In 1998, the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Act was passed. The purpose of that law is to ”protect the dignity and liberty of a person with disabilities, and to provide the basis of his/her right to equal and active participation in society in all spheres of life, as well as to provide an appropriate response to his/her special needs in a manner that will enable him/her to live their life with utmost independence, in privacy and dignity and in full realization of their potential.” Not every disability a person has is visible, and it is estimated that about 20% of the population suffers from some kind of disability. The importance of protecting the rights of people with disabilities simply cannot be overestimated.
The law states that business owners, government institutions and other bodies must make the various services normally available to the general public further available for people with disabilities. The following buildings, institutions and facilities, just for example, should be turned accessible to people with disabilities: various buildings, public transportation, websites, medical services, education and welfare services, various cultural and leisure activities and facilities such as beaches, pools, parks, hotels, museums, etc.
Israeli courts are entitled to rule compensation up to NIS 50,000, without proof of damage, in the event of a claim against those who breached the law. The later might further be exposed to a class action. A class action is an important means of protecting human rights in general and of the rights of people with disabilities in particular. A class action enables a single person to file a lawsuit for due compensation for any person who suffered harm or damage as a result of the breach of the law, thereby bringing a material change in how he himself and the members of the group to which he belongs are treated in the first place. For example, a single person traveling by wheelchair can claim compensation from the owner of a place which is inaccessible for a person with such a disability, doing so on behalf of anyone who uses a wheelchair in the State of Israel and may need a service in that same place.
We believe that anyone – no matter what kind of disability he has – is entitled to active, full, adequate and enriching participation in all the spheres of human life. We represent people with disabilities in any case where the law is violated – both in individual proceedings and in class actions.