Equal in Uniform": Its impact on attitudes of soldiers without disabilities toward soldiers with intellectual disabilities
Dr. Shirli Werner Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew UniversityResearch funding: The Shalem Fund for Development of Services for People with Intellectual disabilities in the Local CouncilsBeit Issie Shapiro's 6th International Conference on Disabilities: Unity and Diversity in ActionJuly 7-8, 2015 Tel-Aviv, Israel
Current legislation and policies advocate for full and effective social inclusion and community participation of all individuals with disabilities (including ID).In Israel, military service is a mandatory and normative civil obligation. It is integral for integration within the Israeli society. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as a national melting pot.However, individuals with ID are usually exempt from military service.
Equal in UniformSince 2007, the project Equal in Uniform has brought to the recruitment of individuals with ID.
Project partners: (1) Akim Israel(2) Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services(3) IDF
Data in this study collected from 9 training programs across the country.117 individuals began the programs110 finished the training program86 moved to volunteer (24 dropped)57 meet criteria to enlist (26 dropped + 3 await)43 already drafted, 9 about to be drafted (5 dropped)22 have finished military service
Equal in Uniform in numbers
Equal in Uniform
Aims(1) Opportunity for people with ID to enlist and complete regular and meaningful military service.
(2) Enhance self-esteem and confidence.
(3) Psychological benefits to other family members.
(4) Change in societal attitudes towards individuals with ID.
Rationale: Allow people with ID to take part in this central life experience according to their abilities and needs.
Bring contact between people with ID and others within the Israeli society.
239 Soldiers without ID (130 female)
Average age 20.3 (Range 18-45)
154 were familiar with a soldier with ID
Subjective knowledge in ID: M=2.75 (from 1 to 5)Methods: Participants
Self-complete questionnaire:Attitudes toward soldiers with ID: Based on the Multidimensional Attitudes Scale (Findler et al., 2007): vignette, 13 cognitive items, 19 affective items, 10 behavior items, 4 social distance items
Imagine the following situation: Joseph and a few friends went for lunch within their military dinning room. While they are speaking, a soldier with ID that Joseph is not familiar with joins the crowd. A short introduction is made between the two, following which all other friends have to leave. Joseph needs to wait 15 more minutes for a friend. Methods: Instrument
2. Attitudes toward allowing people with disabilities to serve within the IDF?
3. Attitudes toward the inclusion of soldiers with ID: 12 items
4. Familiarity with soldier with ID, subjective knowledge in ID
5. Background informationMethods: Instrument
Results: Support of service of people with disabilities (t-test)
Type of disabilitySoldiers with familiaritySoldiers without familiarityMild physical disability3.763.37*Intellectual disability3.782.76***Deafness3.122.56**Severe physical disability3.092.60**Epilepsy3.072.60**Blindness2.762.29*Mental illness2.361.94**
Results: Correlations with knowledge and familiarity (R)
Degree of familiarity with a soldier with IDSubjective knowledge in IDWish for more knowledge in IDPositive thoughts .25**.15*.35***Not understanding social situationNegative affect -.22*Withdrawal Behavior -.18*-.17*Helping and accepting Behavior .39***.28***Social closeness .49***.19**.44***Support of service .21*.32***Important to integrate soldiers w/ID .36***.19*.45***Soldiers with ID similar to others .26***.14*Need to separate soldiers with ID -.31***-.30***
Results: Correlations between attitudes toward soldiers and attitudes towards their inclusion in the IDF (R)
Important to integrate soldiers with IDSoldiers with ID are similar to othersNeed to separate soldiers with IDPositive thoughts.51***.45***-.31***Not understanding social situation.10.06.11Negative affect-.15*-.10.20**Calm affect.15*.08-.13*Withdrawal behavior-.25***-.15*.26***Helping and accepting behavior.36***.28***-.31***Social closeness.62***.42***-.58***Support of service.57***.37***-.41***
Results: Hierarchical regression predicting behavior (4th step)
R=34.4%Helping + accepting ()R=40.4%Social closeness ()R=56.2%Wish for more knowledge-.07.05.11Positive thoughts-.14.44***.17*Not understanding social situation.16*-.00-.01Negative affect.38***-.10.08Calm affect-.02-.03.04Important to integrate soldiers w/ID-.12.00.17*Soldiers w/ID are similar to others.04.02.13*Need to separate soldiers with ID.04-.09-.33***Support of service.01.11.13*
Inclusion within IDF had a positive influence on attitude change.Familiarity resulted in reduction of fear and social discomfort in meetings. Support that social contact is the most helpful intervention for attitude change.
IDF is a central body in the Israeli society. Including soldiers with ID is a social statement of these individuals being an integral part of society.
As most individuals in Israel serve in the IDF, this is an opportunity for meeting with wide sectors of society.
ConclusionContact should be carefully planned with different soldiers with ID and those that contradict common stereotypes. Extend the program.Results should be seen in light of interviews with soldiers with ID + commanders.Is full social inclusion possible?Is it more useful to integrate soldiers with ID on their own or within a small group?What types of roles should be provided to soldiers with ID to be considered equal?
Out in 2016 Left Out: Intellectual Disability & Stigma
Katrina Scior & Shirli Werner (Eds)