DSQ > Fall 2007, Volume 27, No.4

"Explode the mythology of people with disabilities as passive non persons and confirm for us that people can and do make their own history and that the struggle of survival is a triumph of life." Charlton, 1998

"This to me is disability culture in action: the improvisatory, creative living of disability as an art of paying attention, because we must, and because we can, and because there is pleasure in that openness to the connections between our bodies and our world." Kuppers, 2007


The decades of unsuccessful efforts to legislate and implement legislation in the area of accessibility for persons with disabilities in Israel have shown that in order to promote a social, geographical, ecological revolution in the lives of persons with disabilities there is a need for a relevant, attractive conception and language that will enable the Israeli society to make a paradigm shift in this matter. This article introduces the concept of "environmental justice", which was defined in the 1998 Aarhus Convention, as a meta-conception that might be helpful to advance its three main components pertaining to disability: 1) the right to environmental accessibility; 2) the right to information about citizens' rights; and 3) the right to take part in the decision-making process. This article describes how the three components of the "environmental justice" concept are presented in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in the local legislation and implementation thereof in Israel, with an emphasis on the decisive contribution of the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758 — 1998. This article shows that Israeli society has already acknowledged the importance of the concept in legislation and through active participation by policy makers, organizations, and planning professionals a new vision of an accessible reality is being formed. However, Israel is still in the initial stages of implementation. Key elements and factors that will increase the probability of making this environmental-justice revolution happen include: the existence of a vision and conception defined by international conventions; relevant new and comprehensive legislation and action plans; an equal Rights language and a Commission to absorb it; and an active leadership of persons with disabilities, field and academic committed professionals.

What is "Environmental Justice"?

As others have noted (Quinn and Degener, 2002; Lawson, 2005), for many years "disability" was addressed in Israel only in the context of welfare or medicine, with little reference being made to the concepts of human rights, inclusion, participation and equality. However, during the last three decades there has been an ongoing effort to promote two main paradigm shifts in the concept of "disability." First, during the 1970s and 1980s there was a paradigm shift from a medical to a social model which has been led, mainly, by organizations of persons with mobility disabilities. Second, since the end of the 1990s — and unlike in other countries in which the disability rights movement has played a crucial role in framing their issues as civil rights for all people with disabilities (Barnartt & Scotch, 2001) — the paradigm shift to human rights was led mainly by lawyers from the civil society and the government with partial success (Rimmerman and Herr, 2004). Difficulties have also appeared in the area of accessibility, which demands an environmental paradigm shift from focusing on the individual to focusing on the environment (Barile,2003). Only since 1998, due to the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law, 5758 — 1998, has the term "disability" been acknowledged by the State as a manifestation of human rights in the psycho-social and environmental areas, based upon the principle of equal, non-discriminating accessibility.

Until 1998, the Israeli society had witnessed decades of unsuccessful efforts to focus on environmental issues regarding persons with disabilities, which were expressed by patchwork legislation and almost zero awareness and implementation in the area of accessibility. Israel has been an ableist society, characterized by what Ramot (2007) describes as a lack of humanism and by what Hahn (1994; 2003) points to as a general lack of forethought by urban planners, architects, and public officials, who usually regulate space and resources within communities, to create accessible spaces for all (Gleeson, 1996; 1999; 2000). The Commission team realized that to use only the "social justice" concept was not good enough. There was a need to assimilate the concept of "environmental justice" as well, which might serve as an ideological frame of reference for the necessary environmental paradigm shift. This shift can also serve as a linguistic bridge between geographers, urban, open space and infrastructure planners and ecological activists, who have never acknowledged any planning responsibility towards citizens with disabilities in Israel. It can also connect the relevant policy makers, helping professionals and civil society members who have never spoken the combined language of ecology and human rights. "Barrier free space", "universal design", "inclusive design", etc. are strategic concepts which can facilitate the practical implementation of the "environmental justice" concept.

The concept of "environmental justice" was at the heart of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, which was initiated by the European Socioeconomic Commission and signed on 25 June 1998 in Aarhus, Denmark. The Convention dealt with the right to access information, the right of the public to participate in decision-making, and access to justice in ecological-environmental matters. For the first time, the Convention linked environmental rights to human rights and the obligation to future generations. In effect, the Convention aimed to promote the democratization of the decision-making process and obligates the party States to ensure the active participation of as many stakeholders as possible in the discussions on environmental planning. This kind of equal involvement maximizes the protection of their rights and minimizes illiteracy (Hood, 1998). Such involvement can also be defined as "participatory democracy", "E-democracy", "Deliberative democracy", "Direct democracy" or "Inclusive democracy"1

"Environmental Justice" is defined as "fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies" (EPA, 20072 ). Another definition stipulates: "focus on environmental obstacles, segregation and inequality in planning, policy formation and implementation that create discrimination between persons or groups from lower economic, political, or social status" (Taylor, 2000 p. 536). This definition is very close to Hahn's "minority group model of disability" that perceives disability as a result of an inappropriate match between the individual and the environment. Hahn (1994) believes, like many others, that if a particular environment offered all of the resources required by a particular individual to perform a task or activity, no disability would exist. A similar approach is expressed by a group of disability geographers, a branch in social geography, that studies human phenomena through a spatial or area-oriented lens, using an enriched spatial-analytic vocabulary, such as, proximity, locality, access, etc. (Dorn and Metzel, 2001). The spirit of environmental justice is expressed, perhaps in the most humanistic way, as "the area of disability culture as it appears in disability nature activities and poetry, in which sensation lived through activity and language turns to environment with deep pleasure, as all humans do, using the body and sensations as anchoring points and deeply rich sites" (Kuppers, 2007, p. 31).

On a more practical level, the "environmental justice" meta-conception includes three main components: 1) the right to an accessible environment; 2) the right to available information; and 3) the right to participate in economic and political decision-making.

The aim of this article is to describe how the concept of "environmental justice" and its components are presented in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter: The Convention) and in the local legislation and implementation in Israel, with an emphasis on the decisive contribution of the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758 — 1998 (hereinafter: The Equal Rights Law) to this matter.

