Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Disposal of a stolen and found car

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Unexpectedly, the police found my stolen car. Then it took them five days to figure out that I need to be contacted via FAX rather than via voice phone call.

Appeal to all designers of forms and office procedures: in every place you ask for an applicant’s phone number, please allow for the possibility that he/she is having a FAX machine rather than regular telephone.

When I received the FAX from the police, it reminded me of situations, like the one depicted in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s book “Enemies, a Love Story“, in which one lost a wife long time ago, went on with life, remarried and then the lost wife showed up again. The car, which served me for several years, no longer had a place in my life.

The car was found at entrance to a settlement in Samaria. The police had it towed to a lot in Ariel (also in Samaria), which is used to store cars after accidents and after recovery from car thieves. I found that the car grew aerials - apparently to make an impression and discourage policemen from stopping the car and closely inspecting it.Borg-ified Car

Today I disposed of the car for a pittance, after having gotten an offer from a company, which buys cars for disassembly and disposal. If I were to leave the car there for few more days, while trying to round up better offers, I’d have to pay 90NIS a day as storage fee, from which only the first two days are free.

Thankfully, the official bureaucracy involved in selling off a car for disassembly consisted only of one form, filled by the lot’s attendant. If the car were to be returned to regular use, I and the buyer would have had to go to the local police station and arrange for a “car release form” (whatever it is).

A cellphone and people, who relayed for me FAX and SMS messages (first of all, my father), were instrumental in speedy resolution of the above.

Car on its last way before disassembly

The launch of the Web site

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Last Wednesday evening, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel together with some partners (Joint Israel, Joint USA and Globes) launched the Sela information Web site in memory of Dr. Israel Sela. The event was held in Danny House, Hatikva quarter, Tel Aviv. At this opportunity, the Institute also celebrated its 13th year of existence.

The new Web site is intended to be a portal for information and news, which concern the Deaf Community in Israel.

In this event, I saw several faces, which I saw also in the commemoration event two evenings earlier in the Deaf Club in Holon.

The evening started with the obligatory speeches by representatives of the partners to the Web site. Some of them told us about some of their memories from working with Dr. Israel Sela. Others - about the ideology which promotes integration of deaf employees in workplaces.

Guy Saad, vice president of business development and Internet in Globes, told us about the following saying: “Someone, asking for something, may be silly for five minutes. But someone, who is not asking for anything, will be silly all his life.” This was in the context of the story about a deaf person, who was laid off, after holding a job for 18 years, and then searched 4 years for another job.

The evening did not consist only of obligatory speeches and presentation of the new Web site, but had also an academic part and an artistic part.

The academic part consisted of a lecture by Dr. Gilad Ravid from Ben-Gurion University about dealing with information overload by the individual and the community. Some figures from his lecture: the amount of saved information created each year by humans is about one hexabyte (1018 bytes), which is equivalent to about half a million times the information in the American Library of Congress. The amount of information created but not saved (phone conversations - voice and FAX, TV broadcasts, E-mail, etc.) is about three times larger than the above.

The per capita information is equivalent to a full CD-ROM per year per capita. A single weekend issue of Globes has information equivalent to all information, to which a 17th century man was exposed during lifetime.

During the last few years, there were few information provision developments in the Internet - Wikis and blogs. Information consumption technologies were developed as well - search engines, recommendation systems (such as Amazon), tags (such as Another development was in balancing between pull-type information and push-type information.

The lecturer spoke also about research of the response of virtual communities to changes in information load - both downwards and upwards.

The artistic part of the evening consisted of two stories told by two Deaf storytellers, who rendered their stories in Sign Language.

Commemorating the Deaf victims of the Holocaust

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

On the evening of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, a special memorial event was held in the Deaf Club in Holon. The event commemorated the Deaf victims of the Holocaust and celebrated those who survived the Holocaust, some of whom were present in the event. It was the first time such a special event was held.

The Neve Arazim Community Center hall, in which the event was held, was full and several people stood due to lack of sitting places. It was noted that not only elderly people came, but also young people, who showed interest in the Holocaust.

After the compulsory standing up in memory of the Holocaust victims, we were treated to a series of lectures and stories, culminating at screening of a short movie.

