Can You Hear Me?
In Israel, as in other western countries, the issue of equal rights for people with disabilities and specifically for hard of hearing people is currently in the process of change. The Israeli law for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities was passed in 1998, but the rights of people with disabilities are still far from being equal.
According to global statistics, as much as 10% of the population in the western world has a hearing loss. In Israel this means approximately 700,000 people. For many of these people the hearing loss occurs late in life and they are faced not merely with a communication problem, but also with wider and deeper issues of social stigma. Usually a person encountering hearing loss does not have the social resources to cope with the change involved, and does not know where to turn to gain information regarding rights, possible technological solutions and rehabilitation options.
Bekol, an organization founded and run by hard of hearing people has set itself a goal to assist all hard of hearing people in Israel to face these problems. Our small 10 year old membership NGO, with a budget of 500k$, is run by only 12 staff members with the assistance of 200 volunteers! Throughout the past years we have worked in various ways to achieve this, the following are some examples:
· Information Hot Line and Internet Site - our hot line is staffed by volunteers and supplies information to over 3000 people a year.
· Courses and self- help groups – providing information and accessible activities as well as a social network.
· Advocacy and lobbing for legislation – this includes legislation for TV subtitles in Hebrew to be included gradually in all Hebrew broadcasts, and legislation regarding health benefits for hard of hearing people, especially inclusion of cochlear implants and hearing aids in the public health insurance coverage.
· Demonstration and Guidance centers – Bekol has built with the participation of partners three demonstration centers in Israel (in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa), in which people can come and learn about available assistive technologies. In addition, a group of our members has been trained to give lectures around the country regarding hearing loss.
· Accessibility – based on the understanding that where the environment is accessible we can fully participate, we have worked on improving the accessibility of many public places, including theaters, government offices, service providers, public transportation etc.
· Increasing public awareness – annual events such as the annual hearing day, and a singsong event including hearing and hard of hearing people promote the public awareness to the issue of hearing loss
Funding and Donations
Bekol receives some funding from government support, and self funding from membership and activities. Nevertheless, both the ongoing programs and the future expansion of the organization are reliant on external fund raising and donations.
We are turning to you with a request for any possible assistance. This can be done in various ways:
1. Donate – please donate any sum you see fit.. You may do this by sending a check in the post, or with one of our representatives listed below; you can also donate by credit card. The organization has tax exemption status for donations according to section 46(a) of the Israeli Tax Law.
Note: We Receive donations – tax exempted - from the U.S. through P.E.F Israel Endowment Funds, Inc.. All contributions via the PEF must be in US dollars made payable to PEF Israel Endowment Funds Inc., and should carry a recommendation for the use of the funds for Bekol – Organization of Hard of Hearing People in Israel. Minimum contribution is $25. Please mail your check to the PEF: 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607 New York NY 10017 USA
2. Non monetary donations we will be glad to hear your suggestions for such donations (e.g printing, office equipment, design, advertising etc.).
3. Become a member and/or volunteer in Bekol
Please do not hesitate to contact our office for any additional information or clarification.
17, Tchernihowsky st. Tel-Aviv, Israel
Board of Trustees or Directors
Prof. Jerry Reichstein, President Founder
Mr. Ido Granot, Executive Director
Mr. Avi Blau, Chairman
Dr. Ilana Fried
Prof. Amatzia Weizel
Mr. Zeev Broshi
Mr. Shlomi Avni, Attorney at Law
Ms. Adva Eichengreen
Mr. Gadi Leibovich
Bekol means in Hebrew “with voice”, signifying not only the importance of the oral means of communication but also the voicing of hard of hearing people’s rights and needs