The Southern Wheels Project

The Southern Wheels project aims to provide a regional transport system for people with disabilities in the south of Israel. The project is an initiative of the Division for Disabilities and Rehabilitation in JDC-Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Insurance Institute, the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Yad Sarah, and other bodies.
The project was initiated after the issue of transport was identified as a key problem for some 67,000 people with disabilities living in the south of the country. In the first stage, JDC-Israel mapped the difficulties faced by people with disabilities in the field of transport. Among other findings, it emerged that most of the public transport in the region is not accessible (for example, there is not a single accessible bus in the city of Dimona); people with disabilities have difficulty reaching vital services, most of which are available only in Beersheva; safety procedures are not observed; and transport costs are high due to the large distances involved.
Bizchut joined the Southern Wheels project in the implementation stage. This stage is focusing mainly on Dimona, including the upgrading of the existing transport infrastructures in the city, including volunteer transport, the use of a special accessible vehicle by Yad Sarah, and activation of accessible public transport. Bizchut is responsible for producing an information sheet detailing the rights of people with disabilities throughout Israel to transportation services. For the first time, the sheet will include in a single document all the rights of people with disabilities to receive transportation services in different fields (education, employment, health services, and leisure). The sheet will also include detailed references to different types of disabilities. Bizchut will also work to identify lacunas in the existing legislation in response to needs identified in the field. At a later stage, Bizchut plans to promote new legislation in the field of transportation, based on the conclusions drawn from the implementation stage.
Bizchut attaches great importance both to promoting the rights of people with disabilities in the south of Israel (see also our Mental Health project) and to the subject of transportation in general, which has not yet been discussed in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Many human rights, such as the right to employment, health, and a family, cannot be realized without appropriate transportation solutions. Bizchut also believes that it is important to disseminate information so that people with disabilities can secure the rights to which they are entitled from the various authorities. The Southern Wheels project is playing an important role in promoting these issues. The information sheet should be ready by December 2009.