Close to a million people of working age in Israel have disabilities, says JDC report

Ahead of International Day for the Rights of People with Disabilities, study shows employees with physical or emotional handicaps earn NIS 1,400 less on average.

Jay Ruderman 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jay Ruderman 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Between 800,000 and 1 million people of prime working age in Israel suffer from disabilities, according to a report by JDC-Israel released on Monday ahead of International Day for the Rights of People with Disabilities on Tuesday.
The study found that the breakdown of disabilities among this population is 17.5 percent physical, 9.2% mental, 4.2% cognitive, 4.2% vision and 3.7% hearing.
In addition, 2.5% of those with disabilities have a learning disability and 2.1% suffer from a chronic illness. According to the report, about 5% of the working-age population in Israel suffers from severe disabilities. Another 11% have moderate disabilities and 5% have light disabilities, which do not disturb their daily activities very much.
“I hope for the day when our society does not need to mark the International Disability Day because people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of our society,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Fund, a partner in the JDC’s program for the integration of people with disabilities into society, Israel Unlimited, said on Monday. “A fully inclusive society is not only a matter of fairness, but will be a better, more just place for all.”
While the rate of people with disabilities in Israel is similar among men and women, it is higher among Arabs (24%) than Jews. The rate of those with severe disabilities is almost double in the Arab sector.
About 220,000 of Israeli children have disabilities, more than half of which are learning and behavioral disabilities.
The study also showed that almost half of people with disabilities in Israel have more than one type of disability, with the most common combination being mental and physical.
The report stated that people with multiple disabilities often struggle to find services adapted to their needs, since most help services provided by the authorities are designed for one type of handicap.
According to the figures, about 80% of people with disabilities in Israel have become disabled between the ages of 18 and 65. People with acquired disabilities, the report indicates, face more difficulties in maximizing their rights and being recognized as disabled by the authorities.
About 60,000 people aged 23-26 have disabilities, representing about 14% of the general population in the same age group in Israel, and 38% of the young people who don’t work or study.
According to the JDCIsrael, young disabled people have special needs in terms of their ability to live independently in the community and their transition from education to the workplace. However, only 10% of them have received vocational training and rehabilitation services in the country.
In terms of benefits from the state, about 22,000 people have received general disability allotments in 2012, the majority of whom have mental disabilities.
Among children with disabilities, about 33,500 have received benefits from the state in 2012, an increase of 10% from the year before.
The report also revealed that about half of people with disabilities in prime working age are employed in Israel, compared to 72% of the general population.
In addition, the average monthly salary of an employee with disabilities is about NIS 1,400 less than that of an employee without disabilities. About 44% of people with disabilities who remain unemployed – more than 200,000 people – expressed the desire to work.
However, the study found that only 5.4% of employers report that they employ people with disabilities. The rate of employment of Jewish men with disabilities is double that of Arab men with disabilities.
When it comes to education, more than half of people with disabilities have not completed a high school matriculation exam, compared to 36% in the general population. Only 58% of them use a computer, compared to 83% in the general population and about 46% don’t know English, compared to only 21% of those without disabilities.
Some 182,000 children recognized by the state as having special needs – 9% of the total child population – studied in the Israeli education system in the 2011-2012 school year.
Among them, 22,000 were enrolled in special education schools.
The figures also showed that people with disabilities spend less time doing activities outside of their homes than people without disabilities.
About half of those with severe disabilities and 35% with moderate disabilities say they experience a strong feeling of loneliness, compared to 20% among people without disabilities.
The JDC report also stated that one of the biggest problems the disabled face in Israel today are the negative attitudes that society expresses towards them.
Stigmas and prejudices hamper the inclusion of people with disabilities in school, in the workplace and in the community in general, the study showed.
These attitudes affect their everyday lives and bring about discrimination and alienation.
The report showed that while most of the public – 86% – say they would agree to live next door to or rent an apartment to a physically disabled person, the percentage is much lower when it comes to a person with autism or mental or cognitive disabilities.
About 18% of Israelis believe that people with disabilities are dangerous for society.