Access Israel Held "Accessible Businesses" Conference with Minister of Finance Yair Lapid
Access Israel and the Chamber Of Commerce held an "Accessibility in Businesses" Conference on Thursday, the 13th of February, with Israel's Minister of Finance Yair Lapid. The conference speakers dealt with the subject of raising awareness about accessibility for people with disabilities and the recent passed laws for accessible service in organizations and businesses that have come into effect during the end of 2013. An "Award for an Accessible Business" was given to IKEA Israel during the conference for successfully implementing all of the required parameters in the Regulations for Accessible Service in a Commercial Organization. This is the first professional chain in Israel to receive the title in this field.
The conference took place at IKEA's national training center in Netanya. Around 150 CEOs and Vice Presidents of organizations and companies that lead the Israeli economy were invited, in order to expose them and to raise their awareness of accessibility for people with disabilities. Israel's Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, came into the conference hall and started his speech when the room was pitch black and the participants were wearing blindfolds. This was done in order to create a similar experience to how a person who is blind or has limited vision feels on a daily basis. The Minister said in his speech that "The true darkness belongs to the people who cannot see the people with disabilities, or chooses not to. Someone who does not create their business into a place that opens its doors to anyone and everyone. Anyone who excludes or ignores people, just because they have some sort of disability…people with disabilities have the basic right to live in a world where all doors are open to them, and it our basic obligation to remove all of the obstacles in their way."
Karin Elharar, an Israeli MK also gave a speech in which she spoke about the importance and power of consumers with disabilities in the market and about their employment in businesses. Yuval Wagner, Chairman of Access Israel, gave a speech and talked about the professional aspects of creating Accessiblity. Att. Shosh Rabinovitch, Legal Advisor to the Chamber of Commerce gave a speech about the legal aspects of Accessibility and of business accessibility schedules. Shlomo Gabay, CEO of IKEA talked about the process of making IKEA accessible up until the moment they received their "Award For an Accessible Business" from Access Israel.
The Minister took part of the ceremony in which the "Award For an Accessible Business" was granted to IKEA, for being the first organization in Israel in which the structure of the building, terms of access and the services provided are accessible to all types of disabilities (sensory and physical) and is in full compliance with the updated Accessibility Legislations. This award is only the beginning of a large-scale process that IKEA has embedded in all of their facilities and that creates a large amount of accessible services like. This includes training for all company employees, including an activity in which the participants are challenged with day to day experiences that people with sensory and physical disabilities confront, and a thorough explanation of all the facilities that are accessible in IKEA stores: an accessible website for a variety of populations with disabilities like visual impairments, disabled hands, epilepsy and more, placing aiding accessories in the store such as electric scooters and wheelchairs, a voice guidance system installation, accessible cashier stands, special sound system for the hearing impaired, a leading stripe floor design for the visually impaired, and providing access to the National service center.
Yuval Wagner, Chairman of Access Israel: "IKEA is the first organization in retail that is accessible for 100% of its potential clients. They have started the process for accessibility years before the legislations and regulations came into the law around a month ago. The goal is to create a situation in which the organization will be accessible in all its services and interfaces for 100% of its clients, and especially for clients with disabilities (Physical disability, sensory disability- Sight/Hearing, cognitive and psychological). It is our honor to present this award for an accessible organization to IKEA for being a role model in terms of accessibility and in terms of treating customers with disabilities as having equal rights as customers."
Shlomo Gabay, CEO of IKEA Israel: " We are happy receive the award for "Accessible Organization" from Access Israel. After working on making the Netanya, Rishon Letzion and Kiryat Atta stores accessible I am proud to say that we have widened our horizons and started working for the community in order to make all of our organization's services accessible for all populations, from our website, customer service, to physical accessories in the store to aid those who need it. This award, for us, means another course in which we can achieve IKEA's vision to make life better for as many people as possible and we are very happy for the opportunity to do this even before a law was passed to promote this subject. As the first organization in retail to make their facilities accessible for the population, I call other CEOs to act in a similar fashion, change their business outlook and implement and start an accessibility processes. Appealing to more potential target audiences, in this case people with disabilities, leads to a successful income and social image. I am confident that this step will create a model for even other IKEA branches around the world "
Att. Shosh Rabinovitch, Director of the Legal Bureau Chamber of Commerce: Gave her blessing to Shlomi Bracha and IKEA Israel for their "Accessible Organization" award and noted that there is a great importance in making Israel accessible to people with disabilities, including the business sector. The association works to implement accessibility processes in small and large businesses alike and creates awareness for accessibility in business, trade and services, and how that will lead to a better commercial climate. The fact that the conference was attended by many people of the senior Israeli business community has a tremendous significance because the moment senior management is aware of the importance of the subject, it will be easier to implement in organizations and business companies and therefore employees. Rabinowitz who lectures on the subject of legislation and enforcement said that despite the costs associated with accessibility of business, it is a positive and important to the business and will therefore be open to new audiences. But along with this- in order to achieve true success they must consider the capabilities of businesses, particularly small and medium businesses, to create accessibility in their businesses."
We would like to thank all that participated in making this conference a success:
To IKEA for their warm and affable hosting and to the staff that helped with the organization.
To The Chamber of Commerce and their staff that helped with organizing the conference.
Minister Yair Lapid and his staff.
Access Israel's staff and volunteers.
photos by Yuval Moshkovitz