Helping, empowering others: The true face of the Abraham Accords - opinion

Thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the US can not only export but help implement much-needed know-how in empowering and integrating people with disabilities.

POST-ABRAHAM Accords, 70,000 Israelis flooded Dubai. (photo credit: AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS)
POST-ABRAHAM Accords, 70,000 Israelis flooded Dubai.
(photo credit: AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS)
 The Abraham Accords has been a game changing gift for the region and much has been spoken and written about the economic potential of the accords, its security implications and the realignment of the Middle East. However, there is another aspect to the normalization that attracts less attention but is of universal significance and it is simply its potential to improve people's lives on a humanitarian level.  
We were invited by members of the Royal Family in the UAE to help develop a policy that would empower and integrate people with disabilities. They celebrated with us the global work that we had done thus far and shared the message with the entire Arab world.
The government of the UAE has already made a stellar start by renaming people of disabilities people of determination, already recognizing the super strength one needs to muster, just to get through the day, when you have a disability. There is enormous desire on the part of the government of the UAE to bring best practices to improve the lives for their people of determination, and thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the US can not only export but help implement this much-needed know-how. 
As with many traditional communities the first challenge is the Arab world in general is breaking the stigma of disabilities. We believe that a three pronged approach is the best way to achieve this; employment and competitive sport where there is visibility and integration, and assistive technologies to facilitate navigating through life. 
In Michigan, in a bipartisan project I led with the former lt.-gov. Brian Calley we implemented a program called the Hidden Talents Tour, which sought to integrate people in the workplace by working closely with employers and civil society. This program helped to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities on a state wide level via a public private partnership. 
Likewise, Access Israel is an organization that specializes in job placement working with companies advocating for the value of hiring people with disabilities, explaining the technical requirements of how to do so and placing a full time coordinator to help with the logistics or any other issues that may arise. Employers feel confident when someone else can solve challenges and people with disabilities usually turn out to be an extremely productive part of the workforce. 
The Shalva National Center, located in the heart of Jerusalem is the world’s leading center for people with disabilities. Serving some 2,000 participants weekly from birth to adulthood Shalva is sharing its knowledge and award winning programs with organizations globally and has already formed a special relationship with the Ministry of Community Development in the UAE. 
Sports has always been a way of building endurance, team work and confidence. For people with disabilities, these are life enhancing if not life changing skills. Running clubs for people of determination are springing up in the US and Israel every day. We believe that working with the Arab world on these types of models will have a significant impact on how disabled people see themselves and others see this community.
There is a growing market globally for assistive technologies and the United Nations goes as far as saying that people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world. The WHO believes that more than two billion people will need at least one assistive technology product by 2030. Many experts believe that we are talking about a $30 billion market and Israel is positioned to be at the center of research and development in this area. The Israeli government is incentivizing the industry with government support “Assistive Technology for the Disabled Incentive Program,” from the Israel Innovation Authority with almost $250,000 in grants for technologies that serve groups with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities. 
The Abraham Accords today provides a unique opportunity to share the most impactful of US best practices established in Michigan, and Israeli innovation and know how. Our experience in the UAE and the consequent enthusiasm from the Arab world has the potential to transform the region, change perceptions and inspire a kinder society.

The Hon. Richard Bernstein is the first blind person to be elected state wide as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Fleur Hassan Nahoum is deputy mayor of Jerusalem and the co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council and Gulf-Israel Women's Forum.