According to the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law, people with disabilities have the right to participate fully, equally, and actively in all areas of life. It is incumbent on society to find ways to allow them to realize their potential. The education system, at all levels, is a major junction in the social integration of children and young people with disabilities. It also holds a key role in their advancement towards equality in the workplace and in society at large.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Israel in September 2012, stipulates that the States Parties must ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system due to their disability, and create an inclusive education system that allows children to develop their abilities by providing the necessary accommodations and support.
The Accessibility Chapter of the Equal Rights Law includes a special section about accessibility of educational institutions, both physical access and access to educational services, in order to create a situation where all schools will prepare appropriate accessibility accommodations, even before the arrival of a student with disabilities. Regulations regarding accessibility of existing educational institutions have been in force since 2012.
Additional accessibility regulations concerning education and training institutions at all levels - kindergarten, primary school and high school, post -secondary and higher education - are still being discussed by the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee of the Knesset. Draft regulations are published on the Commission’s website.
Regulations concerning accessibility of vocational training have recently (October 2014) been approved by the Committee, but have yet to be published in the Official Gazette.
The Special Education Law, enacted in 1988, regulates the studies of children with disabilities in special education schools. In 2002, the Integration Chapter of this Law was enacted, governing the integration of children with disabilities in regular schools.
The principle of equality favors integration of a student with special needs in regular schools, while providing the necessary accommodations. However, it allows the appropriate response for each child with a disability, either through integration or special education, according to their needs and their choices.
Presumably, the integration of children with disabilities in regular schools, in their own neighborhood, the same as any other child, will promote their rights both on the social and educational level. They will be directed to aspire for achievement, which will help each child realize his or her individual potential. This will ultimately lead to their absorption in the workplace and independent living in the community.
In 2009, the public committee headed by Justice Dorner (retired) submitted its recommendations for improving the work of the special education system. The Committee recommended three guiding principles: First, eligible students shall be funded on the basis of their level of functioning and disability. Second, the budget will be allocated to the students in each school they learn at (the budget "follows" the student). Third, the parents will choose the type of educational setting at in which their child will study. The Ministry of Education adopted the Committee's recommendations and applied them, as of 2013, as a pilot project in one area.
We believe in education of children with and without disabilities together, while providing the necessary accommodations. Integrated education will achieve two important goals. All Israeli children will learn, starting in kindergarten, that people with disabilities are an integral part of society. Children with disabilities will need to face the same educational and social challenges as any other student. All of society will internalize the values of equality and the right to be different, ultimately becoming inclusive for people with disabilities and differences in general.
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