The 5th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Day was held in Tel Aviv University, Mexico Building on last Thursday 27th October 2005. The Day was jointly sponsored by the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel and the Tel Aviv University Student Association.
The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel celebrated its 13th year of operation. When they started the pilot project for helping deaf and hard of hearing students in Israeli postsecondary educational institutions, in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute (the Israeli counterpart of Social Security), they helped 6 students. Now they are serving 300 students in a full spectrum of topics of study.
The formal program of the event consisted of three parts:
- Handing out of scholarships
- Panel discussion about the world of work in Israel and integration of people with special needs into it
- Art program
Five scholarships, donated by the Globes newspaper and by Motorola Israel, were handed out. In her acceptance speech, one of the scholarship recipients, Yifat Ben-Zeev, a M.A. student in conflict resolution, pointed out the difficulties she endured in her B.A. studies before Sign Language interpreting or notetaking were available to students. Today’s situation is a dream relative to the situation several years ago.
The panel discussion hosted two employers of deaf persons, three administrators of various rehabilitation programs, and two working deaf employees.
There was one glaring accessibility problem in the event. The hall, in which the formal program was held, is not accessible to people with wheelchairs. They are forced to stay in the hall’s back and they cannot reach the podium where speeches are made. The representative of the Tel Aviv University Student Association told the audience that they are fighting for full accessibility of the university halls.
It is easier to make workplaces accessible to hard of hearing employees than to deaf employees. This is because the hard of hearing need only equipment, which is one-time cost (plus deprecation), whereas the deaf need Sign Language interpreter or notetaker, and this is a recurring expense.
Today, the bottleneck in employing people with special needs is with educating the employers. Self-help NGOs which work with people with special needs serve the important role of bridging between the know-how accumulated in them and the employers, who were not exposed yet to this know-how.
In the past, deaf boys learned metal working and deaf girls learned to be seamstresses, and everyone was happy with this state of affairs. Today several well-paying professions need a M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Accordingly, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel and the National Insurance Institute started a pilot program for helping deaf and hard of hearing students study for their M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Today there are 50 students in the pilot.
The art program was supposed to include a group of drummers. However, they did not show up. The other three artist groups did show up. One of them was a group of folk dancers. The second was a single woman, who rated a wow wow. The third was a couple of man and woman acrobats.
The wow wow woman had a rubber-like body and danced her way into and out of all kinds of seemingly impossible positions. She had plenty of talent left over, and she poured large part of it into making the dance a sensuous one. Her clothes, while covering most of her skin, were uncovering her beauty. Overall, this was a wow wow.