Deaf education in Israel

Tova Most, Amatzia Weisel, Shay Ezrachi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


THE STATE of Israel received its independence 60 years ago, in 1948. Israel is a small country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea with an area of about 20,000 square kilometers. The population of 7.3 million people includes many Jewish immigrants who moved to Israel from all around the world. New immigrants came to Israel mainly from Eastern Europe before the establishment of the state, from Arab-Muslims countries during the 1950s, from various countries including Western Europe and North and South America in the 1970s, and mainly from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. There is a large minority of Arab-Palestinians citizens, about 20% of the Israeli population, most of whom are Muslims. Hebrew and Arabic are the two formal languages of the state. Israel's educational system is characterized by religious, social, and education factors and can be broken down into four principal sectors: general state (secular) education (about 45%), religious state education (14%), Independent/Orthodox education (18%), and Arab education (23%). Despite the fact that the majority of education in Israel is financed from the state's budget, the great divisions in the educational system make it difficult to implement a unified and general educational policy, a situation that also affects the education of the deaf and hard of hearing children (Weisel, 2001). In spite of the fact that physical distances between the center and periphery of Israel are relatively small compared with such distances in other countries, access to educational and rehabilitation services often can still be problematic. As a result, deaf and hard of hearing students throughout the country and in the different sectors are sometimes unable to receive equivalent levels of educational and rehabilitation services, resulting in students from a certain sector having to study in the system of another sector. Educational programs for deaf and hard of hearing students have existed in Israel ever since the beginning of the 1930s. In the beginning, there was only one school in which most of the deaf and hard of hearing students were educated. In time, additional educational programs were established, their numbers increasing with the years, and today, there is a complex and varied system that attempts to fulfill the various and different needs of deaf and hard of hearing students. With time, many significant changes gradually occurred in this system, particularly in two main areas: students' placement in the different educational programs and access to modern medical technologies. In addition, changes took place with respect to the physical conditions within the educational programs, the professional level of the educators, and the communication clinicians as well as with respect to the educational goals and support services provided within the various educational programs for deaf and hard of hearing students. For a long time, the educational programs for deaf and hard of hearing students did not experience many significant changes. A process of significant changes occurred in the perception of special education in Israel, has been taking place only during the past 20 years, gradually moving from normalization to inclusion, a move that has also had an effect on the education for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeaf People Around the World
Subtitle of host publicationEducational and Social Perspectives
PublisherGallaudet University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781563684104
StatePublished - 2009


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