First of all, a short lecture by Miriam Aviezer, a documentarist from Yad Vashem. She discussed the relatively new project of getting testimonials from Deaf survivors of the Holocaust. So far twenty stories were videotaped. There are more survivors to be reached.

The next speaker was Joseph Komem, CODA (hearing child of Deaf adult) who survived the Holocaust thanks to a Deaf Polish friend of his father.

The academic lecture was delivered by Dr. Amatzia Weisel from Tel Aviv University. He discussed the slippery road, which started with the Eugenics movement in USA. Between 1933-1940, about 350 thousand people were sterilized in Germany, under the 1933 law for improving the race. Later, between 1939-1941, under Operation T4, about 250 thousand German children with disabilities were killed. The organizational methodology and technology developed to get rid of them was used later to kill millions of Jews.

In the 1920’s, there were more than 800 teachers in German Deaf schools, and they taught 6000 Deaf students each year. Thus, the German Deaf were taken care of and were educated. However, ten years later the tide public opinion went the other direction - in support of sterilizing and exterminating them. The first leaders of the Israeli Deaf Community were former students of German Deaf schools.

The slippery road starts with the idea that person A assumes the right to decide if the life of person B is worthy of being lived. He who begins to rank people according to importance of their lives, ends with execution of hundreds of thousands of people. There was a famous German doctor, who proposed to sterilize almost 30% of the German population and to exterminate part of them. The eugenic ideology took root in public opinion because it was supposed to help the Germans win the war and strengthen Germany.

We must remember and never forget that all humans were created in God’s shape.

The next speaker was Hava Savir. She and her husband knew personally some German Deaf persons, who were sterilized.

The last speaker was Jacob Ehernfeld, a Deaf holocaust survivor. He told the tale of his Holocaust experience and survival. He finished his lecture with a moving tale of his reunion with other survivors from his group. He was the only Deaf in his group, and taught his fellows Sign Language, and those who survived still remembered the signs fifty years later.

The evening ended with screening of a short movie, produced by Ido Granot, about a trip of a group of Deaf persons to the concentration camps in Poland at 2001.

The memorial event was organized by The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel in cooperation with the Deaf Club in Holon.

A Swedish hard of hearing pilot is circumnavigating the earth

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Johan Hammarström is a Swedish hard of hearing pilot. His life dream was to be an airplane pilot. His initial attempts to apply for pilot license were thwarted because his hearing loss is about 65dB. Regulations in effect at the time allowed maximum hearing loss of 45dB.
He fought the authorities, and was successful in getting permission to have pilot license after an audiologist tested him and proved that he can clearly understand instructions from control towers under the circumstances in effect in airplanes.

(In USA, there are deaf airplane pilots. But they are restricted to flying in areas without radio contact.)

Now, Johan Hammarström is flying around the world and is trying to raise consciousness of the world to the hard of hearing, and to raise the aspirations of hard of hearing youths.

Today Johan Hammarström is in Israel, about two weeks after starting his journey.

This evening (27 March 2006) he gave a presentation about his project and his struggles in Bekol’s Wolf Chagle’s center of accessibility for the hearing impairment. The room was packed full with attendants. Two people from the Swedish embassy came as well. One of them told us of her childhood experience with fingerspelling signs and how the hearing schoolchildren learned them in order to communicate without the teacher noticing.

Hammarström’s presentation was made accessible by assistive listening devices (for those hard of hearing, who understand English) and by a notetaker who listened to the English lecture and typed in Hebrew (for the deaf and/or those who do not know English).

Addition from April 4, 2006: an article in Haaretz’s Web site about Johan Hammarström.

Lack of accessibility kills people (cont'd)

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Tomorrow, Monday 9 January 2006, the organizations of and for the hearing impaired in Israel will hold a memorial event (combined with demonstration) in memory of Shmuel Katz Z”L, who was killed a month ago in a train accident, whose root cause is lack of accessibility of the train to people with hearing and sight impairments.

The memorial event will be held at 18:00 in the entrance to the Hagana train station, Tel Aviv.
Few weeks ago, I wrote about the accessibility problems of Israel Railways.

