For the second time: 150 representatives from 50 countries participated (May 26th, 2020) in a webinar discussing the effects of the COVID-19 virus on the life of people with disabilities

Screenshot of Webinar participants

The "Access Israel" organization which manages a large number of international ties for the subjects of equality, accessibility, and the inclusivity of people with disabilities, presented the idea of a series of international online meetings – a second meeting in the series.

150 representatives from 50 countries participated in the unique second webinar which took place at Tuesday , May 26th 2020, led by the "Access Israel" organization on the subject of international cooperation for the assistance of people with disabilities and the elderly. These are challenging times to us all but even more so for people with disabilities, let alone ones with more extreme cases of disability.

Many of the people with disabilities are at risk because of their medical condition and therefore are required to remain in their homes and maintain a state of social isolation. As an example people with severe disabilities that are alone at home and without assistance are worried about how they will be able to acquire food, medicine, medical equipment, and even help cleaning, let alone the continuation of constant medical treatment. People with hearing disabilities are worried about how people would be able to communicate with them, phone calls are not an option and masks prevent them from reading lips. And blind people are concerned that if they receive a delivery at the entrance of their homes they would not be able to find it on their own, and in general they are unsure about how to keep up to date with the restrictions and instructions from the prime ministers and the different government offices. And how would students with disabilities continue to study from home without the technological accessibility of the video calls, and what would happen if they would have to be hospitalized – what is the accessibility situation there?

These times are also an example of "Beautiful Israel" different organizations and authorities around the world and, of course, in Israel are coming up with projects with a large impact on the abilities of people with disabilities and the elderly to survive these difficult times. The Access Israel organization which manages a large number of international ties for the subjects of equality, accessibility, and the inclusivity of people with disabilities, presented the idea of a series of international online meetings.

In the webinar were presented international projects that promote accessibility and are relevant to these tough times..

The schedule included:

Greetings and opening statements:

Martin Essel –Founder of Zero Project

Yuval Wagner – President and Founder of Access Israel

Keynote Speaker: US Congressman Ted Deutch

A general overview of the research of the COVID-19 virus - Christine Hemphill, Managing Director, UK, Open Inclusion

Increasing the capabilities of people with disabilities to reduce the spread of-     COVID-19 – Jean Pierre Nteziryayo, HVP Gatagara, Rwanda

Education during COVID-19 – Kim Beer, Director, Public Policy, (NPRC), Christopher Reeve Foundation, USA

An accessible news coverage: by use of Linguistic Simplification - Prof. Shira Yalon -Chamovitz, Dean of Students, Ono Academic College; Head of the Israeli Institute for Cognitive Accessibility of the Ami Association and the Academic Collage.

Safe banking during COVID-19: Klaus Höckner, Managing Director of the Austrian Association supporting the blind and visually impaired

Review of Google's offerings for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) - Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility Programs, Google, USA

Closing Remarks - Caroline Casey, Founder of Valuable 500, Ireland

Summary: Michal Rimon, CEO Access Israel

Chairman of Access Israel Yuval Wagner, Urged all partners and countries to use this opportunity of exit strategies – to make sure that the situations of people with disabilities are researched and taken care of. Yuval said that in times where we all need to receive services remotely through the internet and digital devices – we must make sure that the country and the other relevant parties are committed to providing digital accessibility early on in the planning phases.

According to Michal Rimon, CEO of Access Israel: "one of the insights learned from the recent events is just how much borders, especially during COVID-19, are blurry. The virus has no borders and each country has in it people from the world's largest minority, people with disabilities and of course the elderly, and we see how every country tackles similar challenges in regards to this group and different kinds of initiatives are developed, some of which can be of interest and assist different countries and therefore shorten procedures and raise the quality of life. "This is the core idea behind our international cooperation" explains Michal Rimon , CEO of Access Israel, "We have created a network of experts, accessibility organizations, associations, and key personalities around the world who share our belief and our mission in the promotion of accessibility and inclusivity on a national and international levels. We managed to create a close connection with people that turned into friends, rising to the cause and the result is the webinar we held on Thursday – among the participants was felt real excitement to see so many representatives from different countries who are taking their time, listening, sharing and offering their experience to the promotion of the global handling on how to treat people with disabilities and the elderly during COVID-19.       


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