Name: The Empowerment Program at Bar-Ilan University’s School of Education
Location: Bar-Ilan University, Israel
Program Description: The Empowerment Program at Bar-Ilan University’s School of Education operates within the framework of the Master’s degree program in Mental Disabilities under the auspices of the Lois Alberto Machado Chair for Research on Cognitive Modifiability and the Development of Intelligence. The Empowerment Program provides students with Intellectual Disability (ID) the opportunity to participate in college-level academic instruction. Developed and directed by Prof. Hefziba Lifshitz-Vahav, head of the Specialization in Intellectual Disability, the Empowerment Program offers three stages of academic inclusion depending on the students’ level of function, including full integration into standard college courses and the ability to receive college credit for qualified individuals. The Program is the first of its kind in Israel, and one of a handful of such programs that exist in the world.
“When my daughter meets non-disabled people and tells them about her studies at Bar-Ilan – their eyes open wide in amazement – they simply can’t believe it’s true! As her mother, I’m constantly amazed anew. The academics, the faculty support, the companionship of the regular students, and the challenge of standard coursework give my daughter a very, very good feeling, a fantastic self-image, and most importantly a strong desire to keep learning, advance and achieve.” – Mother of one of the participants in the Empowerment program
“I congratulate Prof. Hefziba Lifshitz-Vahav and her staff upon their receipt of the Ruderman Prize in Inclusion. At the same time, I extend my deep appreciation to the Ruderman Family Foundation and to the Ruderman family for their recognition of the significance of the Empowerment Project. This program proves that its participants, who suffer from intellectual disabilities, have much hidden potential that can be manifested in full under the right conditions.” – Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President of Bar-Ilan University