LESHEM

ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT
OF LEARNING DISABLED STUDENTS IN
HIGHER EDUCATION

Aims

Operating Principles

Projects 2004-2005

Dear Friends,
"If only every child and every teacher could wake up dyslectic one morning and try to function.... Only then will they understand me."
These words, spoken by a learning disabled student, convey the frustration, isolation, and pain that learning disabled persons suffer day in and day out.
Learning disability is an invisible handicap that affects virtually every aspect of an individual's life, each day and every hour. It is a handicap that is most difficult to grasp and to cope with because it demonstrates itself differently in every sufferer. It varies greatly in severity from person to person, and every learning disabled person has a unique mix of abilities and disabilities. In all cases though, the innumerable practical difficulties that confront the learning disabled person are compounded by constant frustration, isolation, and social rejection.
Many learning disabled students have above average intelligence, yet
without an adequate infrastructure of support, they are at risk for underachievement and failure in school, and later on in employment.
LESHEM - Association for the Advancement of Learning Disabled Students in Higher Education in Israel is a non-profit organization. It was established in February 1994 by a group of involved parents in order to obtain equality of opportunity for learning disabled students in Israel. Since then, it has worked assiduously to change the pattern of frustration and failure faced by learning disabled students.
LESHEM is a unique organization with a unique approach, mobilizing academicians and specialists in learning disabilities who volunteer their time and knowledge. It develops and operates college preparation programs and an array of support services for learning disabled students in colleges and universities throughout Israel.
The work of LESHEM has been greeted with enthusiasm by the leaders of Israel's academic community. Colleges and universities have encouraged us in our efforts and shown interest in adopting the models that we have developed. However, pressed for funds, they lack the wherewithal to finance the programs. This is why we are searching for alternative methods of financing.
Successful integration of learning disabled students in the educational system requires great effort on the part of both the students and the system. It also imposes a heavy emotional and economic burden. We need all the help we can get.


Sincerely yours,


Ruthie Kaplan, Chairperson

 

 

Introduction

Some Statistics

Aims

Principles

Accomplishments

Projects

Projects with Other Foundations

LESHEM'S Steering Committee

For further information

 

Introduction

Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders which are manifested in significant difficulties in the acquisition and application of skills in attention, speech, reading, writing, logic, and/or math. Dyslexia, one of the better known learning disability, is characterized by impairments in the perception and understanding of written signs, and hence by major difficulties in reading and/or writing.
In a certain percentage of cases, learning disabilities may be accompanied by other cognitive difficulties such as: memory and concentration problems; difficulties in organizing; behavioral problems such as impulsiveness and lack of self-control; and social problems, such as poor social perception and poor inter-personal relations.
Learning disabilities are believed to stem from impaired functioning of the central nervous system. Accumulated scientific evidence indicates that these disabilities are physiologically based and usually transmitted genetically. Other disabilities (e.g., sensory deficits, retardation, and severe emotional disturbance) may sometimes co-exist with learning disabilities, but they do not cause them. Similarly, though the problems of learning disabilities may be vastly compounded by factors such as poverty, discrimination, and poor schooling, these factors do not cause learning disabilities either.
Learning disabilities last throughout the life span and affect many areas of the individual's functioning and psychological development. For example, learning disabled individuals tend to suffer from delayed emotional development and low self-esteem. They are prone to conflicts with authority. In some cases, the enormous frustrations that result from learning disabilities lead to hostility and socially deviant behavior.
Negative attitudes and lack of social awareness of the difficulties that confront learning disabled persons can intensify the core problems. Prospects are best when the learning disabled individual is met with understanding and helped to realize the many potentials that he or she may possess.

 

Some Statistics

Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders which are manifested in significant difficulties in the acquisition and application of skills in attention, speech, reading, writing, logic, and/or math. Dyslexia, one of the better known learning disability, is characterized by impairments in the perception and understanding of written signs, and hence by major difficulties in reading and/or writing.
In a certain percentage of cases, learning disabilities may be accompanied by other cognitive difficulties such as: memory and concentration problems; difficulties in organizing; behavioral problems such as impulsiveness and lack of self-control; and social problems, such as poor social perception and poor inter-personal relations.
Learning disabilities are believed to stem from impaired functioning of the central nervous system. Accumulated scientific evidence indicates that these disabilities are physiologically based and usually transmitted genetically. Other disabilities (e.g., sensory deficits, retardation, and severe emotional disturbance) may sometimes co-exist with learning disabilities, but they do not cause them. Similarly, though the problems of learning disabilities may be vastly compounded by factors such as poverty, discrimination, and poor schooling, these factors do not cause learning disabilities either.
Learning disabilities last throughout the life span and affect many areas of the individual's functioning and psychological development. For example, learning disabled individuals tend to suffer from delayed emotional development and low self-esteem. They are prone to conflicts with authority. In some cases, the enormous frustrations that result from learning disabilities lead to hostility and socially deviant behavior.
Negative attitudes and lack of social awareness of the difficulties that confront learning disabled persons can intensify the core problems. Prospects are best when the learning disabled individual is met with understanding and helped to realize the many potentials that he or she may possess.

 

Aims

The LESHEM Association for the Advancement of learning Disabled Students in Higher Education aims to ensure equality of opportunity for students with learning disabilities, so as to enable them to realize their true potential. The professional staff of LESHEM, which run the organization and direct its activities, consists of educators and psychologists with extensive experience in working with persons who have learning disabilities.
In the absence of a unified institutional policy. LESHEM strives to:
§ Promote public awareness of learning disabilities;
§ Promote the formulation and passage of appropriate legislation;
§ Develop appropriate admissions and accommodations policies for learning disabled students at Israel's colleges and universities;
§ Establish learning disabilities support centers in Israel's institutions of higher learning;
§ Improve the professional level of the specialists working with learning disabled students.
These aims are pursued by professional volunteers and paid staff. Their pursuit is financed by contributions originating in Israel and abroad.