The Web site of Israel Railways is at They list the following E-mail address for suggestions/remarks/comments:

Visit to the Neeman Library in TAU

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Today I came again to the Neeman Library in Tel Aviv University (last time was before the Hamakor General Assembly on Sunday Dec. 18). The purpose of my visit was to read papers about the workings of the human visual and auditory systems, for a project.

Today I read an interesting paper published at 1968 by someone called Yilmaz.

After reading the paper, I went to the librarian responsible for running searches and asked her to search for Yilmaz’s biography and list of publications.

Power went out and the librarian’s computer turned off.

After few minutes, power came back. The librarian turned on her PC, and after the computer finished rebooting, she started running a search.

Power went out again.

I joked with her that “Someone” (with capital S) does not want me to know about Yilmaz. I decided to call it a day and go back home.

As I approached the exit of the library’s building, power came back.

What I did last Saturday night

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

Like other 200,000 Israelis, I attended Itzhak Rabin’s memorial event, which was held in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, Israel.
After the event, I wrote an article about my take of the event’s
accessibility to hearing impaired people.

The 5th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Day

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

The 5th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Day was held in Tel Aviv University, Mexico Building on last Thursday 27th October 2005. The Day was jointly sponsored by the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel (contact information in English) and the Tel Aviv University Student Association.

The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel celebrated its 13th year of operation. When they started the pilot project for helping deaf and hard of hearing students in Israeli postsecondary educational institutions, in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute (the Israeli counterpart of Social Security), they helped 6 students. Now they are serving 300 students in a full spectrum of topics of study.

The formal program of the event consisted of three parts:

  • Handing out of scholarships
  • Panel discussion about the world of work in Israel and integration of people with special needs into it
  • Art program


Five scholarships, donated by the Globes newspaper and by Motorola Israel, were handed out. In her acceptance speech, one of the scholarship recipients, Yifat Ben-Zeev, a M.A. student in conflict resolution, pointed out the difficulties she endured in her B.A. studies before Sign Language interpreting or notetaking were available to students. Today’s situation is a dream relative to the situation several years ago.

Panel Discussion

The panel discussion hosted two employers of deaf persons, three administrators of various rehabilitation programs, and two working deaf employees.

There was one glaring accessibility problem in the event. The hall, in which the formal program was held, is not accessible to people with wheelchairs. They are forced to stay in the hall’s back and they cannot reach the podium where speeches are made. The representative of the Tel Aviv University Student Association told the audience that they are fighting for full accessibility of the university halls.

It is easier to make workplaces accessible to hard of hearing employees than to deaf employees. This is because the hard of hearing need only equipment, which is one-time cost (plus deprecation), whereas the deaf need Sign Language interpreter or notetaker, and this is a recurring expense.

Today, the bottleneck in employing people with special needs is with educating the employers. Self-help NGOs which work with people with special needs serve the important role of bridging between the know-how accumulated in them and the employers, who were not exposed yet to this know-how.

In the past, deaf boys learned metal working and deaf girls learned to be seamstresses, and everyone was happy with this state of affairs. Today several well-paying professions need a M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Accordingly, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel and the National Insurance Institute started a pilot program for helping deaf and hard of hearing students study for their M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Today there are 50 students in the pilot.

Art Program

The art program was supposed to include a group of drummers. However, they did not show up. The other three artist groups did show up. One of them was a group of folk dancers. The second was a single woman, who rated a wow wow. The third was a couple of man and woman acrobats.

The wow wow woman had a rubber-like body and danced her way into and out of all kinds of seemingly impossible positions. She had plenty of talent left over, and she poured large part of it into making the dance a sensuous one. Her clothes, while covering most of her skin, were uncovering her beauty. Overall, this was a wow wow.


Friday, August 5th, 2005

After all, to my big surprise, I won a prize in the August Penguin 4 prize drawing near the end of the event. I already own a copy of the book which I won, so I was given another (and much thinner) book instead.

This event marked the real end of my first year as the Accessibility Coordinator of Hamakor.