Environmental Justice and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 13, 2006 and signed by the first 81 States, including Israel, on March 30, 2007. The Convention is directed, first and foremost, to draw attention to the fact that persons with disabilities are bearers of human rights and not merely recipients of welfare or charity. It also aims to increase visibility of the issue of disability in the human rights arena and to elucidate the exact obligations of party States and of the civil society in the field of disability in order to achieve the goal of full participation by persons with disabilities in society without discrimination and on the basis of equal rights (Quinn and Degener, 2002; Lawson, 2005). In this manner, the Convention reflects a "social human rights" model that focuses on lifting the environmental and attitude barriers which bar persons with disabilities from full inclusion and equal participation in all aspects of community life (Justesen and Justesen, 2007). The Convention also serves as a powerful tool to embrace the concept of "environmental justice" for persons with disabilities by means of its primary elements (Feldman, 2007). These elements are as follows:

  1. The recognition of human-environment interaction, namely, between the impairment (physical, emotional, mental, or sensory) and the variety of environmental obstructions which prevent the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society.
  2. The striving for universal design and inclusive design by means of increasing environmental accessibility and reasonable adaptations.
  3. The importance it accords to accessible information.
  4. The importance it accords the active participation of persons with disabilities in political decision-making.

On a more specific level, the Convention relates to each of the three components of the "environmental justice" concept, as follows:

The right to an accessible environment

The commitment to promote environmental accessibility appears in the Convention in article 9. The article obligates the party States to act as follows:

  1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities accessibility, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
    1. buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
    2. information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
  2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to:
    1. Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
    2. Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
    3. Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
    4. Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
    5. Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
    6. Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their accessibility to information;
    7. Promote accessibility for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
    8. Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessibility information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
The right to available and accessible information

Article 9 of the Convention places great emphasis on the accessibility to information but the importance of information also appears in Article 21, which deals with the right to freedom of expression and opinion and access to information. Under this article:

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:

  1. Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessibility formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;
  2. Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessibility means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
  3. Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
  4. Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;
  5. Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.
The right to participate in political decision-making

The right to participate in the political decision-making process appears in Article 4 of the Convention in the general obligations and obligates the States to act as follows:

In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.

Where does Israel stand in relation to this social, environmental vision? Does Israel have the ideological, legislative, and other infrastructure needed to implement the "environmental justice" principles with and for persons with disabilities?

Environmental Justice and the Israeli Situation


More than 7 million citizens inhabit Israel today. 13% of all children are recognized as having 'special needs', 8% of them need socio-educational support services or medical and para medical treatment on a regular basis. Half of the 8% are children with learning/behavioral disabilities, 16% have chronic diseases, 14% have physical disabilities, 11% have sensory disabilities, and 6% have intellectual disabilities (Naon, Morgenstein, Shimel, and Rivlis, 2000). According to the Social Survey carried out by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2005, 55% of persons in the age of 65 and above define themselves as having disabilities, nearly half of them severe disabilities. In the Social Surveys carried out in 2002-2005, the prevalence of disabilities in the working-age general population (20-64) has been estimated as slightly over 18%. Of those, 7% are persons who reported having a severe disability and 11.2% a moderate one (Feldman and Ben Moshe, 2006). This rate falls within the range of Western countries such as England, Germany, Denmark and Norway and is almost double the rate of severe disability and two-thirds more than the moderate disability rate in the US (Ben Moshe and Feldman, 2007). Using different definitions and/or data sources might affect the accuracy of this international comparison.

The types of disabilities that Israeli adults cope with are very diverse. National surveys do not yet provide information on disabilities by type. However, a partial picture may be gleaned from the National Insurance Institute report for 2005 which relates to adults from the age of 18 to retirement who receive General Disability Allowance. More than 30% of the total are recognized as having mental disabilities, followed by those with internal diseases (25%), neuro-motor (25%), intellectual (11%), visual (6%) and auditory impairments (2%).

It is noted that the approximate 188,000 General Disability Allowance recipients are only part of the number of persons with disabilities recognized as disabled by various Israel government ministries. In addition to these, there are some 50,000 recognized by the Ministry of Defense as disabled veterans and another 52,000 recognized by the Ministry of Finance as Nazi persecution victims (Feldman and Ben Moshe, 2007).

Despite the huge financial and human resources invested to ensure social rights by supplying medical care, social security and means of rehabilitation — persons with disabilities in Israel still face personal and social obstacles which prevent them from enjoying equal opportunities and full integration within Israeli society. The main reason for this is the low level of accessibility in the public domain which still leaves persons with disabilities far behind the high level of their personal achievements and capabilities (State Comptroller's report, 2002, Feldman, 2007).

The right to an accessible environment

Thirty-three years ago, Israel witnessed the first link between environmental planning and persons with disabilities. In 1972, the Minister of the Interior, who is in charge of implementing the Planning and Building Law, 5725 — 1965, added a chapter to the Planning and Building Regulations that requires special accommodations for persons with disabilities in public buildings.

Since then, there have been numerous enactments and amendments that reflect the complexity of the subject but none has yielded "environmental justice" due to the fact that this patchwork legislation lacks enforcement mechanisms or means to increase public awareness. In addition, it relates only to some aspects of life, some environments and some persons with disabilities, mainly to those with mobility impairments, who were not actively involved in the process of legislation. Awareness and commitment have not been internalized by the authorities (State Comptroller's Report, 2002), planning professionals, academics (Feldman, Lahav, Malul and Silovisky, 2007), or the disabled community, the majority of whom have been focusing on social security issues rather than human rights (Rimmerman and Herr, 2004). As a result, very little, if any, of this legislation has been implemented in practice (State Comptroller's Report, 2002).

