This week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement calling for employment opportunities for persons with disability worldwide.
“We must remove all barriers that affect the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society, including through changing attitudes that fuel stigma and institutionalize discrimination,” Ban said in his message honoring the International Day of Persons with Disability, which is celebrated worldwide each year on December 3.
Yet a recent survey of persons with disability living in Israel found that the estimated one million Israelis who have a disability face serious obstacles when trying to find meaningful and well-paid work and integrating into Israeli society.
On average persons with disabilities make NIS 1400 per month less than their peers and many, especially those with multiple handicaps, face considerable obstacles having access to adaptable services to allow them to do their work.
Those who have become disabled in adulthood, or have an acquired disability, often have difficulty having their special needs recognized by their employers and the government, which is often reluctant to recognize their status as a person with disabilities.
For all persons with disability, according to the report published by JDC-Israel, stigma about disability is often the greatest barrier to inclusion.
While 86 percent of Israelis said they would be willing to have a person with disabilities as a neighbor, the number dropped dramatically if the person suffered from a mental illness or developmental disability.
Most disturbing, 18 percent of Israelis felt that persons with disabilities should be considered dangerous and did not want them near their children or their workplace.
Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Fund, said that Israel needs to embrace persons with disability into all aspects of society as a matter of justice.
“A fully inclusive society is not only a matter of fairness, but will be a better, more just place for all,” he said.
“I hope for the day when our society does not need to mark the International Disability Day because people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of our society.”