By Guest Blogger Suzanne Cannon, Director of Resource Development, Bizchut, The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities
The results of Israel’s first-ever Inclusion Index created by Bizchut, The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, in conjunction with the Ruderman Family Foundation were published in March 2012. The Index intends to improve the extent to which persons with disabilities are included in community life by examining inclusion in the areas of education, housing, employment, transportation, leisure and access and encouraging local authorities to take steps to address gaps revealed.
The first pilot phase looked at six local authorities: Carmiel, Dimona, Hod Hasharon,Holon,Nazarethand Shoham and focused on inclusive education and the extent to which children with disabilities were effectively integrated into the local education system. Information and data were provided by the Education Ministry and the local authorities themselves. The Index found that Shoham is the most inclusive city with the total number of children with disabilities exercising their right to inclusion in the regular school system greatly surpassing those of other places. Carmiel and Hod Hasharon came in second and third places respectively whileNazarethand Dimona had much weaker grades andHoloncame in last. Responses from the local authorities were mostly encouraging with Holon requesting a meeting with Bizchut to discuss the findings and look at ways of improving inclusion in their city. National media coverage of the findings served to expose the general public to the issue.
By placing a spotlight on local authorities the Index highlights their responsibility to take steps to promote and facilitate inclusion in their localities in line with the social model of inclusion. Bizchut is now planning the second stage of the project during which we hope to look at inclusive education on a national scale and examine levels of inclusion in various areas among the 10 largest cities in Israel. We look forward to the day when cities actively compete to be at the top of the Index or when inclusion is so part of society that we no longer need to measure.
— Suzanne Cannon