A legal breakthrough in this area took place in the Supreme Court in 1996 in the case of a schoolchild named Shachar Botzer, who relied on a wheelchair for mobility and who sued the Maccabim-Reut Local Council. The local Council refused to arrange access for Shahar to public buildings in his community, particularly to his school. Supreme Court judge Aharon Barak reasoned, for the first time in the Israeli courts, that the right of persons with disabilities to full integration into society should be considered a human rights issue (Ophir and Ohrenstein, 2001; Admon, 2007; Oren and Dagan, 2007).

At the same time, the nongovernmental organization, "Bizchut," initiated the enactment of the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, 5755 — 1998 (hereinafter: The Equal Rights Law). Its first four chapters were enacted as a result of the work of a public committee headed by Dr. Israel Katz, which was appointed to propose comprehensive legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities in Israel (1997). This law is the first human rights law in Israel that tries to combine two legal approaches. One approach prohibits discrimination against a person on grounds of disability as does most of the European Community. It mandates accommodations and accessibility as integral parts of the prohibition of discrimination, approves affirmative action, including in the private sector, and includes the families as beneficiaries of said prohibition. The other approach incorporated in the statute, used in Scandinavia, North and South America, and the Oceanic countries, strives to achieve equality by meeting special needs. The assumption is that reliance on one approach alone would be insufficient to ensure real equality of opportunity (Ophir and Orenstein, 2001). The Israeli statute also incorporates the spirit of the American statute, which emphasizes human rights, and the Swedish law (LSS), which emphasizes the right to services (Ziv, 1998).

The Equal Rights Law is intended to ensure the commitment of Israeli society to promote equal rights for persons with disabilities by eliminating discrimination, promoting equality by means of accommodations and affirmative action, ensuring reasonable accommodations to the special needs of persons with disabilities and active involvement in decision-making. Until today only five chapters of the Law have been enacted: the chapter on principles, the chapter on the right to employment, the chapter on the right to accessible public transportation, the chapter on establishing an Equal Rights Commission and its Advisory Committee, and since March 2005, the right to general accessibility. The other proposed chapters are included in the Proposed Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) (Housing in the Community and Personal Assistance, Culture, Leisure and Sport, Education and Knowledge, Legal System, Special Needs and Information) Bill, 5761 — 2000. The commitment of the State of Israel to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will require many amendments to this Bill.

In the next section, I explore the ways in which each of the chapters of the Equal Rights Law relates to the concept of "environmental justice."

Equal Rights Law and "Environmental Justice"

Chapter 1: General Principles

The level of accessibility of public services to persons with disabilities in Israel has been very low (State Comptroller's Report, 2002; Hiss-Yuness, Fridman and Herkovitz, 2003). This paucity led to a clear statement in the Law about the social obligation to ensure environmental accessibility as appears in the statute's chapter on principles (section 6A). Due to the previous tendency of the public services to ignore the accessibility needs of their clients with disabilities, extending even to earmarked services such as health (Hahn, 2003) and welfare, all of the public services are obligated:

  1. to respect human dignity and liberty and protect each person's privacy;
  2. to provide the services to persons with disabilities along with the general public, while making necessary accommodations; and
  3. to ensure the appropriate quality of services which must be given within a reasonable time and at a reasonable distance from the person's residence.

More detailed obligations in this matter are included in the new Accessibility Chapter which was enacted in March 2005 and will be described in detail later on.

Chapter 2: The Right to Employment

In 1988, the Israeli legislature enacted the general Equal Opportunity at Work Law but persons with disabilities were not included in it. At that time public opinion in regards to employment was characterized by low expectations, believing that persons with disabilities prefer to rely on social security pensions rather than work (Commission Report, 2005). Throughout the years, the unemployment rate among persons with disabilities in Israel has been consistently greater than among the general population (Feldman and Ben Moshe, 2006) and it has ranged from 5% higher in the case of veterans with disabilities (15% compared to 10% in the general population), to 25% for persons with disabilities due to work accidents, (Feldman and Yahalom, 2004), and more than 75% above the average among persons who are recognized as "general" disabled by the Israel National Insurance Institute (Shtrosberg, Naon, Bar, and Morgenstein, 2004). However, a report published by the Commission, based on social surveys carried out in 2002-2005 by the Central Bureau of Statistics has shown an increase of 4.5% in the rate of employment among persons with disabilities in Israel. Many see this positive trend as resulting from a growing understanding by potential employees and employers that the change in this matter will come through personal and public fighting against stigma and by improving the physical, procedural and technological accessibility both to, and of, the workplace (Ben Moshe and Feldman, 2007).

The transformation from welfare to an open-market mentality was manifested by the transfer of the responsibility to implement the employment chapter from the Ministry of Welfare to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The Law requires the promotion of the equal opportunity of persons with disabilities in the free market, the prohibition of disability-based discrimination and the supply of reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

The Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (State Participation in Funding Accommodations), 5761 — 2006, contain an additional definition of accommodations as a basis for State participation in funding accommodations for workers with disabilities in the private sector. They state:

"Accommodations"…: Including physical accommodations, whether in real estate or movable property, and including devices, aids, installations, computer hardware and software, alterations or installations on real estate and in buildings, and every accessory or means needed for an employee with disabilities in his place of work, necessitated by his special needs, for performance of the work and for daily functioning in the workplace in a similar fashion as all other workers; as well as translation and transcription services needed for an employee with a hearing-loss disability of at least 50 decibels in the good ear, for the purpose of his initial absorption in the workplace, … and also training for the employer of an employee with intellectual, mental or cognitive disabilities, or for a person on his behalf, the employee to be present as necessary, given by an instructor specializing in the field of the disability, during the first six months of the employee's work….

The right for cost share may be extended for five years, unless more accommodations are needed for the functioning of the employee at work.

Another very important environmental accommodation for workers with mobility disabilities is reserved parking space at the workplace. Under the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (Priority in Parking Spaces at Places of Work), 5761 — 2001, the employer shall allocate an "accessible parking space" which is located as close as possible to an accessible entrance to the workplace and situated so as to enable an employee with a mobility disability to travel to and from the workplace independently, in a dignified and safe manner. The employer must take reasonable measures to ensure that the parking spaces are used solely by employees with a mobility disability, indicate to which spaces they are entitled under these regulations, including suitable marking or signage, and must request the local traffic sign authority to place sign C-43 as defined in Traffic (Establishment of Signs) Notice, 5730 — 1970. This right shall not be contingent upon the status or position of the worker in the workplace.

