Access Israel attended UN's Habitat III convention in Quito Ecuador

10/11/2016
 
 
a visitor experiencing blind walk

Access Israel's delegation, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, played an active part in the UN Habitat III Convention, an international conference on urban development, taking place every twenty years.

 

This year's conference convened in Quito Ecuador on 17-20 of October, and was attended by 45,000 people from all over the world.

The Israeli delegation, led by the Minister of Building and Housing, Yoav Galant, was one of the largest ever to attend such a formal event.

The first day – The Accessibility Path

The Israeli activities began with the Access Israel's Accessibility Path event in the Israeli pavilion. Focusing on people and adapting urban environment to their needs, visitors were offered a choice of representative characters and where within an urban environment they wanted to place their character, thus learning about relevant urban plans developed in Israel.

As part of that concept and of believing that urban environment must take into consideration the needs and wishes of each and every resident, including the elderly and people with disabilities, Access Israel held the Accessibility Path activity, focusing this time on the challenges people with disabilities are confronted with in an urban environment. Walking along the Accessibility Path, the many visitors could experience firsthand the various obstacles and challenges, and identify with the key message – you cannot talk urban and think urban without making sure that the urban environment is adapted and accessible to all – in the spirit of the UN's principle Leave No One Behind!

People from every corner of the world, including states like North Sudan, Oman and Morocco, experienced our Accessibility Path, and the keen interest and participation were astounding.

Ms. Sharon Ashtar, a blind instructor with Access Israel, who was on the delegation to Quito and guided the visitors through a blind walk said, "Even without seeing, I could feel the pennies drop one by one, as people, who in their own countries are in charge of urban environment development and planning, realized how critical accessibility is to people like me, who are trying to lead a normal life and be included, and how difficult it would be without proper accessibility."

In addition, Israel's ambassador to Ecuador, Mr. Edwin Yabo, who honored us with his presence, and his enthusiasm and sensitivity won over everyone in the pavilion, including Latin America media, Ecuadorians and other guests from around the world, among whom an inclusive, containing and optimist dialogue had flourished. The convention's first – and exciting – day was brought to its end in a festive cocktail in the Swiss Hotel, hosted by the Ministry of Building and Housing, and attended by the entire Israeli delegation, including the Minister of Building and Housing, Yoav Galant, MK Dov Hanin, MK Tamar Zandberg and many others. Here too, Access Israel made its mark, with the ambassador's daughters and Access Israel's Sarel Oren Ohana leading the audience in the song "Makom BaLev" (a place in the heart) in sign language.

שביל הנגישות - המשתתפים מתנסים בהליכה עיוורת  שביל הנגישות - המשתתפים עברו מסלול מכשולים עם כיסא גלגלים  שביל הנגישות - המשתתפים מתנסים בהליכה עיוורת
Pictures: Walking along the Accessibility Path, the visitors could experience firsthand the challenges people with disabilities are confronted with 



The second day – Professional Sessions

During the convention's second day, the members of the Israeli delegation attended the many panels, held simultaneously and addressing various topics, including accessibility as part of adapting urban environment to all people. Contrary to our expectations and those of many organizations and people in the convention, accessibility for people with disabilities was not a key issue in the urban environment concept on those panels, even though accessibility is an integral part of the development of urban environment.

Access Israel's representatives had several important meetings. We met with Ms. Daniela Bass, director of UN's policy and social planning department, Dr. Michael Pemback of Australia's Zero Project, James Thornton, VP of G2ICT, as well as directors of local organizations promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

The third day

During the third day of the convention, Access Israel took part in a very successful event, held by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, the Israeli Urban Forum and the Urban Lobby, and attended other professional panels. The climax of that day was an aerial photograph of hundreds of the convention's guests forming the word INCLUSION.

המשתתפים מתנסים במוגבלות בשמיעה באמצעות אוזניות אוטמות קול  המשתתפים עורכים היכרות עם שפת הסימנים
Pictures: Participants experience hearing disability and made acquaintance with sign language


And the activity goes on

During the next two days, the Access Israel team held their Accessibility Path and Meal of the Senses events, hosted by ambassador Yabo, for important figures in the Ecuadorian culture milieu, as well as several meetings to promote essential collaborations on accessibility in the international arena.


Thanks

First and foremost, Access Israel wishes to thank the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Mr. Modi Efraim, deputy director for Latin America, Mr. Shmulik Bass, Ms. Livyia Link, Mr. Edwin Yabo, Israel's ambassador to Ecuador and Mr. Udi Avivi, the Israeli consul.

We also wish to extend our thanks to the Ministry of Building and Housing and all the members of the Israeli delegation to Habitat III, to Moti and the Eyal Tzipuyim team, to Me-HaLev Company and the Access Israel team on the delegation.

המשתתפים מתנסים במוגבלות בשמיעה ועורכים היכרות עם שפת הסימנים  המשתתפים מתנסים במוגבלות בשמיעה ועורכים היכרות עם שפת הסימנים
Pictures: Participants experience hearing disability and made acquaintance with sign language

מודל סביבה אורבנית עם אנשים עם מוגבלות וללא מוגבלות
picture: a model of people with and without disabilities in an urban environment

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