Education for Accessibility- Working With Children and Teens for an Equal and Accessible Future
|Att. Michal Rimon- CEO of Access Israel|
Access Israel has been working for over a decade for the advancement of disabled people in Israel's society. The goal is to do this until people with disabilities have equal rights, gain respect and have maximum independence. We, among other things, work to raise the Israeli people's awareness to the important subject of accessibility.
Unfortunately, the widespread approach in society towards people with disability is prevalently negative. It does not in any way accept people with disabilities, therefore making them a minority group. Many disabled people are forced to deal with prejudice, stereotypes, and negative standings and views against them in their day to day life. Professional literature suggests that giving people this knowledge can create a change in our society.
We believe that the most effective way to make a change is by making advances in the current Israeli education system to raise awareness, while focusing on children and teens. Access Israel has established an Education Department that deals with raising awareness for equality and accessibility in Israeli children and teens.
Children and teens in schools and youth movements.
Please note: Instructional activities for awareness and Accessible Service providing for adults, businesses, organizations, municipalities, and governmental offices take place under Access Israel's Training Center.
Objectives of the Different Activities
Access Israel has developed specialized educational programs for different ages and educational facilities.
Our different programs deal with the following challenges:
1. Meeting people with different disabilities and therefore breaking the "glass wall"
2. Breaking well-known stigmas and stereotypes
3. Creating awareness and an understanding of true equality
4. Learning what Accessibility is- Physical access, accessible service providing and what it all means to a person with disabilities
5. Turning the future generation that has participated in our program into "socially active ambassadors" for the promotion of Accessibility.
6. Environmental awareness and seeing the human in front of you- providing helpful tools for environmental and social awareness in confronting people with disabilities in general, and confronting people with disabilities within their own classroom in particular.
Our organization believes that it is not enough to sit through a lecture about accessibility and its benefits to our society. Making a genuine change in society is a lot more complicated than that. That is why our programs include versatile experiences that come as close as possible to the world of people with disabilities so that children and teens can learn, feel and experience disability for themselves. Only then can we achieve a change in the way people in our society view people with disabilities around them.
Fundamental principles in our educational programs:
1. Only With Experience Comes Real Understanding
These are the activities that simulate how it feels to have a disability. Only until you feel and experience 'what it feels like to be with a disability' then you can begin to understand and act differently.
2. Breaking the Glass Wall- Meeting the Person Behind the Disability
These are the intimate meetings with counselors and their disabilities. Our trained counselors share their experiences with the students- the struggles, the successes and Accessibility as a tool to change reality. The participants are given a chance to get to know the person behind the disability. We encourage the students to ask questions they would not necessarily feel comfortable asking or never had the chance to ask a person with disabilities so that the glass wall between them and the person with the disability will shatter.
3. The Wave Effect
In all of our programs, we provide activities in which not only the participants are the ones who are affected, but also the social circles surrounding them- school, classmates, friends, family and neighbors. We encourage children to pass their new found knowledge and responsibility on and beyond.