Bekol



Bekol
, established in 1997, is a unique self-help association founded and directed by people with hearing loss. Bekol is the only organization in Israel that works to integrate hard-of-hearing adults (ages 18 and up) into the general society by addressing problems of legislation, accessibility, work, etc.

The Board of Trustees includes seven men and women, all hard of hearing, who volunteer their time, energy and experience to improving the quality of life of the hard of hearing.  Bekol is managed by a professional and dedicated staff including certified hearing care providers and social workers, as well as over two hundred volunteers professionally trained for their specific tasks. They actively reach out to communities in Israel to disseminate information about hearing aids, assistive hearing devices and communication technologies. They also work with local and the National Government to promote accessibility in public places and increase equality of opportunity, for example in the workplace, for the hearing impaired.

The Need

Recent statistics find that over 10% of the population in the Western world suffer from some degree of hearing loss. A recent study in Israel showed that over 600,000 people admit to having problems with their hearing.

 The Israeli law for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities was passed in 1998 but those rights are still far from being equal.  The great majority of the hard of hearing loose their hearing as maturing adults and find it difficult to access vital oral information and modern technology.  This results in isolation in their workplace, from social activities, from their own families and from help. When hearing loss goes unaided, the person is often shunned, treated with impatience or as unintelligent or suffering from dementia.  We all have someone near to us, struggling with the isolation and the stigma that accompanies hearing loss.  There is no reason for this situation to exist today.

Who is Served?

Through the grass-root efforts of Bekol, positive changes are taking place in Israel for the betterment of the whole society through better conditions for its hearing impaired members.  After 15 years of success in serving communities centered on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, Bekol has set the goal to reach out to all hard of hearing adults wherever in Israel they are located.  Bekol is applying its experience and expertise to help adults with hearing loss who reside in the periphery or with mobility limitations.  A special outreach effort is made to include minority communities.  These activities include, among others, dissemination of information in various languages, establishing support groups, individual audiological consulting, support in pursuing career opportunities, and more.

Overall activities of the organization:

Since its foundation Bekol has successfully marked the following achievements:

Lobbying and advocacy:

  • Actively supported the Israeli Law for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities.
  • Successfully lobbied the national government and broadcasting networks to introduce legislation for TV subtitles to be included gradually in all Hebrew broadcasts.
  • Successfully secured national legislation regarding health benefits for hard of hearing people, especially the inclusion of cochlear implants and hearing aids in the public health insurance coverage.
  • Fought for equal rights in all aspects of life, especially in employment and education.
  • Conducts and on-going effort to ensure accessibility of all public places to the hard of hearing community.
  • The hotline is staffed by trained volunteers and provides information both factual and technical, as well as emotional to over 3,000 people a year.

Hotline for information and support services:

Demonstration and Guidance Centres:

  • Centres in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa carry exhibits of hearing assistive devices and offer guidance in using them. Hundreds of people a year receive this free guidance from Bekol members trained especially for this task.
  • Courses in the various aspects of living with hearing loss are provided to members at a nominal fee; self-help groups, guided by professionals provide information and support, as well as a social network.
  • The Bekol Mobile Hearing Unit travels across Israel to reach those who live in small towns and villages. Its mission is to provide information to those who live far away so that their quality of life, as well as that of their families, can be improved.
  • The three hour program includes a lecture about hearing loss, the ways it affects our lives, the help available and the ways to access this help. Students for Communication Disorders screen the attendants for hearing loss and a certified hearing professional advises each person individually discussing options for getting help.
  • The mobile hearing unit serves people with hearing loss across Israel, particularly, but not exclusively, those in the periphery and seniors who often have mobility limitations.
  • In 2012, the mobile unit visited over 70 locations, serving over two thousand people country wide, serving in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic (especially in the Bedouin sector) and Russian.
  • Increased public awareness to issues surrounding hearing loss through symposiums and public events. In recent years these activities reached over 10,000 people a year.
  • Improved accessibility for the hard of hearing to public institutions. Today over 30 institutions including universities, museums and theatres are accessible to the hard of hearing.

 Mobile Hearing Unit

  • The Bekol Mobile Hearing Unit travels across Israel to reach those who live in small towns and villages. Its mission is to provide information to those who live far away so that their quality of life, as well as that of their families, can be improved.
  • The three hour program includes a lecture about hearing loss, the ways it affects our lives, the help available and the ways to access this help. Students for Communication Disorders screen the attendants for hearing loss and a certified hearing professional advises each person individually discussing options for getting help.
  • The mobile hearing unit serves people with hearing loss across Israel, particularly, but not exclusively, those in the periphery and seniors who often have mobility limitations.
  • In 2012, the mobile unit visited over 70 locations, serving over two thousand people country wide, serving in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic (especially in the Bedouin sector) and Russian.

Awareness Raising:

  • Increased public awareness to issues surrounding hearing loss through symposiums and public events. In recent years these activities reached over 10,000 people a year.
  • Improved accessibility for the hard of hearing to public institutions. Today over 30 institutions including universities, museums and theatres are accessible to the hard of hearing.