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Achievements & Awards

Over the years, Bizchut has promoted more than twenty laws that form the core of disability rights legislation in Israel. We have also litigated more than 100 cases that led to recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities. Below is a non-exhaustive list of our achievements.

Major achievements

  1. Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law 1998 - The law, which began as a draft bill prepared by Bizchut and became a government sponsored bill presented to the Knesset, is a milestone in Israeli legislation. It is the first law in Israel to recognize the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities to dignity and to equality. The law codifies the right of persons with disabilities to equality in the work place and their right to accessible public transportation. It also provides for the establishment of a Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  2. The addition of the Accessibility Chapter - The addition of the Accessibility Chapter in the Equal Rights Law through an amendment passed in 2005 revolutionized accessibility in Israel, imposing obligations on both government authorities and private institutions to make all public spaces, facilities and services, even when privately owned, accessible to a wide public of persons with physical, intellectual, sensory and psychosocial disabilities in Israel.

  3. The Botzer case - A precedent setting High Court case which established the right of a student with a physical disability to accommodations at school. This was the first judgment to establish the right of persons with disabilities to equality and accessibility.

  4. Accessibility at polling stations - Persons with disabilities were able to vote in the Israeli elections for the first time in 1999, thanks to a petition filed by Bizchut on behalf of four individuals who use a wheelchair for mobility. After the petition was filed, a law establishing the right of persons with disabilities to vote at any accessible polling station was passed.

  5. Accessible urban public transportation - Following a petition Bizchut filed under the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law, the Minister of Transportation issued a notice that as of 2001 all new intra-city buses would have ramps and be accessible to persons who use wheelchairs.

  6. Inclusive education - An amendment to the Special Education Law establishes that students with disabilities are entitled to receive assistance that would enable them to study in the regular school system. The amendment and several High Court petitions that followed helped promote the inclusion of children with special needs in the regular education system.

  7. Investigation and Testimony Procedures for People with Disabilities Law - This legislation, born out of a project run by Bizchut, is the first of its kind in the world. This unprecedented law provides persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities with the accommodations they require during police interviews and court testimony. The law was enacted in 2005.

  8. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Bizchut played an active role in promoting the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the UN and Israel’s ratification of it. The CRPD was approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. Israel acceded to the convention and signed it in March 2007 with ratification taking place in September 2012. As part of its work on the CRPD, Bizchut’s staff promoted the drafting of an article addressing accommodations for persons with disabilities in judicial proceedings, making its mark on the international disability rights scene. Bizchut is a leading advocator for the implementation of the CRPD in Israel.

  9. The right to education for children who are confined to their homes - Following a petition filed by Bizchut in 2009, children with conditions that prevent them from leaving their homes are entitled to the same number of teaching hours and the same assistance provided to children in the special needs education system. The petition, filed on behalf of one child from Hadera, continues to have an impact on ,restoring the rights of scores of children every year.

  10. The “Independent Living” petition - The Levy petition generated changes to the Welfare Ministry criteria for the right to housing in the community and induced the opening of independent living schemes for persons with complex intellectual disabilities.

  11. Access to textbooks for blind students - A petition regarding the lack of textbooks accessible to blind students moved the state to supply textbooks and other educational materials in Braille as well as make matriculation exams accessible to students with vision impairments and blind students.

  12. The establishment of a Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Thanks to Bizchut, the Commission was established as a unit in the Ministry of Justice pursuant to the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law. The first commissioner was Bizchut Executive Director Ariela Ofir, with Ahiya Kamara, a former Chair of Bizchut’s Board, subsequently assuming the role.

  13. Mental health reform - Following a High Court petition filed by Bizchut, the Ministry of Health decided to implement the mental health reform which streamlined psychosocial care into Israel’s universal healthcare system.

  14. Deinstitutionalization - In 2012, the Neve Yaakov psychiatric institution was shut down after Bizchut exposed negligence and abuse of patients at the facility. Over the years, Bizchut has visited scores of care facilities, exposed human rights abuses and produced dramatic changes, including at Ilanit, Neve HaIrus and Neve Shalva. 

  15. Recognition for supported decision making - Bizchut led the guardianship reform as part of the amendment to the Legal Capacity and Guardianship Law. The reform centers on recognition for supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship. As part of its efforts, Bizchut led a pilot that implemented an innovative model for providing supported decision-making services in 2015

  16. Shovrim Kshira (Breaking the Restraints) - Bizchut led the campaign to reduce the use of physical restraints in psychiatric hospitals. Following the publication of our report Shovrim Kshira in 2016, which revealed that one in four patients are held in restraints, the Ministry of Health appointed a committee whose final recommendations included reducing use of physical restraints. A reduction of 76% in the use of restraints was recorded following Bizchut’s campaign.

Awards, Midot Seal of Effectiveness, UN accreditation

  1. Winners of the Midot Effective Non-Profit Organization Award for 2014 - Being awarded the Midot Effective Non-Profit Organization Award reflects Bizchut’s professionalism and transparency and its deep impact on social change in the field of disability rights.

  2. Gorny Prize for Public Law for 2014. The prize is awarded by the Israeli Association of Public Law and Adv. Gorny’s family. A committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice (emeritus) Edna Arbel unanimously decided to award Bizchut the prize for major achievements in promoting of the rights of persons with disabilities over the previous year.

  3. Zero Project Award for 2019. Bizchut’s supported decision making pilot project was selected for the Zero Project Award that will be given in Vienna in 2019.

  4. UN accreditation - Bizchut is the first Israeli organization to receive UN accreditation for expertise in disability rights. Bizchut was accredited to participate in the discussions of the Ad Hoc Committee discussing the draft CRPD from 2004 to 2006.

  5. Midot Seal of Effectiveness - Bizchut’s Midot Seal of Effectiveness is valid until December 2019. This is what has been said of Bizchut: “The Seal of Effectiveness attests that the Non-Profit Organization is committed to an organizational culture that values planning, assessment, focus on results and constant improvement.”

  6. Awards given to Bizchut staff members:

  • Zusman Prize for 2005 - Given to Adv. Neta Dagan and Adv. Tirza Leibowitz for contribution made to the accessibility revolution in Israel as part of their work as members of Bizchut’s legal team.

  • Beit Issie Shapiro Seal of Compassion for 2011 - Naama Lerner, Bizchut Community Outreach Department Director was awarded the Seal of Compassion for promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in Israel.

  • Yedioth Aharanoth Men and Women of the Year in Social Rights for 2016 & 2017 - Adv. Sharon Primor was selected as one of the men and women of the year in social rights for exposing the use of physical restraints in psychiatric hospitals and for her work to promote rights in this field.

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