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Continuing to Speak Up for Themselves

January 2019

On October 24, 100 self-advocates with intellectual disability gathered in Jerusalem for the Sixth National Self-Advocacy Conference, which they had organized.  The self-advocates all participate in the National Self-Advocacy Project initiated in 2011 by Israel Elwyn (IE) and Beit Issie Shapiro, another Israeli nonprofit working with people with disabilities.  The project’s eleven local self-advocacy groups meet at locations throughout Israel.  The National Group participates in Knesset* committee meetings, presenting position papers and giving legislators a glimpse into their lives and world, while advocating for legislation to reflect their point of view as they strive for independence and the same rights as other citizens of Israel.

Thirty professional facilitators, who provide information requested by the groups and make it cognitively and lingually accessible for the self-advocates, also attended the conference. 

Guy Simchi, who is the Supervisor – Employment of People with Disability in the Histadrut (General Organization of Workers in Israel), was invited to lecture on the conference subject chosen by the self-advocates:   Employment of People with Disability.  Group discussions that followed focused on three related subjects:  the worker’s rights, professional training, and job coaches.  IE job coaches provide workers with disabilities with support services, assisting them in learning their jobs and understanding their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.  Over one thousand and two hundred adults and 1,400 youth with intellectual and other disabilities work in full- or part-time jobs in the competitive job market with supports from Israel Elwyn, which also works with employers in a wide range of commercial and industrial workplaces to ensure that both they and the employees are satisfied.


The National Self-Advocacy Conference and the project have a common purpose:  to enable people with difficulties (as the self-advocates have decided they prefer to be called) to join together and express themselves in all areas of life.  The conference is very important for several reasons: 

  • Participants in the national leadership group oversee the choice of subjects by the local self-advocacy groups and are full partners in decisions regarding the conference agenda.

  • Public awareness of the subjects is raised:  following the conference, a position paper is prepared and presented to policy makers and members of the Knesset, making the self-advocates partners in attitude change and policy at the legislative level.

  • Self-advocates with intellectual disability from around Israel have an opportunity to meet and compare experiences in their jobs, homes, communities and other service providers.


As in past years, the self-advocates expressed their satisfaction with the results of the conference and look forward to increasing the impact their opinions have on their lives.


*   The Knesset is Israel’s legislative body.

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David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

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