Israel Shines at United Nations as Leader Supporting People with Disabilities
This was an unusual week at the United Nations in New York as praise was heaped upon Israel for its leadership in supporting the rights of persons with disabilities.
The recognition came during a meeting of all countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Israel ratified the Convention in 2012 and Canada in 2010.
The Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations together with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations organized a panel discussion highlighting how Israeli technology is opening doors for people with disabilities. Oded Ben Dov, CEO of the firm Sesame Enable, demonstrated the smart phone application his company has developed which allows people who are unable to hold a smart phone to use eye movements to control it. Costing only $200 US the application is already being used in over 60 countries. Jean Judes, Executive Director of Beit Issie Shapiro, showed how technology has unlocked the power to communicate for children who previously were unable to demonstrate their abilities and desires.
In another session, Michael Fembek, Director of the Zero Project of Austria, singled out an Israeli project as one of the most progressive global initiatives. The Supported Housing program initiated by Israel Unlimited – the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s strategic partnership with the Israeli Government and the Ruderman Family Foundation – assists young adults with intellectual disabilities to become involved in community and social activities. Similarly, Diane Richler, representing the International Disability Alliance (and President of Canadian Friends of AKIM, which promotes the inclusion of Israeli children and adults with intellectual disabilities), praised AKIM in Israel for its innovative approach to supporting families of people who have been living in institutions for many years and who are being assisted by the Israeli government to move into their own homes in the community. Richler commented: “Israel’s commitment to supporting people with disabilities and their families provides many examples for other countries to learn from. The government, through the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the private sector, with companies like Sesame Enable, and civil society, with groups like Beit Issie Shapiro and AKIM, are all among the best in the world in recognizing and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.”