Yuval Wagner, founder of Access Israel

President Reuven Rivlin marked the 20th anniversary of Accessibility Israel on Sunday.

The disabilities group over two decades has worked tirelessly to change the public perception of space and accessibility for people with disabilities.

Founder and president Yuval Wagner, and CEO Michal Rimon spoke at the event.

Rivlin was given a report summarising the group’s activities.

For Yuval, paralysed from the neck down following an injury sustained as an Air Force pilot in 1987, the gathering was a landmark occasion 20 years after corresponding with then-President Ezer Weizman on how tough it was to move about in public spaces.

Weizman invited Yuval to establish Accessibility Israel.

Wagner said it was unbelievable how a letter created years of activity to promote accessibility for people with disabilities.

“It is nothing less than a revolution,” he told guests.

“From a country that was absolutely not accessible, not physically, not socially and not in terms of services, it is now a State with legislated equality of rights and accessibility.

“Twenty years on, Israel is much more accessible and allows those with disabilities to live better despite their limitations.”

Rivlin expressed appreciation for the group’s founders.

He recalled meeting MK Ilan Gilon after a speech at the Knesset when he noted that a society that did not care those who needed help was not worth of being called ‘a society’.

“I was deeply impressed by his words, and since then quote this statement often,” he said.

“It is our duty to take care of all those who have physical or other disabilities.

“Accessibility should be taken for granted. It is not enough to legislate regarding accessibility, there must be regulations that are enforced.”

Beit Hanassi security department underwent training with Accessibility Israel to adapt checks and assistance for visitors with disabilities.

By Natalie Ash