Israel marks the International Day of “People of Determination” at its pavilion in Expo2020 Dubai

In recognition of the International Day of People of Determination marked yesterday (Friday, December 3), the  Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), Access Israel NGO, Start-Up Nation Central, and the Ministry of Regional Cooperation hosted a range of startups in the Israeli pavilion which is led by the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Expo2020 Dubai. The startups, from both Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), presented attendees with their most advanced accessibility technology.

As part of the unique presentation created by Access Israel, the visitors were invited to perform an urban obstacle course that enabled able-bodied people to experience the type of access challenges that disabled people who use wheelchairs or who are blind/visually impaired experience daily. This activity is part of an international collaboration supported by Google and Friends of Access Israel (FAISR).  The partnership seeks to create an exchange of know-how and accelerate the development of aids for people with disabilities, who account for 15% of the world population, concurrently achieving one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The venture works to increase the awareness of the rights of people with disabilities, or People of Determination, as they are called in the UAE, to full equality. As a result of the activity, visitors to the Expo had a chance to experience for themselves what it’s like to live with disabilities and at the same time discover unique and practical solutions developed in Israel.

The Israeli technologies on display at Expo2020 Dubai include an Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) device developed by Voiceitt; medical technology and innovative communication technologies produced by EyeControl; an AI-based motion control system that analyses wheelchair seating positions developed by ReSymmetry; and a panoramic, 3D photography system that identifies accessibility obstacles in a range of terrains, including urban environments. Mahran Hamdan, the captainofIsrael’s 2016 world cup-winning national wheelchair basketball team, also participated in the event.

Yuval Wagner, chair of Access Israel, a leader in promoting accessibility and social integration of people with disabilities, regards the Expo as an excellent opportunity for regional collaboration of knowledge, models, and technologies to improve the quality of life of 15% of the world’s population.

Merav Davidian, accessibility Officer at JNF, stated, “accessibility is a guiding principle at JNF, which offers 250 accessible sites in Israel. We will persist in our efforts to make Israeli nature accessible to all while protecting the environment and the topography.”

Michal Seror, Director ecosystem development at Start-Up Nation Central, commented, “The Israeli innovation ecosystem offers multiple technological solutions to a global challenge with the hope of enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and achieving a more precise lateral integration. Start-Up Nation Central regards the display of the Israeli techonolgy in Dubai as a direct continuation of our long-term partnership with the UAE.”

JNF, Access Israel, Start-Up Nation Central, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, Google, and FAISR also created a collaborative social event to increase awareness. One hundred people with and without disabilities jointly created the logo of the International Disability Alliance on the Expo lawn by holding up blue umbrellas.

Accessible Hanukkah: on December 5, an accessible candle-lighting event will be held with an accessible Hanukkah menorah developed by Impact Labs and printed on a 3D printer. Product designers developed a special lighter that allows people with arm and hand disabilities to light the candles without the need for assistance. Concurrently,  Access Israel, JNF, Google, and FAISR will hold a sports event featuring wheelchair basketball, blind football, a running race for the visually impaired, blind lawn bowling, and more.

About the Israeli Pavilion 

The Israeli Pavilion is a project led by the Ministry of Foreign affairs, the pavilion is designed without walls, for maximum openness, attendees of Expo 2020 and beyond are invited to the Israel pavilion.

Israel is a place of innovation, offering a vision and horizon in dealing with the challenges of humanity. The pavilion has an emphasis on issues  such as; agriculture, water, medicine, communications and cyber problems. The pavilion will showcase its open and diverse society that provides equal rights to all its inhabitants, it is a society that respects different people and cultures and is a recognised and respected state among participating nations.

The Pavilion is to act as a platform for future business development – an initial point of contact between Israelis and trade partners visiting the exposition.