17 Tchernihowsky st.
Organization of Hard of Hearing People in Israel
1997 – 2007: 10 Years of Accomplishments
More than 10 percent of the population in Israel suffers from hearing loss. Every third person above the age of 65 is hard of hearing. Hearing loss affects all levels of society and causes difficulties in socialization and communication. The obstacles to coping with hearing loss include shame and denial. Hearing loss interferes with one’s ability to communicate with the surrounding environment, thus disturbing all aspects of life.
“Bekol” is the only organization in Israel founded and managed by people who are hard of hearing. The organization works actively to improve and advance the quality of life of hard of hearing people ages 18 and above. Our work includes lobbying for laws to improve accessibility, promoting the rights of the hard of hearing, removing the barrier of shame surrounding hearing loss, and encouraging and providing tools for the hard of hearing to cope with hearing loss.
Accessibility: We improved accessibility for the hard of hearing to public institutions, by means of advancing legislation, and sending accessibility agents throughout the country. Today there are more than 30 institutions accessible to the hard of hearing public, such as theaters, museum and universities.
TV Subtitles: We lobbied the government and broadcasting networks in order to increase the number of programs broadcast on television with subtitles. Thanks to our efforts 50 percent of the programs now being broadcasted include subtitles. The number will gradually grow to 100 percent of all programs.
Demonstration and Guidance Centers: We created with partners 3 demonstration centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, displaying and demonstrating assistive listening devices.
Increasing Awareness: We hold symposiums and public events to increase public awareness to hearing loss. “The Song of Man” – public sing-along for both hearing and hard of hearing persons, has been held for seven consecutive years for more than 1,000 guests in Tel Aviv.
Information Hot line: We run an information and support hot line for the hard of hearing and their families. In the year 2007 more than 3,500 people called our hot line. We also created a website, with 200 site visits daily.
Our Organization: Bekol is governed by seven voluntary board members of directors, who themselves are hard of hearing. We have 10 full and part time employees and 180 grassroots volunteers who assist in a variety of activities.