Awareness regarding accessibility of infrastructure and services has increased in recent years, but in Jerusalem it is still not easy to find sites that offer accessibility, due to topographical, archaeological, and other reasons. The city, which is surrounded by hills, and full of historic locations and an abundance of preserved archaeological sites, is behind in accessible infrastructure to provide equal access for people with disabilities.
In the City of David organization, which operates multiple Jerusalem tourism sites – some located in archaeological sites – we are working day and night to ensure accessibility solutions for our visitors. The Emek Tzurim National Park, operated by the organization, has recently received an accessibility certificate, and it offers accessible parking, restrooms and customer service stations, as well as full accessibility at the site itself: accessible seating in classrooms and wheelchair accessible sifting stations.
“In the past few months, we hired a special accessibility advisor to help us overcome the challenges leading through the final approval to make the site fully accessible, Osnat Finkelstein, the ancient Jerusalem tourist site administrator, tells us. “We are now pleased to announce that everyone is welcome at the Emek Tzurim archaeological experience.”
Inside the City of David National Park, due to the site’s archaeological nature that includes many stairs, the organization is also working toward accessible solutions. In cooperation with the National Insurance Institute, the site has created models for people with disabilities in hearing and sight, that offer a variety of solutions based on experimenting, feeling and moving through space. The night show and exhibits on site offer solutions for hard of hearing people, such as audio induction loops and sound amplifying headphones.
A cognitively accessible tour is also offered, created in cooperation with AKIM, that allows access to information to those with cognitive disabilities, using adapted tools to understand the site and its historic activity. For example, a large hourglass that demonstrates the archaeological layering was designed, and as it turns, objects resembling artifacts from many years ago are revealed.
In two of the new sites built by the organization in recent years, accessibility was addressed. At the Peace Forest camping – an urban campsite in the heart of Jerusalem – an accessible campsite was built, that can be accessed directly by car, with an accessible bathroom alongside.
At the Farm at the Valley, located in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, accessible activities are available, including farm tours, use of ancient agricultural tools and experiential workshops like bread baking, perfume making and herb picking from the farm’s crops. Sarah Barnea, a tour guide for accessible tours at the Farm, believes that widely accessible activities through the different senses are the best way to learn and experience, not just for disabled people. “You don’t even need to talk much”, she says, “just to make the beauty here accessible with a lot of love. This place is a great gift”.
To book accessible activities, contact the City of David reservation center at 077-9966726
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