Blind Advocacy Group Sues Bus Companies Over Discrimination

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Egged bus. (RickP)

The Center for the Blind in Israel has filed a NIS 31 million lawsuit against Israeli bus companies. The class-action suit names the Dan, Egged, Kavim and Afikim bus companies for violation of laws that require accommodation of the blind on their buses.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Center, which is an umbrella organization for groups that work with the blind throughout Israel, the bus companies have failed to provide facilities to allow the blind to easily use buses.

“Buses are a basic need for this population, as they have no other way to get from place to place in order to accomplish the tasks they need to accomplish for their existence,” the lawsuit says.

“What appears to be simple and trivial for the majority of the population becomes a necessity for others. This is a struggle of those who cannot see, many of whom are not seen by others in society.”

Buses are required to announce stops over a loudspeaker so that blind riders will know where to get off. The lawsuit cited dozens of complaints about buses that failed to announce stops, along with complaints about buses that were difficult to access.

There are approximately 23,000 blind and sight-limited people in Israel, with 10% completely blind – unable to detect colors or shapes – while the other 90% are functionally blind. An additional 80,000 Israelis are thought to have serious visual disabilities that limit their mobility, the Center said.