Chapter 3: The Right to Accessible Public Transportation

Public transportation constitutes a basic commodity for all (Hay and Trinder, 1991; Hay, 1995), especially for those who do not have a car or cannot drive, among them many persons with severe disabilities and the elderly (Asidon, 2005). In June 1977, the government and the National Insurance Institute signed the Mobility Benefit Agreement (hereinafter, "Mobility Agreement"). The Mobility Agreement provides a person who is recognized by the National Insurance Institute as "limited in mobility" with a variety of benefits, among them the right to a mobility allowance and a "standing loan" to pay taxes on a car and to purchase adaptive accessories for it. A resident of Israel can be recognized as limited in mobility provided s/he meets two conditions: s/he is between the age of three and sixty-five; and a medical committee or medical appeals committee, operating under the Mobility Agreement, determines that s/he has a degree of limitation of mobility in the lower limbs according to the list of impairments. Under this arrangement the National Insurance Institute paid the sum of NIS 673 million in 2004 to 23,500 persons with mobility disabilities (State Comptroller's Report, 2002).

But having a car is not enough. Available public parking is also needed. Under the Parking for Persons with Disabilities Law, 5754 — 1993, people recognized by the transportation authorities are entitled to a special sticker that allows them to park in reserved areas or in another manner which does not significantly obstruct traffic. An integral part of the right to park is also legislated in the Planning and Building Law, Part 8 — which obligates making special arrangements for persons with disabilities in a public building, and parking-place signs (Haimowitz, 1991). However, these arrangements relate to a small group of persons who are severely limited in mobility and own an automobile. It does not meet the transportation needs of the majority of persons with disabilities.

For this reason, the Equal Rights Law has a special chapter dealing with the right to accessible public transportation. The statute states that:

a person with a disability is entitled to public-transportation services that are suitable and accessible for his use, reasonably frequent, including accessibility to stations and ports, to which public-transportation services, such as buses on inner-city routes, trains, air transport, and ships intended for the public, operate, as well as accommodations for persons with a sensory disability in inter-city buses, pursuant to conditions and rules to be promulgated.

The Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (Arrangement of Accessibility of Public-Transportation Services), 5763 — 2003, specify the actions that are required to ensure accessibility to buses, aircraft, ships, trains, areas in which they operate,and their facilities, infrastructure, environment, and services, including personal assistance and provision of information to persons with mobility disabilities, who have a sight or hearing impairment.

An additional requirement for accessible public transportation and its related facilities is included in the chapter on general accessibility. In addition, the statute specifies that everyone who deals with passenger-car rental, who owns or possesses at least 100 vehicles, shall maintain at least two vehicles that are adapted to suit a driver with disabilities, and at least two additional vehicles that are adapted to transport persons with a disability; and that anyone who rents buses or other vehicles shall provide vehicles for rental that are accessible to persons with disabilities at the same fee charged for a vehicle that is not accessible in the above manner.

To encourage the operation of accessible taxis, the Law specifies tax reductions for obtaining a license to operate a taxi which is adapted to transport persons with disabilities, as well as the conditions and rules for giving the reductions and a variety of reduced rates that take into account, inter alia, the type of accommodations installed in the taxi, or the size of the population of persons with disabilities that the taxi is expected to serve.

However, in order to be able to enjoy accessible public transportation, the area around the station has to be accessible as well. Part 9 of the new Accessibility Chapter deals with road accessibility. It states:

Intersections and sidewalks shall be planned, built and adapted in a way that enables a person with a disability reasonable accessibility from the sidewalk to the road, from the parking space to the sidewalk, on the sidewalk and while crossing the road in accordance with the provisions under this part, including removal of nuisances and obstacles that infringe the right of a person with a disability to accessibility as referred to in this section and including installation of traffic lights that are adapted to the needs of persons with vision disabilities.

As a result of making transportation in Israel accessible to all, there has been a sharp increase in the use of trains and planes, while the use of buses has not increased significantly. This difference can be explained by the greater accessibility of train stations and airports in comparison to bus stations.

In addition to regulations related to physical and technological infrastructure, driver instruction is also crucial. Currently, two organizations are acting in this matter: "Bizchut" and "the Israel Accessibility Center" had developed guidelines and conducted pioneer training for public bus drivers. Comprehensive and systematic instructions and training on providing accessible public transportation is now mandated by Law and guidelines will be prepared by the Commission, progressively, with the promulgation of the relevant secondary legislation.

Chapter 4: The Right to General Accessibility

A survey conducted by Geocartografia Institute on the behalf of the Commission in October 2005, showed that the majority of the public (67%) knew or had met persons with disabilities. Conspicuous among this majority were members of the religious and ultra-Orthodox sector; less evident were persons who earn wages of more than NIS 10,000 a month and new immigrants. They encountered persons with disabilities through family ties (about one-third), friends (26%), or colleagues at work (26%). The least widespread reasons were acquaintance in public places (18%), in the neighborhood (10%), in school (6%), or in the army (3%). These figures show a high degree of what Quinn and Degener (2002) would define as "invisibility" of persons with disabilities in the public domain in Israel.

Another survey, regarding the level of accessibility of schools, medical clinics, banks, and malls, conducted by the Szold Institute on behalf of the Commission in 2003, showed that most public sites were not accessible to persons with physical disabilities (95.1 percent); most schools and medical clinics were not accessible to persons with visual disabilities as well (90.8% and 90%, respectively), a small proportion of the banks were accessible to persons with visual disabilities (15.7%), but none of the malls were. Moreover, most of the banks and medical clinics were not accessible for persons with a hearing disability (98.6% and 97.4%, respectively) (His-Yunis, Friedman and Herkowitz, 2003). These findings are consistent with the State Comptroller's report (2002), which described a very dismal socio-environmental situation regarding the accessibility of the State of Israel to persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.

