Wheelchairs, strollers, vision impairment and other disabilities are accommodated at Israeli parks.
Former Israeli Air Force pilot Yuval Wagner was paralyzed in a 1987 helicopter crash. For years, his wheelchair kept him and his family from enjoying outings to Israel’s many nature parks.
But over the past 10 years, progressive legislation has pushed forward accessibility adaptations in Israel’s parks and forests, and Wagner wants everyone to know about it.
“We have friends around the world who didn’t know Israeli park accessibility is very good so they didn’t come to Israel for many years. We told them Israel is now one of the leading countries in the world for nature accessibility,” says Wagner, president of Access Israel, an advocacy and awareness nonprofit he founded in 1999. “Now they come, and they are really surprised at how good it is.”
Facilities for greater accessibility have been installed in approximately 70 national parks, archeological and heritage sites administered by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) as well as in 300 forests managed by the nongovernmental Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).
Accessibility covers everything from parking to trails, restrooms to picnic areas. Some parks have voice signage and sensory curb markers for people with visual impairment, and adaptive playgrounds and sports facilities for people with a range of disabilities.