Yuval Wagner, Founder and President of Access Israel, was awarded an International Award in New York
Yuval Wagner, Founder and President of Access Israel, was awarded the International Henry Viscardi Achievement Award in New York
Out of hundreds of candidates, Yuval Wagner, President and Founder of Access Israel, and 8 other nominees from around the world, won the prestigious Henry Viscardi Achievement Award in the U.S. The award is bestowed upon international leaders who act to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by shaping positions, raising awareness and introducing far-reaching initiatives.
The Award, considered among the world’s most prestigious prizes in recognition of personal achievements, was awarded in New York on December 4th, in the presence of Dani Dayan, Israel’s Consul General in New York. The timing is not coincidental and the award is being granted on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The Award goes to Yuval for 'Access Israel' activities toward promoting accessibility, generating positive sympathy, raising awareness and thus improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Yuval is the first Israeli to receive this prestigious recognition.
“I, together with the Access Israel team, work hard to promote accessibility with no awards in mind, yet this recognition of our achievements is touching and motivating. I was especially surprised that we won the award, as we did not submit our candidacy. We will continue to invest the energy and creativity required to ensure that people with disabilities can live in dignity, equality and maximum independence despite and regardless of their disability.”
As of late 2017, Israel is a world leader in the field. We have advanced accessibility legislation and we are members of an international treating for the promotion of rights of people with disabilities.
The organization has been operating since 1999 – 18 years – and we have accessibility legislation since 2005 – 12 years, as compared to the U.S., where legislation was passed 25 years ago.
In Israel, we act on three main levels:
This year, we launched a breakthrough and innovative global initiative of making Israel a world leader in the field of accessibility in the digital age.
Dani Dayan, Israel’s Consul General in New York:
“Yuval Wagner’s efforts to promote accessibility are among the most significant in Israeli society. The State of Israel has passed laws to integrate accessibility and Yuval saw to their implementation. Yuval has rendered Israel more accessible for people with disabilities and has made us a better society”.
About the winner:
Wagner began his military career as a fighter helicopter pilot in the IAF. A helicopter accident on 18 March 1987 changed his life dramatically. From being a young IAF pilot, he is now paralyzed from the neck down, restricted to a wheelchair.
The IAF chose not to discharge Yuval from the military, despite his severe disability, and offered that he change his profession and become a computer programmer – and so he did. Yuval never stopped moving forward. He continued to initiate, develop and manage multiple projects for the military while studying toward a degree in business administration. After 31 years of service in the IAF, in September 2014, Yuval was discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1998, when Yuval felt that the issue of accessibility in Israel was under severe distress, he acted to establish Access Israel, which was launched at the Presidential Residence in June 1999 and which has since been operating to promote accessibility and the integration of disabled people and their families in Israeli society in a dignified, equal and independent manner.
Led by Wagner, Access Israel has recorded many achievements relating to accessibility and people with disabilities - promoting accessibility legislation in the Knesset, encouraging employment for people with disabilities, promoting accessible technologies, educating thousands of children and youth on the issue of accessibility and accepting others, enabling accessibility in many organizations and companies, handling accessibility complaints, establishing an internet portal in three languages, providing information to assist people with disability and professionals in the field and more.
Henry Viscardi was well renowned in the U.S. as a leader in promoting the rights and employment of people with disabilities. He served as an advisor on disability to eight U.S. presidents. He founded the Viscardi Center – a non-profit organization for the empowerment of people with disabilities and their transformation into leaders.