Lack of accessibility kills people (or: why I am not using the Israeli train system now)

Few days ago, Shmuel Katz, an hearing-impaired and sight-impaired man, was killed by the train in Tel Aviv.
He boarded the wrong train, and when trying to leave it in haste, he was trapped at the train’s door and was killed.

The root cause for his death is insufficient accessibility of train related information to people with hearing and sight impairments. Information about the destination of the current train in a platform is not always displayed, and announcements over the public address system are, of course, not heard by hearing impaired people.

The problem of the announcements is the reason why I stopped using the train until further notice.

My parents live in Jerusalem, not far from the Malacha train station in southwest Jerusalem.
When the train line to Jerusalem was reopened, I made frequent use of it to travel from Petah Tikva to Jerusalem and back. Since the reason for trips was to visit family rather than business or work, I did not mind the schedule problems of the train.

However, one day I read in the newspaper that due to schedule problems, the management canceled the stops in Bnei Berak, Petah Tikva and Rosh Hayin in a train run passing through Petah Tikva. The cancellations were announced in the public address system. This incident was newsworthy, because the passengers, who expected to leave the train in the canceled stops, blocked the train’s doors open and prevented it from leaving the station it was in Tel Aviv. The train run was canceled.

If I were on that train, I’d not have a clue about the happening, and would have risked finding myself in Hod Hasharon instead of my destination – Petah Tikva – and since there are no convenient bus lines from the Kfar Sava-Hod Hasharon train station to “my” train station, I would have wasted several hours getting back to my car parked in the Petah Tikva train station.

Therefore I decided to go back to using my car to visit my parents in Jerusalem, until the train becomes 100% accessible to hearing impaired people, and the management demonstrates more scheduling responsibility.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.