Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced on Tuesday that Shirley Pinto, a social activist for the advancement of the rights of the deaf, among the founders of the Israeli Deaf Studies Center, has joined the New Right (HaYamin HeHadash) party list.
Pinto, only 30, was born in Kiryat Bialik to a traditional home with a right-wing outlook and now lives in Givatayim. She works at the Roderman Foundation and Link 20 for the advancement of young people with disabilities, and at the same time serves as a consultant to the mayor of Ramat Gan on disability and accessibility.
Shirley, deaf from childhood, already then felt the difficulty and lack of familiarity of her parents with sign language. As she grew older, she decided to devote her life to changing the reality for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
In 2009, she received a medal of excellence from, Major General (res.) Ido Nehushtan, then commander of the Air Force - where she did her regular army service as a logistics project manager and continued on to permanent service - and the Presidential Excellence Award from Shimon Peres.
Pinto graduated from the Netanya Academic College with a Bachelor's degree in Law, where she participated in the UN delegation in Geneva, followed by internship at the law firm of Firth, Wilensky Mizrahi Knaani & Co. (FWMK). From 2016 she has been a lecturer in sign language translation studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Her acquaintance with Minister Bennett began in 2016, when she led the campaign "I Sign, I am Equal" to increase public awareness of sign language and promote legislation for sign language as a recognized language in Israel, which garnered hundreds of thousands of supporters. Bennett also joined the campaign. Subsequent to the campaign, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev became the first university in Israel to recognize sign language as an official language for deaf people.
Pinto said, "I am happy and excited to announce that I will join the New Right list headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and I will continue to act with all my strength, as I did in the past, for people with disabilities in Israel and to be your power in the Knesset, with the goal of turning Israel into an accessible, equal and inclusive society.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked noted, "The New Right party is working to implement a right-wing policy with social sensitivity. Shirley Pinto, who succeeded at a young age in bringing to the public agenda the importance of accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, will represent the public with disabilities to the Knesset. I am sure that Shirley will work tirelessly and effectively to increase the rights that people with disabilities deserve in the best way possible."
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett added, "Shirley, a true social warrior, joins a top team of fighters for the State of Israel. Shirley is making history and breaking the glass ceiling for the deaf public in Israel when she will become the first deaf member of the Knesset and faithfully represent the rights of this community. The New Right party is engaged in all the fundamental issues in Israeli society - economy and society, security, education, health, welfare and the creation of broad agreements on religious and state issues. Together with Shirley, we will continue to strengthen Israeli society, and Israel will start winning again, in the struggle of people with disabilities as well. This is one of the moments I am most proud of since I entered the public sphere."