#ZeroCon16: More Than 500 Participants, 35 Sessions, Uncountable Encounters

The fifth Zero Project Conference on “Inclusive Education and ICT” has proven to be a huge success. More than 500 participants from 70 countries attended the official opening ceremony on Thursday, 11th February, in the United Nations Office in Vienna in person, many more via the accessible online livestream. In her keynote, Judy Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights to the US State Department under President Barack Obama, highlighted the importance of offering inclusive education for children and adults with disabilities – especially in poor and middle income countries, where a very large percentages of children with disabilities are not even in school.

Judy Heumann: “Our stories are powerful. Our fight for equality is just and it is our responsibility to make it happen.”

Zero Project Award: 98 Innovative Practices and Policies in 2016

©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

During the traditional Zero Project Award ceremony on Wednesday, 10th February, 86 innovative practices and 12 innovative policies from more than 40 countries were distinguished for their positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

German actor Samuel Koch, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a live-broadcast accident on a popular German TV show, shared some of his experiences in a very personal address to the participants. Even though equal rights are an important issue, he concluded “nobody has an advantage if we just demand and enforce the law without changing the hearts of people.”

A New Zero Project Highlight: Technology Show

©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

Being held for the first time at the Zero Project Conference, the Technology Show was a much anticipated highlight closing the first day. Exemplary projects like a mouth controlled 4D-Joystick, a speech visualizer, a system to control computers with the eyes only, hearing implants and a mouth controlled computer mouse let alone a computer animated avatar that translates videos to sign language were presented in an entertaining live show.

Read our full conference retrospective here.