadiums and synagogues don't comply with accessibility regulations.

Handicapped women 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Handicapped women 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Data released on Wednesday by NGO Access Israel revealed that the majority of consumer businesses in Israel remain inaccessible for the disabled.
The statistics, which are the result of a study conducted in the past year, showed that 65 percent of cinemas, 70% of pubs and bars, 80% of restaurants and 92% of public swimming pools in Israel are totally inaccessible to disabled individuals. The same goes for most sports stadiums and more than half the synagogues in the country.
Access Israel released the numbers at a conference held in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, discussing accessibility to different businesses for the disabled, who make up over 17% of Israel’s population, about half a million of whom suffer from severe handicaps.
Representatives of various large companies participated in the conference, including the owner of the Fattal hotel chain and the CEO of IKEA Israel.
“Accessibility is more of a social justice issue than the price of cottage cheese, because without accessibility, some people can’t even get to the cottage cheese,” said Yuval Wagner, chairman of Access Israel.
In addition to discussing regulations that Israeli consumer businesses must comply with, the conference addressed the possible benefits of accessibility – such as increasing the sales of a particular business – since it allows the company to appeal to a community that represents a significant part of Israel’s population.
“Anyone who deals with retail and accessibility knows that if a business wants to increase its sales, it should invest in accessibility. People with disabilities are very important consumers,” Wagner said.
Yonal Fogel, CEO of the Israeli oil company Paz, explained that “providing accessibility for the handicapped is not only humane but also carries a very significant business potential. It is necessary and important for consumer businesses in Israel to be accessible to all customers. Private businesses pay attention to this cause and it’s a shame that the government allows itself to fall behind on this issue, especially in legislation. I hope that the new government as well as the new Knesset will address the issue properly.”