 

Principles

LESHEM works to raise public awareness of learning disabilities using two means:
1. Community outreach through the media
2. Direct approach to the faculty and administrations of institutions of higher learning.

 

Accomplishments

The work of LESHEM has yielded three impressive accomplishments:
The first is that the Council for Higher Education put the subject of learning disabilities on its agenda. It appointed a sub-committee, headed by Professor Ruth Beyth Marom, to investigate the subject of learning disabled students in Israel's colleges and universities. Following the Committee's recommendations, the Council for Higher Education required the Committee for Planning and Budgeting, under its auspices, to fund support activities for learning disabled students in Israel's colleges and universities.
We at LESHEM hope that other public bodies responsible for higher education in Israel (e.g. the Ministry of Education and the Center for Technological Education) will follow suit.
The second accomplishment is the innovative coaching program we developed in conjunction with "Perach", Israel's largest and most professionally run "big brother" organization. In this program we also work with the "Gruss Foundation".. some 600 students with learning disabilities are already being coached by non-learning disabled students. LESHEM is accompanying this project with professional advice and evaluation. If the project is successful, we hope to enlarge it in the coming years.
The third accomplishment is the precedent setting legislation (1998) on the rights of persons with disabilities, whether physical, emotional or scholastic. This legislation is a direct result of the joint initiative of LESHEM and other organizations led by Israel's organization of disabled persons, "B'zchut" - By Right.
In the last 10 years, LESHEM has forged close working relationships with the academic and administrative staffs of the major universities and colleges in Israel. These relationships have enabled us to implement a range of programs and projects to advance students with learning disabilities.
LESHEM has helped many institutions of higher education in Israel to formulate policies that ensure equal opportunity for learning disabled students without undermining academic standards.
While every institution retains total independence in accepting students in accord with its admissions criteria, we at LESHEM, strive to educate policy makers as to the meaning of learning disabilities. We also encourage them to provide the accommodations that will give learning disabled students the same chances for success that other students have.
Thus far, LESHEM has helped 45 universities and colleges to plan and implement programs to assist students with learning disabilities.
LESHEM works in conjunction with psychologists, educators, and the faculty and staff of the colleges and universities it assists. Once a program is put into operation, responsibility for implementing it is in the hands of the institution. LESHEM assists only in funding and consulting. We hope that in the near future these programs will be a regular part of the budget of every college and university in Israel, so that we can channel our resources to new projects.
One of the main problems facing disabled students is the dearth of well informed, experienced professionals in the fields of learning disabilities diagnosis, teaching, and guidance. LESHEM is tackling this problem in a number of way:. one is through a special course on learning disabilities for university and college personnel who deal with learning disabled students. Another is by helping to fund and organize study days to familiarize professionals and the public at large with learning disabilities. One of our major undertakings in this area was our participation in funding and organizing an international conference on adults with learning disabilities which was held in Israel in the summer of 1993.

 

Projects

LESHEM is proud of the many innovative projects it has undertaken in conjunction with Israel's colleges and universities. All of its programs include some mix of the following elements:
§ information and awareness
§ individual instruction
§ academic support
§ counseling
§ technological aids
§ coaching in various subjects
§ professional training for staff
§ instruction in learning strategies
§ policy of accommodation in teaching and evaluation


Projects with Other Foundations

Perach" - LESHEM Coaching Project
One of our main projects is a coaching project together with a big scholarship foundation called "Perach". This project provides 520 scholarships for tutors who coach students with learning disabilities. These tutors get professional training and work 4 hours a week throughout the whole academic year, helping students with learning disabilities. We have researched this project and have found it to be a great success. To date, a few thousand students have benefited from this project.

Gruss Foundation
In addition to student coaches funded from its own budget, LESHEM has recruited 80 student coaches in various colleges and universities, who receive scholarship assistance from the Gruss Foundation.

 

LESHEM'S Steering Committee

The professional staff of LESHEM consists of educators and psychologists specializing in learning disabilities. The members of the steering committee are:

The professional staff of LESHEM consists of educators and psychologists specializing in learning disabilities. The members of the steering committee are:

Ruthie Kaplan, Chairperson
Guy Finklestein: General Director.
Tamar Ilovitz, M.A.
Dr. Oren Lam
Yael Meltzer, M.A.
Dr. Amela Einat
Dr. Leah Kozminski
Dr. Michal Shani
Dr. Varda Sharoni
Dr. Orit Dahan
Dr. Ilana Ben Dror
Dr. Israel Winkler
Prof. Susan Veigal, Special Consultant
Orli Tzadok, M.A.
Zohar Avitan, M.A.
Hagit Even-Tzur, M.A.
Bini Talmay, M.A.
Dr. Nira Dansiger
David Bagliter, M.A.
Dina Del Ervzniker, M.A.
Rivka Ben-Dayan, M.A.
Orly Arbel, M.A.
Ana Bar, M.A.
Dr. Ariela Helwing
Dr. Arnona Etzion
Ran Geva, M.A.

Assistive Technology Supprt: Rachel Tamir, M.A.

 

For further information, please contact:

LESHEM
P.O.B. 4403
Jerusalem 91044
Mobile phone: 972 0523 659-956; Telefax: 972 (9) 749-8001
http://leshem.telhai.ac.il
E-mail: guyfink@bezeqint.net