As part of ADI’s Tikkun Olam leadership program, and in conjunction with Lotem – Making Nature Accessible, 28 students from the AMIT Comprehensive School in Ber Sheva set out to investigate the extent – and lack – of accessibility in their neighborhood through personal experience.
The students equipped themselves with blindfolds, sound-blocking earphones and mobility apparatus – wheelchairs, crutches and canes – and walked off to explore the neighborhood from the perspective of people with disabilities.
Yahav Amsalam: “Now I finally understand the difficulties facing people with disabilities. I went from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane and thought getting around would be easier, but it wasn’t. It was actually harder.”
Ohed Buda: “I took earphones because I thought that would be the easiest thing. While crossing the street, I looked down at my phone for a second, and when I picked up my eyes, I saw that a car had stopped right next to me. I guess the driver honked, but I didn’t hear it. The whole experience was not as easy as I thought it would be.”
Nehori Regini: “It was very challenging. I went out with a cane and blindfold and I was sure I would make it easily enough. I knew I would need assistance from my friends, and I really panicked when they didn’t answer me. There were steps on the way out. Curbs were broken and not every traffic light had a button for people with visual impairments. I will never again look at a high curb the same way.”
Back at school, students filled out detailed reports citing accessibility deficiencies, based on their own personal experience. Reports will be forwarded to relevant municipal departments in the hopes of raising awareness and prompting improvement.
Additionally, the experiment was successful as an awareness- and inclusivity-raising exercise, as throughout the day participants met and spoke with passing residents who expressed encouragement and support for the Tikkun Olam project.