On March 2005, the path breaking "Accessibility Chapter" of the Equal Rights Law was enacted. This chapter deals with accessibility for all disabilities to new and existing buildings, open spaces, infrastructure, public places, products, and services, which are provided to the public either by the public or the private sectors.

In this chapter, "accessibility" is defined as:

the opportunity to reach a place, move about and orient oneself therein, use and benefit from a service, supply of a product, receive information that is given or produced in a place or service framework or in connection thereto, use of facilities, and participation in programs and activities being held therein, all in an equal, dignified, independent and safe manner.

The Accessibility Chapter states that it is prohibited to stipulate extraneous conditions that prevent or limit the use of a public service or a public place, or benefit from a public service or supply of a product, directly or indirectly. Also, a service or product shall not be supplied to a person with a disability in a lesser way than generally provided. In concrete terms, the chapter ensures that a person with disabilities, and their family, will be able to benefit from a fully accessible environment. The Law must be implemented within a time span of six years in the business sector and twelve years in the public one. The difference in time schedules is due to the right of the private sector to receive an exemption in some cases, for which the public sector is not eligible.

However, the value of legislation, as enlightened as it is, is determined by the level of its implementation and assimilation by the authorities, the academic world and the public in everyday life (Feldman, Dnieli Lahav and Haimovitz, 2007). In order to increase the probability that it will be put into practice, a law has to be known to the public, well budgeted, and implemented by a reliable authority that will distribute information and ensure enforcement (Berg, 2007). The Israeli legislature used a number of measures to ensure all of the above. The Equal Rights Law defines the position of a compulsory "accessibility coordinator," who must be appointed in any place employing more than 25 employees, which supplies services to the public. The coordinator's task is to promote accessibility and to provide information to the public on accessibility relating to the place in which he works.

The Law also approved the establishment of a civil and criminal enforcement system in the Commission, in addition to requiring supervision and enforcement by other government ministries. In order to ensure the professionalization in the area of accessibility the Law defines two new licensed areas of expertise. The first is in the area of accessibility to public buildings, open spaces and infrastructure which will be open to architects, engineers and practical engineers. The second deals with accessible services, which will be open to designers, health, welfare, education and technology professionals. People certified in either track will have to undergo special academic training and be recognized by the registrars in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. These accessibility experts will provide consultations on the accessibility of sites, in general, and more specifically at the stage of the approval by the Local Committee of building plans and business licenses, and in order to file requests for participation in costs of accommodations for private sector workplaces in which persons with disabilities are employed.

Since the new professionalization process involves training thousands of professionals, the State hopes that it will influence the universities to be more involved in the promotion of human rights for persons with disabilities, in general, and the right to accessibility, in particular. At the same time, there are also negotiations on creating disabilities studies programs and courses which are crucial for developing a local, critical, and authentic body of knowledge, teaching and research facilities and a self-advocating academic staff capable of representing the human rights approach (Barnartt and Scotch, 2001).

Much of this work has been covered by the media, especially during the enactment of the Accessibility Chapter. The above survey, that was conducted by Geocartografia Institute, on behalf of the Commission, during October 2005, showed that 43% of the general public were familiar with the Equal Rights Law (50% men versus 36% women), 50% of them knew that it deals with promoting accessibility, 46% — with promoting employment, and 13% — with preventing discrimination. Additionally, there was broad involvement by representatives of all Ministries in the process of secondary legislation, led by the Commission, and especially the Ministries of Justice, Education, Health, Interior, Transportation, Defense, Tourism, etc. In addition hundreds of representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities, municipalities and the private sector (Feldman, Danieli, Lahav, Haimovitz, 2007; Tamir, 2007), planning professionals and activists from the civil society (Ramot, 2007) were involved in this process. The process itself enabled a large number of stakeholders to learn the matter in detail, and add their input to the formulation of an environmentally-just vision of Israeli society.

The Right to Available and Accessible Information

The second component of the "environmental justice" concept is the availability and accessibility of information to the public about environmental and economic issues which are crucial to advocacy in general, (Churchman, 2005) and to the area of disability in particular (Barile, 2003; Putnam, 2005) . It includes getting formal facts and data, collected and developed by experts (Lightfoot, Pappas and Chit, 2003; Burns and Hoagwood, 2005; Enders and Brandt, 2007), as well as informal information that is accrued by personal or collective experience (Kitchin, 2001). Importance is also given to being aware of the meanings of the information and to the obvious and the hidden rules of the policy-shaping dynamic (De-Shalit, 2004).

In Israel, the obligation of the authorities to supply information to the public is regulated in section 9(b) of the Israeli Freedom of Information Law, 5758 — 1998. It grants the public the right to inspect materials and information which are in the hands of the authorities, including studying, viewing, listening, copying, photocopying, obtaining computer output or obtaining information in any other manner based on the type of information and how it is kept. This law is based upon the principle that information is held by the authority in trust for the public. However, the statute contains many exceptions which enable the authorities to deny a request for information, so it is quite rare that a person requests information and even rarer that he receives it (Churchman, 2005). The amendments to the Administration Arrangements (Decisions and Reasons) Law, 5718 — 1958, states that a public servant who receives a request in writing shall respond to the request expeditiously, and no later than forty-five days from the day the request is received. These procedures inform the public authorities about significant and specific problems and complaints that concern the public. However, they do not enable interactive discussion and are more suitable for solving a specific problem that requires governmental handling.

The procedures often block relevant information at critical times. It is also common for the authorities to gather or publish information, which is of little interest to anyone except academic researchers, or transmitted in a complicated way, which requires legal, economic, or other kinds of expertise. Representatives of the civil society do not always have the resources to retain experts to handle absorption, processing, and response to the published information. Conversely, civil society keeps and accumulates much knowledge and information that can balance the vagueness of the governmental data. Their opinion is often received by the Parliament, the courts, and the State Comptroller as extremely credible and is used often in policy debates and policy formation.

