As of December 31, 2014, there is a new law on the books in Israel mandating that all public transportation must be wheelchair-accessible. Still, this does not completely solve the issue of mobility difficulties on buses, trains and taxis for people with disabilities.
“Galgalim Darom” (“Wheels in the South”), an innovative program tailor-made for Israel, was recently launched for people whose physical or mental challenges hinder their ability to get around independently. Galgalim’s mission is to provide various forms of transportation assistance to individuals with different kinds of special needs, so that they can be as active participants in society as everyone else. The program will help the 67,000 residents of southern Israel with a disability – and eventually all of Israel’s approximately 697,000 disabled adults between the ages of 21 and 65 — to get to work or shop at a mall without the added pressure of calculating how they are going to manage the trip itself.
Tal Goldman, project manager for the Tel Aviv-based non-profit organization Transport Today and Tomorrow, which is a partner Galgalim, said “This will open up new vistas for people who otherwise would be limited in their ability to find employment, to visit friends and family and to have the ability to enjoy their leisure time.” Goldman also told ISRAEL21c that the program will include an information hotline to provide assistance in planning rides on public transportation and everything connected with travel, such as advance purchase of tickets and eligibility for discounts. This line will also serve as the address for receiving “first aid” advice and for filing complaints. The bulk of the program, however, will revolve around an extensive network of volunteers teaching the target population how to use public transportation, often accompanying disabled travelers to their destinations. (via Israel21c)
[Photo: yanik_crepeau / Flickr]