People with Disabilities and Accessibility

A disability is difficulty functioning. The difficulty stems from incompatibility between an individual’s functioning ability and the existing physical and human environment. Accessibility refers to adapting the environment to the functioning ability of persons with a disability. This article defines who is a person with a disability, what is accessibility and provides examples of accessibility accommodations to an array of functional disabilities.

​Who is a person with a disability

 The term “person with a disability” refers to a fundamental difficulty in an individual’s ability to function in everyday life and to participate in activities.

A person with a disability” – a person with a physical, mental or intellectual, including cognitive, impairment, whether permanent or temporary, which substantially limits his functioning in one or more of the central spheres of life (Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758-1998).
Note: physical disability includes mobility and sensory disabilities (visual, auditory).

An individual’s ability to function is affected by his/her physical, sensory (visual and auditory), intellectual and mental abilities. Innate or acquired disabilities (due to a disease, injury or old age) may limit an individual’s functional abilities, yet no less influential are environmental factors that may constitute barriers to the functioning of persons with a disability. These environmental factors may be physical, social or cultural.

The term “accessibility” is the product of an outlook that views the individual’s condition as the outcome of the interrelationship between his/her physical, intellectual or mental condition, the activities he/she performs in everyday life and the environmental factors that enable or hinder the individual’s participation in family, community and social life.

The accessibility approach views each and every person as a whole person with certain abilities. It places on society the onus to adapt the environment in which the individual functions to the broadest possible array of human abilities so that the environment will enable all individuals, from the entire range of abilities, optimal functioning in society in a safe and dignified manner.

The term “accessibility” refers to creating an environment that enables optimal participation and functioning.

Accessibility” – the ability to reach, to be mobile and to be oriented in a place, to use and to enjoy service, to receive information that is given or produced in a place or a service or in connection with them, to use given facilities and to participate in programs and activities that take place there, and all of these in an equal, dignified, independent and safe manner (Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law, 5758-1998, Article 19A).

Meeting accessibility requirements necessitates making accessibility accommodations that will enable persons with a disability to function optimally and to realize their individual potential to contribute and integrate into society.


Several representative examples:


Physical disability

Functioning limitations: difficulty in movement, in holding and in maintaining balance.
Examples of accessibility accommodations: passageways that accommodate wheelchairs, installing handrails, providing lifting apparatus and elevators, widening openings, removing physical obstacles, installing and adjusting service desks and service assistive aids, installing aids for use in products that require accurate and delicate hand movement or use of considerable force.


Visual disability

Functioning limitations: difficulty in receiving and deciphering visual messages.

Examples of accessibility accommodations: installing warning, detection and direction signals, removing obstacles, adding auditory aids at traffic lights, marking by using sensory signage or a contrasting shade, additional lighting while avoiding blinding, website accessibility, audio transmission of visual information.


Auditory disability 

Functioning limitations: difficulty in receiving, deciphering and delivering auditory messages.

Examples of accessibility accommodations: reducing background noise, marking by using prominent visual signage, using two-way visual communication devices such as fax, computer and text messages.


Mental or intellectual, including cognitive, disability, and autism

Functioning limitations: difficulty in deciphering and coping with contents, procedures, customs and practices.

Examples of accessibility accommodations: prominent marking to make orientation easier, reducing stimuli and noise, reducing crowdedness, providing accurate information that is divided into information units and summarized in simple language

Computer accommodations: hardware and software and accessibility of websites.