Monday, February 08, 2010
Disability Discrimination in Israel
Yesterday I submitted ten kilo of drawings, technical description, contracts and dozens of other documents required for permitting a meat factory. Everything was all right and I paid the municipal tax, then the bureaucrat in charge pointed to a large signpost on the wall "No submissions will be processed unless signed by a registered xpert in handicapped access". I had always designed special wheelchair toilets for public places, but this is something new. I protested that no handicapped person will work in a meat factory and the public will not be allowed in, but laws are laws and that it was.
(Later I talked to a friendly higher up bureaucrat, an exception was made and the permit is being processed.)
The point is that Israel is starting to enforce seriously the anti-discriminatory building laws. That means additional large toilets (building space is very expensive in Israel) and long sloped ramps, adding some 5% to building costs. My country club's swimming pool has installed mechanic chairs for the handicapped. There are talking facilities for the blind (new lifts have Braille control panels) and many other related subjects. This is a speciality that slowly is gaining momentum and the reason is different from the American one, which is lawsuits against discrimination. Here, I think, the reason is that simply the quality of the population is worsening fast. In the streets one sees more and more disabled people and I mean old people in wheelchairs with a Phillippine caretaker pushing them, more morbidly obese people circulating on electric cars, and more terribly disfigured people that I have never seen before, and so on. Apparently Israel is preparing itself to a largely handicapped population and that may include expected additions resulting from the coming wars.