A good practical example of the two-directional transfer of information between the government and the civil society is to be found in the drafting of the primary and secondary legislation enacted pursuant to the Accessibility Chapter. Each draft prepared by a government ministry or by organizations was published and distributed for comment in one of the following ways: the material was placed on the websites of the Commission and other organizations, or the material was distributed via e-mail or by regular mail to a long list of stakeholders from the relevant government ministries, organizations of persons with disabilities, professional associations, suppliers of services, etc. The comments have been discussed and negotiated at meetings in which all the stakeholders took part until reaching an agreed-upon wording that was or will be submitted to the Parliament for approval.

However, material might be available to advocates with disabilities but not accessible to them. The Equal Rights Law deals with this subject in several ways: The Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (Arrangement of Accessibility to Public Transportation Services), 5763 — 2003, require that: (a) information given to the public at a central facility as to time schedules, destinations, accessibility to bus lines, trains, ships, or aircraft, and the like, must also be provided by telephone and fax and in large print.; and (b) at the information, cash, or service counter staffed at a central location, paper and writing implements shall be available for use of persons with impaired hearing. Chapter 7, section 29, which deals with information for the public, states: (a) the holder of a city-service line shall publish the details of the city-service lines that it operates (which include accessible buses) once every six months, in three daily newspapers, at least one of which is in Arabic; (b) Israel Railway shall publish the trains that have an accessible car and the list of accessible train stations in its time schedules, beginning with the first time schedule published following the commencement of the regulations; and (c) a ship owner shall publish information on ships it operates which are accessible, in the sailing time schedules.

In 2005, the Television Broadcasting (Subtitles and Sign Language) Law, 5765 — 2005 intended for persons with hearing impairments was passed as well. In addition, the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Accommodations for Service Accessibility) Regulations, 5766 — 2006, which contain details on every means of accessibility of information, such as "alternative communication," "assistive technology", etc., were passed in 2006. In those Acts, a supplier is obligated to ensure accommodations and to include information on the accessibility level of a public place in which the service is provided in the following ways: (1) at the request of a person with impaired vision or a mobility disability — by telephone; (2) at the request of a person with a hearing disability or mobility disability — by facsimile, electronic mail, and SMS; and (3) by regular mail. The accommodations will also be made in the emergency-warning system, signage, Internet, and Internet services and will be implemented in accordance with the Israeli standards or with the international standards of World Wide Consortium (WAI).

Another example of a way to guarantee accessibility of information is presented in the draft of the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Accessibility to Telecommunications Services and Telecommunications Facilities) Regulations, 5766 — 2006, published by the Ministry of Communications. The draft regulations require every "holder of a license" maintaining a "telecommunications facility" or providing a "telecommunications service" to ensure the accessibility thereof. In accordance with the Communications (Telecommunications and Broadcasts) Law, 5742 — 1982, the holder of a license shall offer its customers at least one model of end-user equipment that is stationary or mobile, as the case may be, containing all of the following features: the possibility to increase the sound and tone; accommodations for hearing devices; and an option for voice-operated dialing. For holders of a license that supplies stationary-telephone services only, end-user equipment that mechanically converts text to speech (TDD) must be supplied in Hebrew and Arabic. This technological, environmental revolution in the lives of persons with disabilities, which is crucial for their inclusion in life and in policy formation, is a very unique aspect of the "environmental justice" concept which, progressively, minimizes obstacles to receiving information and participation.

The Right to Participate in Political Decision-Making

The third component of the "environmental justice" concept is the right to participate in political decision-making which is crucial both in ordinary times (Barnett and Scotch, 2001;Turnbull, Stowe, 2001; Davis, 2002; Putnam, 2005), as well as in emergencies (Endres and Brandt, 2007; Fox, White, Rooney and Rowland, 2007). Charlton (1998) sees the active participation of persons with disabilities in policy formation as a mean of transforming disability into a cultural, political, and economic issue instead of a personal, tragic one. In Israel, the principle of public participation in the governmental decision-making process has not been sufficiently internalized. However, a number of general provisions, certain items of legislation, and a few court decisions of recent years provide an outline for more profound consideration of this important public matter (Benbenisti and Sagi, 2006).

There are three primary forms of participation in the public decision making process (Bar, 2001) The first one is characterized by a quiet and compromising mode of activity, mainly by voluntary service providers with a personal interest in the subject or by very well institutionalized organizations which are closely tied to the governmental establishment. There are a few examples of this kind in Israel, mainly of organizations that were established by family members, such as Akim, in the area of persons with intellectual disabilities, Ilan in the area of persons with mobility disabilities, and Enosh in the area of persons with psychiatric disabilities. All of these organizations have much influence on the decision-making process concerning social rights granted by the welfare and health systems. Their influence is due to the number of clients in their care, their fundraising abilities and the high level of support they enjoy stemming from the fact that their boards of directors include high-level people from both the public and/or private sectors. Only lately have these organizations begun to be involved in human rights issues, especially in the areas of community living and accessibility.

The second form of participation is characterized by an aggressive and vocal mode of operation that increases awareness, mainly by protest through the media, parliament members, court, etc. The most impressive examples of this kind are undoubtedly the two long strikes organized, in 1999 and 2002, by mobility-impaired members of "Mate Maavak Hanechim" ("Headquarters of the Disabled Persons' Struggle"), strikes which lasted for months in the front of the Finance Ministry's offices and received extensive media coverage. The strikers raised the demand of thousands of persons with disabilities and their families to ensure their basic rights to live in dignity, with an emphasis on improving their social security and the coverage of mobility needs (Rimmerman and Herr, 2004). In addition to their material achievements, the strikes dramatically increased public awareness of the existence of persons with disabilities in Israel, who are not veterans, and of their desire to be involved and influential in every forum dealing with their affairs.