The story starts with the AP3 (August Penguin 3) prize drawing a year ago. I had a prize drawing ticket number. There was a drawing. Someone won. All announcements were made using vibrating air molecules. No one was charged with the task of writing down the winning numbers. So I had no way to know whether my number won. After AP3 I wrote about this, and the response was that I was right - there was an accessibility problem in AP3.

ladypine asked me if I am willing to volunteer to work on improving accessibility. I accepted the job and took over the title “Accessibility Coordinator”. During the year which elapsed since then, I gave two lectures about accessibility in Linux (in Haifux and in Telux lecture No. 28). I owe thanks to Ori Idan, for his help in filling in the blindness relevant information.

As preparations for AP4 (August Penguin 4) started, I became more involved. The first order of business was to ensure that the chosen location is accessible to people with mobility impairment. The Israel Accessibility Web site was helpful with this. I appreciate the cooperation, which I got from Limor Ben-Yossef. She let me know which locations are being considered, so that I could check for information about their accessibility.

After a location was selected, it was time to consider accessibility for blind and hearing impaired people. Blind people need a copy of presentations in their own Braille-enabled PCs. However, no one requested assistance with this.

Hearing impaired people need one of few accessibility provisions: Wireless microphone for HOH (hard-of-hearing), typist (notetaker) with laptop and projector and/or Sign Language interpreter for the deaf. I publicized a call for interested people in a forum of HOH and deaf people asking anyone, who wants to come to AP4, to let me know about this. I got zero responses. So I needed to arrange for accessibility only for myself.

Here again I got cooperation. I took upon myself to book a notetaker. I indicated that neither projector nor Sign Language interpreter are needed. AP4 organizers agreed to let the notetaker enter without payment. I asked to reserve a cluster of 5 chairs for the notetaker and four hearing-impaired people. Again, no problems.

Few days before the event, I publicized a call for interested hearing impaired people, with intention of asking for a projector and screen at the last moment, should there be more demand. I received one response.

In AP4 itself, the decision to bring extension electrical cord paid off. I got electrical power for the laptop from a socket several meters away from where we sat. One of the workers secured the cord to the floor using maskingtape. Initially, there was a problem with a desk. However it was solved by our using the Geeks’ desk until they needed it during the AP Trivia Contest.

Until lunch break, the notetaker served two hearing-impaired people - me and another person, whose name is not disclosed here due to privacy considrations. At lunch he left the event and until the end I was the sole beneficiary of this accessibility provision. It proved to be adequate for the event, as evidenced by the fact that I could contribute an audience answer to one of the Trivia Contest questions (another way to determine the bandwidth of snails vs. Bezeq ADSL links).

I noticed that the organizers were thoughtful to put a big screen with status information in the Exhibitors’ and APCHI contest hall. The big screen alternated between the APCHI contest participants’ status and the most up-to-date schedule of the AP4 lectures. The screen was useful as another accessibility measure for the hearing impaired, as in AP3 I had another rant about not knowing when will the current lecture end. I assume that the screen was helpful also to all participants and to the event organizers, who needed not be bothered by participants wandering on the halls and asking for starting time and subject of the next lecture.

When the prize drawing began, ladypine made a point of ensuring that the notetaker does type down the numbers of winning cards. When my card’s number came up, I at first stared with unbelief. It is so Douglas Addamsish to win a drawing the very first time after a drawing, which was inaccessible to me.

What is 15797? It was my winning number.

Hebrew Book Week

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

Yesterday evening I went to the Hebrew Book Week in Yehoshua Gardens in Tel Aviv.
The booths were longer than what I remember from previous years. Some of the booths belonged to small book publishers. However, I did not notice poets trying to sell their poems outside of the booths.
It took me three hours to traverse all the booths, even though I skipped quickly booths featuring children’s and religious books.

I went out with one book - a book about the process and psychology of decision making. I also left few billions of red blood cells in the area, as I donated blood in Magen David Adom’s vehicle, outfitted with booths and equipment for donating blood, which was there.

Outside the area, there were few people trying to sell secondhand books. One of them had three issues (No. 1,2,3) of “Cosmos” - an Hebrew language Science Fiction publication, which existed before Fantasy 2000. The original price of the issues was 35 Israeli pounds per issue. The seller wanted 100NIS for the three of the issues. My offer was limited to 50NIS.

If anyone else buys those “Cosmos” issues, may I borrow them from the crazy and lucky buyer for reading?