OK, I don't usually post articles from abroad, but since this one involves Dr. Joel M. Levy, Co-Chief Executive Officer of YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities who at the end of the month is retiring after 40 years with our organization, I thought this seemed appropriate.
Israel lags some 15 years behind the US in its public attitudes, awareness and treatment of people with mental disabilities and intellectual challenges, according to Prof. Arie Rimmerman, a leading local expert from the University of Haifa's School of Social Work.
Rimmerman was one of thousands of academics and professionals who gathered Monday in Tel Aviv at a Welfare and Social Services Ministry-sponsored conference examining the place of the mentally disabled in society.
It's all about interaction and contact, visiting US expert and researcher Dr. Joel M. Levy, co-CEO of the YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities (YAI/NIPD), told the Post in an interview before taking the podium as the conference's guest speaker.
"Many people have had little direct contact or only limited interaction with people with disabilities," observed Levy, who was recently awarded the Burton Blatt Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in the US for his more than four decades of working with the disabled.
"Research shows that the more contact the public has with those with disabilities, the more accepting they become and go on to formulate much more positive attitudes," he said.