Taglit participants visit the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf People
Taglit participants visit the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf PeopleInstitute for the Advancement of Deaf People

As thousands of young Jews visit Israel this summer on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, one group is specifically catering for those with hearing impairments or deafness.

The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf People in Israel hosted a unique day for a group from the United States, exhibiting how the organization helps the deaf and hard of hearing.

The sessions were all conducted in American Sign Language (ASL).

The guests were introduced to numerous specialist programs, including The Holocaust Memorial Program; Mesira - for the advancement of equality and accessibility in the Arab population; Israeli progress towards accessible health services and more.

Apart from the practical challenges participants face in everyday life, the sessions also dealt with more philosophical and sociological issues. 

"We brought up our life dilemmas, as Deaf people, especially Deaf women," said Nena Bar of the Institute. "One of them told me: Is this is a center for working on Deaf women's issues? She went on to say that it's amazing because she never experienced that before.

"Deaf feminism is a part of the multicultural feminist discourse. We continued discussing discrimination and equality issues in the workplace, and we saw that we have this experience in common." 

Another members of the Institute, Gal Roknian, said the session underlined how Deaf communities in both Israel and the US share much in common.

"During the meeting we realized that the history of the Deaf communities in the United States and in Israel has much in common and the grass is not always greener on the other side. 

"Together we looked at social processes that influenced Israel's image in the fields of legislature, accessibility, education, welfare and more. They said over and over again: What happens to you is like what happens to us."