Over 600,000 people with disabilities, including physical, sensory (blind, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired), mental and psychological live in Israel. The current lack of accessibility in Israel causes great suffering to all these people and their families. Simple tasks become impossible and humiliating due to lack of appropriate infrastructure. This was the impetus for Access Israel and its activities. Yuval Wagner, an Israeli Air Force combat pilot, founded it in 1999 with the aim to make Israel an accessible place for all its citizens. Wagner was injured in a helicopter crash, which left him a quadriplegic. To achieve this mission the organization works with government agencies and corporations to design and build facilities that take into account the specialized needs of the disabled. To achieve this goal Access Israel established the Forum for Accessibility Promoting Businesses in Israel, where members work to encourage their companies to make accessibility a basic feature.
Access Israel serves also as an information center, providing essential information for people with disabilities and their families. Its online database, Access Key, includes reliable and up-to-date information on accessibility to over 10,000 public and private facilities in Israel, including public transportation. Each year more than 400,000 people access the database. They also work to increase awareness. Such projects include educational programs, where children participate in “Accessible Stops,” each aimed at exposing participants to a different disability. The Accessible Tastes initiative allows participants to experience what a disabled person goes through when they dine in a restaurant. Despite limited resources, Access Israel has now become the leading accessibility promoter in the country.
Web site: http://www.aisrael.org/eng/