For over a decade, the Nalaga’at (“Please Touch” in Hebrew) Center has been operating successfully, establishing itself as a leading prominent and innovative cultural center, both in Israel and worldwide. Nalagaat serves as a meeting place for deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals and the general public.
The Nalagaat center is home to the 1. Nalagaat Theater, distinguished from other cultural centers by its deaf-blind actor ensemble, the only one of its kind in the world. Also, the center operates the 2. “Blackout” dark restaurant, 3. “Kapish” events center and 4. Workshop center, all operated by deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals.
The intention behind this unique project and one of its kinds in the world are to help integrate deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals into mainstream society, using culture as a platform to promote their rights, talents, and aspirations. This marks the uniqueness of the Nalaga’at Theater, being the first and only theater in the world to integrate deaf-blind actors into the cultural scene.
In addition to creating unique employment opportunities, the center provides deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals with professional training to develop their own talents, skills, and abilities in order to assist them in becoming self-sufficient. The center currently employs dozens of employees with sensory disabilities in the fields of administration, culture, hospitality, and education, setting a leading model for social change in Israel and abroad. the Nalagaat Center creates unforgettable cultural experiences, generating inclusion and dialogue between people with disabilities and the general public.
The Nalagaat center goals are directed both internally and externally:
On the internal level, the center aims to empower the deaf, blind and deaf-blind populations and to provide them with quality employment opportunities. On the other hand, towards the general public, the center works to promotes values such as Openness, Tolerance, Creativity, and Acceptance of differences in others and in ourselves.
Over the past three years, there has been a steady increase in every social business at the Nalagaat Center: Nalagaat Theater, “Blackout” dark restaurant, “Kapish” events center and Workshop center.
As mentioned, the Workshop center activity increased by 50% in the last 3 years, which included increasing the number of active workshops and shifting the workshops beyond the center’s boundaries in Jaffa towards the geographical and social periphery.
In the theater, the artistic repertoire was expanded with the new theater productions featuring deaf, blind and deaf-blind professional actors together on one stage. The most famous play “Not by Bread Alone”, composed of 11 deaf-blind actors has been running successfully for over a decade, still performing to this day on the Nalaga’at center theater stage and abroad. The production “Edgar”, composed of deaf-blind, deaf and blind actors won the 2017 prestigious Perlman-Genesis prize for integrating individuals with disabilities into the Israeli cultural scene.
In addition, in 2018, the center won in an international competition and received recognition from the Spanish organization “Fair Saturday” for effective doing in the field of Culture for a better society. Moreover, In 2017 Nalaga’at Center founded the “Nalaga’at Festival for groundbreaking arts” the first ever festival in Israel combine the sensory culture, deaf, blind and deaf-blind artists. The Festival is running for 3 years in a row and became a tradition for many more years to come.
To duplicate the Nalagaat unique organizational model, several conditions are required. First and most importantly, in terms of organizational procedures and accessibility, the Nalagaat Center works extensively to create an accessible organizational structure and environment that supports the employment of people with sensory disabilities at all organization levels. The center’s management has recruited many employees with sensory disabilities, with a desire to integrate them within society and give them a multidisciplinary professional horizon. All organization activities are carried out by deaf, blind and deaf-blind workers who are appropriately trained for it.
Also, the center teaches each and every new employee who can hear a course in Israeli Sign Language (beginner and advanced) so that they could communicate with the deaf workers in the most convenient way. In addition, management is taking care of the professional interpreter’s services at every meeting where a deaf person is present. The center provides tailor-made equipment for employees with sensory disabilities and more.
These organizational conditions are fundamental and important for creating an organizational structure that supports the employment of people with sensory disabilities and for creating a work environment that integrates hearing, seeing, deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals altogether.
In addition, in order to duplicate and extend the existing model, several additional conditions are required.
There are unique accessibility needs to the center’s deaf, blind and deaf-blind employees which include among others: assigning personal sign language interpreters to each deaf-blind actors and instructors at all times, adopted transportation, employing a psycho-social team and etc. In addition and since the center seeks to remove any barriers that might stand in their way, deaf, blind and deaf-blind actors receive all necessary professional tools and training prior to and during the production process.
In addition, there is a need for professionals who have experience working in the fields of art and culture, as well as working with people with sensory disabilities. This combination is essential in creating a professional and quality work environment that creates social change. the Nalagaat center has been providing audiences with an unparalleled, inspiring cultural and social experience while raising awareness of issues concerning people with disabilities in order to promote real change within society.
The Nalaga’at Center was established in 2002 by Adina Tal and Eran Gur.
Adina Tal was born and raised in Switzerland and immigrated to Israel at the age of 20. For many years she worked as an actress, playwright, and theater director. She founded the world-renown Nalaga’at Theater Company together with Eran Gur in 2002 after accepting an invitation to teach drama to a group of deaf-blind individuals – an experience that changed her life. After establishing the Nalagaat Center, Adina remained officially in the organization for 12 years, until 2014.
Regarding her motivation for doing so, Adina claimed that when she worked with a group of deaf-blind individuals for the first time in her life she came to understand that there is no limit to the human spirit. She realized that everyone has the right to accept the obligation to contribute to society because this is the only means of becoming part of society. She came to understand that there are no people with special needs because we all have special needs, that this is the story of two revolutions: the revolution of people working at the Center who are deaf, who are blind and who are deaf-blind. And just as important, there is the revolution of all the hundreds of thousands who experienced the Nalagaat work and underwent a life-changing experience. Since this is not about deafness or blindness this is about being imperfect and by accepting the imperfectness in ourselves we will be able to embrace the imperfectness existing in people around us, it is the first step towards change.
Adina said: “When I agreed in 1999 to conduct a drama workshop for twelve deaf-blind people I knew it was for two months. I did not know that this will be the world’s first professional deaf-blind theater company; I did not know this would change my life and the lives of so many other people. I loved the challenge, I loved discovering new opportunities by focusing on ability instead of on disability, and I loved creating a new theatrical language which I fell in love with. I removed the word “impossible” from my vocabulary and so I set out on my way, and since then over fifteen years have passed”.
“Adina is one of the most captivating and persuasive people I have ever met, and justly proud of what she has created.” – Mark Ball, Artistic Director LIFT Festival London