The strike ended, in part, because the Prime Minister, Mr Ariel Sharon, agreed to have formal participation of the late Mr Ariyeh Zudkewitz, who was the chair of the "Headquarters of the Disabled Persons' Struggle" ("Mate Hamaavak") as the representative of the disability community in the public "Laron Committee." The Laron Committee report was aimed at examining the ways and means to promote the integration of persons with disabilities into society. Later on, the Minister of Welfare, the Knesset member Zevulun Orlev appointed Mr Roni Schechter, the new chair of the "Headquarters of the Disabled Persons' Struggle," as his adviser and as a member of the monitoring committee for the implementation of the Laron report. There was also an amendment to the National Insurance Law made by Knesset member Shaul Yahalom which added four representatives of the main organizations of persons with disabilities to the public Council of the National Insurance Institute. "Mate Hamaavak," which has also been very active in drafting the Accessibility Chapter, represents the paradigm shift that has started to take place in Israel, among the leaders of the disability community, from the medical to the social, then to the human rights and environmental justice points of view, in the most impressive way.

The third mode of operation roughly involves bypassing the Executive Authority and turning to the public through traditional and electronic media, to the State Comptroller, or to the legislative or judicial branches to force the state to implement social change. The unchallenged power of the media as well as the prevailing power of Knesset members in forming public policy by submitting private bills had become two effective channels for social activists (Ben Aryeh, 1999). Additionally, the activism of the Supreme Court, under the lead of previous President judge Prof. Aharon Barak, has been very helpful in dealing with social-rights petitions, as well as the State Comptroller, which delved deeply into matters relating to persons with disabilities and issued several extremely harsh reports. Bizchut is an example of an effective organization of this kind which has had tremendous influence on the human rights paradigm shift in Israeli society.

A new branch of activity which is gradually becoming very popular in Israel, as it has been in many countries (Barnartt and Scotch, 2001), involves the real and virtual communities which use accessible websites, journals, and e-mail communication as a powerful means to break through isolation, overcome physical and technological obstacles and conduct cross-disability discussions, transforming information and personal or public protest. The Tapuz virtual community is one of the cross-disability examples and the Bekol organization of persons with hearing impairments is a single-disability example which has built an active and influential SMS community. The language gap still prevents many Hebrew and Arabic speakers, Israeli individuals and organizations, from joining international electronic networks and protests but some of them are already registered members in international coalitions.

All these modes of activity, and the combination thereof, have weakened the resistance of the government bureaucracy and hastened a change in their attitude towards the civil society from the fully patronizing approach that characterized the 1970s and 1980s to one somewhat more pluralistic and participatory-based. The change has developed in tandem with the expansion of privatization and the greater involvement of the third sector in providing services in Israel (Yishai, 1991, 1998).

Today, 515 nongovernmental organizations are active in the area of disabilities in Israel, 11% in the Arab, Druze and Bedouin sectors. 60% of the organizations were founded during the last five years. 70% deal with only one disability: 113 with physical disability, approximately 65 with learning disabilities and the same number with visual and with intellectual impairments, 44 with mental disabilities and 25 with hearing impairments. Most of those dealing with learning and mental disabilities are new. 72 organizations define themselves as social-rights promoters, 37 as inclusion promoters and 12 as accessibility promoters. The rest supply rehabilitation and information services of all kinds (Alon and Gidron, 2007).

Under the Equal Rights Law, an Advisory Committee to the Commission has been functioning since April 2003. The Advisory Committee contains 23 members: representatives of organizations with a variety of disabilities (physical, sensory, intellectual, mental and cognitive), representatives of families and of organizations involved in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, and representatives of the public. Most of the members have disabilities, the committee's chairperson and his vice-chair among them. The Commission consults with the Advisory Committee in matters related to the Commission's functions, i.e., in promoting the fundamental principles of the Equal Rights Law, advancing equality, and preventing discrimination against persons with disabilities, encouraging integration and active participation of persons with disabilities in society, and carrying out the functions imposed on it by statute.

Exercise of the obligation to consult and full participation by representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes is now mandated by a number of laws which deal, in particular, with the human rights of persons with disabilities as set out in Appendix I. However, the implementation has been very challenging. Many civil servants and professionals still believe that obtaining the opinion of the civil society overcomplicates the decision-making process, and that it is not sufficiently reliable. Such participation also raises challenges for the organizations, which have to dedicate personnel to learn the material, formulate an agreed-upon position, and, of course, actively engage in the struggle to implement the decision.

Consequently, more and more organizations are receiving legal and academic assistance, and in some instances, have developed special expertise, generally, and in the area of accessibility, in particular. This became evident in the extensive and deep public involvement throughout the debate over primary and secondary legislation regarding the Accessibility Chapter of the Equal Rights Law. Representatives of organizations, government, professional organizations and the private sector have been actively involved in drafting, rulemaking, public hearings, negotiated rulemaking, etc. in a process that has been conducted by the Commission. This process has been very challenging to all sides and raises many questions about the practical meaning of participatory democracy as it pertains to persons with disabilities, a concept which still needs to be defined and put into practice as one of the main challenges of Israeli society at this time.



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  • Planning and Building Law, 5725 — 1965
  • Business Licensing Law, 5728 — 1968
  • Communications (Telecommunications and Broadcasts) Law, 5742 — 1982
  • Local Authorities (Arrangements for Persons with Disabilities) Law, 5748 — 1988
  • Parking for Persons with Disabilities Law, 5754 — 1993
  • State Health Insurance Law [Consolidated Version], 5754 — 1994
  • National Insurance Law [Consolidated Version], 5755 — 1995
  • Freedom of Information Law, 5758 — 1998
  • Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758 — 1998 (including Amendment No. 2, chapter on accessibility)
  • Television Broadcasts (Subtitles and Sign Language) Law, 5765 — 2005


  • Proposed Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) (Housing in the Community and Personal Assistance, Culture, Leisure and Sport, Education and Knowledge, Legal System, Special Needs and Information), 5761 — 2000

