Educational Programs for Accessibility and Inclusion
Accessibility Education – Background
Access Israel is a non-profit organization that promotes accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Our goal is to create a society that is accessible and inclusive and allows people with disabilities and the elderly to live with dignity, respect and maximum independence. People with disabilities often face prejudice, stigma and negative attitudes due to their disability, which create an additional barrier for them to feel fully included into society.
Access Israel believes that the most effective way to create a social change is to educate the next generation on the importance of accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Therefore, we developed several educational programs for schools that are adjusted to the different age groups. All of our programs consist of an educational part as well as an experiential part which are based on our four pillars.
1. Knowledge (learn about people with disability, accessibility and inclusion)
2. Experience (experience how it feels to live with a disability through simulations)
3. Break the barrier (Meet people with disabilities personally)
4. Pay it forward (pass on the learned information and lessons)
We believe that these four pillars are a successful approach to create a social change. The students learn about accessibility and inclusion and meet a person with a disability personally and participate in experiential activities that simulate life with a disability. In our experience, experiencing the daily struggles that people with disability face on a daily basis, best demonstrates the importance of accessibility and inclusion. Moreover, meeting people with disabilities and learning their stories and struggles, helps break the barrier between able and disabled people and creates a more inclusive society.
Accessibility Programs for Schools:
1. 'The A,B,C of Accessibility' – for Elementary SchoolsThis program includes:
§ Educational lessons: Before touching on the subject of accessibility and people with disabilities, the students learn about the terms and concepts of the differences and similarities we all have between one another. They learn that through those differences and similarities, they can connect and help one another. During this lesson the children learn to get to know each other better and to connect on different levels. At the end of the class they learn about different disabilities and connect it to the terms that the class learned.
§ Happening: During the happening students participate in experiential activities in different groups where they are exposed to and learn about different disabilities (visual, hearing and mobility), experience how it is to live with a disability through simulations and meet people with disabilities personally.
§ Pay it forward: At the end of the activity, students become ambassadors of accessibility. They create their own initiatives to improve accessibility in their school or neighborhood, such as creating their own signs, board or drawings to raise awareness for accessibility and inclusion in their school.
· Lecture: The students receive an introduction to the world of people with disabilities, learn about different types of disabilities and basic accessibility terms, emphasizing social accessibility and how to be part of the human ramp. We emphasis that 'accessibility is a means to an end', meaning accessibility is the tool to create real inclusion for people with disabilities.
· Happening for the grade/school: The students are divided into smaller groups and go through different stations that represent and simulate different disabilities (visual, hearing, mobility and cognition, autism). In each station the students meet a person with a disability who shares with them his/her personal life story, struggles and success, and explain the students how they can help and make a difference. Moreover, the students experience the discussed disability through different activities that simulate the specific disability.
· Expanding the circle of impact: At the end of the activity, students and their teachers create projects aimed at advancing accessibility in the school and the community. For example, students map the accessibility of the school or the neighborhood, give lessons about accessibility to younger children or other projects that they create themselves. Access Israel assists the students in these projects.
3. 'Equal to All'
This program is designed to help schools better integrate their students with disabilities. The program targets the educational staff, the students and the students with disabilities in order to create a fully accessible and inclusive environment. The program consists of several stages:
§ A visit prior to the event: Access Israel visits the school prior to the event and meets with the educational staff to learn about the students with disability, their needs and the accessibility of the school.
§ An experiential training for the educational staff: This training incudes a lecture on accessibility and inclusion, emphasizing the needs of students with disabilities in the school system. This lesson is adapted to the needs of the school and the problems that the school encountered with the inclusion of students with disabilities. The teachers get practical tools to adapt their lessons to make them accessible and inclusive for their students with disabilities. In addition, the teachers participate in an experiential activity where they meet people with disabilities that share their life story emphasizing their experience as a child with a disability in the educational system. This experiential activity can be for example a "Feast of the Senses", an experiential three course meal that simulates different disabilities in order to learn how it feels to live with a disability.
§ 'The A,B,C of Accessibility' or the 'Accessibility Ambassadors' project (depending on the age of the students). These two programs are adapted to the specific challenges and needs that the school encountered with the students with disabilities.
4. Experiential Accessibility Training for Teachers
§ Lecture: Teachers and the educational staff participate in a lecture on accessibility and inclusion in the school system. The teachers learn about people with disabilities, their needs and challenges in the school system. At the end of the lecture they get practical tools and tips on creating a more inclusive and accessible environment for students with disabilities.
§ 'Feast of the Senses': An experiential meal that simulates living with a disability and helps to understand the struggles of living with a disability. Each course simulates a different disability (hearing, visual and mobility) and is accompanied by a person with the discussed disability that shares his/her story, struggles and successes. This experiential experience helps to understand the struggles people with disabilities face on a daily basis.
5. 'Feeling Accessibility Event'
There is an option to organize an awareness raising happening for youth groups or the broad public.
§ Happening: An experiential happening at the school for all students. This happening includes different experiential stations with different experiential activities, such as basketball on a wheelchair, going on a path with obstacles while in a wheelchair, sign language stations, blind ice cream tasting, walking blindfolded with a cane and much more. In each station, the students deal and experience a certain disability personally and meet a person with the discussed disability and hear his/her personal story, struggles and successes in coping with the disability.
§ Option: It is possible to add a lecture prior to the event for the school to discuss accessibility. It is also possible to give a lecture to a chosen class or group which will prepare a short presentation to present it to the rest of the students before the happening.
Feedback by the students:
'I learned that even if you can't see, it doesn't need to stop you from fulfilling your dreams. There are also things that blind people can understand much better than we do'.
'I learned that there are people who are different than me in various ways, and despite their disabilities, may it be visible or not, they are still the same than me.'
'I learned today that everyone is different and we need to accept everyone how they are, no matter if they are different than us. What is important is their personality, not the outside.'
Feedbacks by the teachers:
'The meeting was built well and fitted the way the children think. I enjoyed it a lot and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I think the experiential activities are a must for all schools.'
'The activity was emotional, special and important for the students that participated. The activities to learn to accept the 'other' was very convincing. The students developed emotions, importance and understanding for the cause throughout the activity.'
The price depends on the chosen programs.
We will make changes and customize according to the needs of the customer.
Accessibility Education – Goals
§ Raising awareness for accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, physical disability, service accessibility and interpersonal accessibility in the next generation.
§ Breaking the barrier between able and disabled people and with that the stigmas and prejudice towards them through personal meetings with people with disabilities, experiential activities, learning and dealing with the different disabilities.
§ Developing the students into young 'accessibility ambassadors' who promote accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities and help create a more accessible and inclusive society.
§ Learn how to assist people with disabilities on a day to day basis.
Accessibility Education – Methods
§ Each project is combined of an educational and experiential part. The educational part has the goal to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the world of people with disabilities and the 'other'. The experiential activities has the goal to enable the students to feel, learn and experience the importance of accessibility and inclusion on a personal level.
§ 'Until you don't experience it, you won't understand': The experiential activities simulate the feeling of living with a disability.
§ Getting to know the person behind the disability: meeting a person with a disability personally, that shares his personal experiences with the students, such as the struggles, successes and learning to deal with the disability.
For more information:
Shelly Rom, Head of Accessibility Education Department