People with disabilities suffer from negative stigmas and stereotypes in ways that include a general impression of their personality and abilities. These stigmas and stereotypes sometimes lead to their exclusion from the public sphere, discrimination against them in education and employment, and even direct manifestations of violence towards them. The Arison Foundation, Roderman Foundation, and the Fishman Group joined forces to bring about a change in attitudes of the public and decision-makers towards people with disabilities. As part of a joint initiative - Urban Accessibility Index 2016 - they approached aChord Center to conduct a comprehensive study on the psychological infrastructure that underpins the public's attitudes towards people with disabilities. This is essential to assist in the direction and effectiveness of programs for people with disabilities.
The study was based on a sample of 3068 participants from 20 selected cities in Israel. The findings show, among other things, that a large percentage of the Israeli public agrees with the common stereotype that people with disabilities are "warm" and have "low abilities." More than half of respondents reported high levels of threat stemming from the desire to maintain a "healthy self", and that feelings of embarrassment, helplessness, and sadness are experienced at a high level in relation to people with disabilities, which may lead to a desire to distance themselves from people with disabilities. On the other hand, there were high levels of empathy, which is related to a high willingness to help others, but not necessarily to the willingness to be in contact with the object of empathy or to support their integration into the public sphere.
2019 Index ('Summary of Findings' in English, p. 6)