Procedures, Ordinances, Regulations, and Standards

  • Planning and Building (Application for Permit, Conditions, and Fees) Regulations, 5730 — 1970
  • Traffic (Establishment of Signs) Notice, 5730 — 1970
  • Mobility Benefits Agreement, 1977, between the National Insurance Institute and the Ministry of Finance
  • Circular of the Director-General of the Ministry of the Interior, 1996: Lowering Sidewalks
  • Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Priority to Parking Spaces at Places of Work) Regulations, 5761 — 2001
  • Planning and Building (Permit for Limited Work) Regulations, 5763 — 2003
  • Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Arrangement of Accessibility to Public Transportation Services) Regulations, 5763 — 2003
  • Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (State Participation in Funding Accommodations) Regulations, 5763 — 2003
  • Arrangement of Swimming Places (Safety in Swimming Pools) Regulations, 5764 — 2004
  • Israeli standard — IS 1918: Part 1: Environmental Accessibility in Construction: Principles and General Requirements
  • Israeli standard — IS 1918: Part 2: Environmental Accessibility in Construction: The Environment outside the Building
  • Israeli standard — IS 1918: Part 4: Environmental Accessibility in Construction: Communications
  • Israeli standard — IS 2252: Part 1: Electronic Lift Surfaces for Persons with Mobility Disabilities — Safety Rules, Measurements, and Functional Activity: Vertical Inclines
  • Israeli standard — IS 2252: Part 2: Electronic Lift Surfaces for Persons with Mobility Disabilities — Safety Rules, Measurements, and Functional Activity: Slanted Inclines for Users who are Sitting, Standing, and in Wheelchairs, to Movement on a Slanted Plane
  • Israeli standard — IS 2481: Part 70: Elevators: Safety Requirements for Construction and Installation.


  • HCJ 7081/93, Botzer v. Maccabim-Reut Local Council (1996)

Reports, Statements and Guidebooks

  • National Insurance Institute report for 2005
  • Report of the Public Commission to Examine Comprehensive Litigation on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (1997), headed by Dr. Israel Katz
  • Report of the State Comptroller (2002). Integration of Persons with Disabilities in Society and at Work. Annual Report 52B for 2001 and the 2000 Fiscal Year. State Comptroller's Office, Jerusalem
  • Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Statement (2004). Employment Accommodations in the Open Market for Persons with Disabilities, position paper
  • Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Report (2005). Attitudes of the Israeli Society towards Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Justice, Jerusalem
  • Report of the Public Commission to Examine Matters Relating to Persons with Disabilities and to Promote their Integration into the Community (2005). Headed by Judge (ret.) late Ephraim Laron Jerusalem

Appendix I

The Israeli legislator has recognized the right of participation in a few statutes relevant to persons with disabilities, both by representation on the Council and by requiring consultation with organizations that promote the rights of persons with disabilities. A description of the relevant legislation follows:

Welfare and Health Legislation3

  1. State Health Insurance Law, 5754 — 1994:
    Under this statute, every Health Fund must maintain a public council . No less than one-tenth of its members must be representatives of members of the fund (section 27). Another public council is of the Ministry of Health, which contains 46 members.4 Section 48 of the Law mandates inclusion of members appointed by the Minister from among candidates representing consumers' organizations.
  2. National Insurance (Institute Council) Regulations, 5718 — 1958:
    (section 3: addition of four representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities to the council of the National Insurance Institute).
  3. Rehabilitation of Persons with Mental Disabilities in the Community Law, 5760 — 2000:
    (sections 4 and 5, relating to the composition of the National Council for Rehabilitation of Persons with mental disabilities in the Community: addition of two relevant representatives from the civil society).

Legislation relating to Accessibility

  1. Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758 — 1998
    (in the chapters on employment and public transportation services: consultation with organizations promoting rights of persons with disabilities).
  2. Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Amendment No. 2) Law, 5765 — 2005
    (Chapter 5/1 [E1]: Public Places and Public Services — part 3 (public places — accessibility); part 4 (public services — accessibility); part 6 (health services and public places in which health services are provided — accessibility); part 7 (educational institutions, institutions of higher education, educational services and services for higher education — accessibility); part 9 (roadways — accessibility); part 10 (emergency services — accessibility); part 14 (lawsuits — consultation with organizations promoting rights of persons with disabilities).
  3. Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Arrangement of licensed Accessibility experts5 ) Regulations, 5767 — 2007
  4. Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Arrangement of Accessibility to Public Transportation Services) Regulations, 5763 — 2003
    , as mentioned above.
  5. Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Priority to Parking Spaces at Places of Work) Regulations, 5762 — 2001
    , as mentioned above.
  6. Television Broadcasts (Subtitles and Sign Language) Law, 5765 — 2005
    (consultation with organizations promoting rights of persons with disabilities).
  7. Land Law, 5729 — 1969
    (section 59C regarding accommodations for persons with disabilities: consultation with organizations promoting rights of persons with disabilities).
  8. Civil Service (Appointments) Law, 5719 — 1959
    (section 15A, suitable representation among civil service employees: membership on the appeals committee on accommodations).
  9. Employment Service Law, 5719 — 1959
    (section 42B, programs for finding work for persons with disabilities: consultation with organizations promoting rights of persons with disabilities).
  10. Planning and Building Law, 5725 — 1965
    (section 158E2, as mentioned above).


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participatory_democracy
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  2. http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/index.html
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  3. The Ministry of Health maintains a number of health councils, and on 18 February 2003, the Health Ministry established the Health Parliament, many of whose members are from the civil society, such as the Company of Community Centers, the Zvi Organization, the Patients' Rights Association, Shatil, the Israel Democracy Institute, the Association for Civil Rights, the Social Organizations Headquarters, and others (Ministry of Health Web site, 2006). In 2005, a National Rehabilitation Council, headed by Professor Haim Ring, was established. This council, too, contains representatives of disabled persons (Ring, 2006, personal report). The statute also requires that the Ethics Committee will have a representative from the public or from the religious community.
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  4. In a new amendment of the Health Insurance Act which deals with the inclusion of mental health in the general health insurance the Commission requested to add a representative of persons with mental disabilities to the Health Council.
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  5. Separate regulations for experts in building, infrastructures and environment and for accessibility to services.
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