Helen Keller

Helen Keller and Beethovens No. 9

In a platonic tradition, education begins with the idea that, with the proper efforts, nothing can prevent you from a true understanding of anything. Helen Keller is an example of such determination and her books and biography exposed many children (like the author of these lines) to the adversity that persons with disabilities experience in their life, and to the pure joy of overcoming them.

For instance, this deafblind woman describes in a letter her experience of the Symphony No. 9 of Beethoven, directly from the vibration of her fingertip. You can find the full letter on the website letters of notes, and even listen to an audio version.

To promote zero barriers in education is what the Zero Project 2016 was designed for and its purpose is to spread awareness how children with disabilities being educated and included in a regular classroom, could become renowned authors and activists just like Helen Keller.


Zero Project will be at the EASPD Annual Conference, 22-23 October 2015

The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD, one of the partners of the Zero Project) dedicates its next annual conference on Inclusive Teaching Programmes. This theme falls in the line with the Zero Project current topic of on Inclusive Education and ICT. The conference will be held in St-Virgil Conference Centre, in the city of Salzburg (Austria).


You are invited to register and to consult practical information on EASPD’s website.

The deadline for registering is 10th October 2015.


On Friday 23 October, Michael Fembek (Director of the Zero Project) will contribute to a panel debate concerning developing teaching programmes with a universal design. The panel will take place just before lunch break from 11h00 – 12h30.

Along with Dr. Fembek, there will be three other panelists:

·         Stein Erik Ohna a Professor in Education at the Stavanger University, Norway,

·         Jurgen Willems, teacher at the Scheppers Instituut, Belgium

·         And a student with disabilities from the SOB, Austria

You can consult the full programme by following this link.


Submit examples of inclusive education to UNESCO

The website www.inclusive-education-in-action.org aims to collect a large range of examples to support policy makers, teacher educators and other stakeholders to critically examine their existing teacher education systems and further develop teacher education policy and practice.

This initiative is carried out by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, on behalf of UNESCO. A ‘demonstration example’ can be seen here. You have until 16thOctober to send your completed example. Visit also their website to know more about the UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education.

All the panelist at CRPD Side event on Inclusive Education2015

From Right to Practice – Report from a CRPD Side event on Inclusive Education (28/8/2015)

During the 14th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a side event was held on August 28th, 2015, in Palais Wilson, Geneva. In a previous post we already told you a little bit about it: the event was sponsored by Inclusion International and the topic was “Inclusive Education: From Right to Practice“.

Michael Fembek, Director of the Zero Project, presented the result of our call for nomination of Innovative Practices and Policies (337 received from 98 countries, from which 200 shortlisted were already). He also discussed the potential interest of the upcoming report for the CRPD: It could serve as a good database of scalable example for policy makers and local organisations.

Michael Fembeck, Director of the Zero Project at CRPD Side event on Inkclusive Education2015

Michael Fembeck, Director of the Zero Project at CRPD Side event on Inkclusive Education2015

At the event, which was chaired by Klaus Lachwitz, President of Inclusion International, also Maureen Piggot, President of Inclusion Europe; Osamu Nagase, regional representative for the Asian-Pacific region of Inclusion International; Fatma Wangare, Chief Executive Officer of the Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) in Kenya; and Diane Richler former President of Inclusion International; intervened.

You can download the complete report of the session, with the speeches of all six panelists, as well as a summary of the responses to the questions from Committee Members here.

You can even watch the entire side session through the United Nation treaty body webcast.


Voting process on Innovative practices has started: Your voice is welcome

On 17/09/2015, we started the final voting process on Innovative Practices related to our call for nomination on Inclusive education and ICT.

We are sending our shortlisted 200 nominations to more than 3,000 experts in our network and invite them to vote (independently, professionally and in good faith), just until 30th September. The received votes will be the basis for the final selection of practices to be featured in our report and during our conference in Vienna, from 10 to 12 February 2016.

Depending on your professional background, you can participate too! All you have to do is sending a brief email, along with a biography to office@zeroproject.org. We are looking forward to your contribution.

Projekt Transformace

Innovative Policy presented in Czech Republic – Conference Report published

In June 2015, Maths Jesperson spoke about the Swedish psychiatric reform and presented the Zero Project Innovative Policy Personal Ombudsmen System at a conference organized by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. At the conference, experiences on the transformation of social services in the Czech Republic and abroad were shared and discussed. The conference report was recently published by the Ministry.


Have also a look at the Video about the Personal Ombudsman System:

International Day of Democracy_UN

International Day of Democracy

Since 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided that 15th September would be the International Day of Democracy. The theme for 2015 is space for civil society.

Political participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations was also the theme of the Zero Project Report 2015 (available in English and German in the Download section). The report highlighted a number of innovative practices and policies from around the world, such as, for instance:

  • The Accommodating Diversity for Active Participation in European Elections (ADAP) project that overcomes the voting obstacles faced by people with intellectual disabilities and older people. Read more >>
  • Japan’s revision of election law, which led to the enfranchisement of more than 136,000 persons. Read more >>
  • South Africa’s policy to ensure the inclusiveness of its Parliament. Read more >>
  • A successful advocacy project that promoted the right to vote for persons deprived of their legal capacity in Croatia. Read more >>
  • New Zealand’s Access 2020 Disability Strategy that makes sure that all aspects of the electoral process are accessible to these persons. Read more >>

Furthermore, today is also the deadline for sending submissions to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguila), on the topic of the right of persons with disabilities to participate in decision-making. To answer the consultation, follow this link.


Zero Project Shortlists 200 Innovative Practices and Policies

The Zero Project 2016 has finished shortlisting the nominations it has received in the fields of education and ICT. The Zero Project 2016 shortlist consists of 200 innovative practices and policies.

Our research process started in June 2015 with the call for nominations, and, as the second step in the selection process, shortlisting was finished last week. Two hundred (200) out of 337 nominations have been shortlisted and are qualified to enter the next step in the selection process.

For the shortlist, the Zero Project Team and a total of 72 partners and experts based their decisions on:

  • Measurable impact in education or ICT;
  • Strategies that were clearly explained and can be scaled up, copied or replicated elsewhere; and
  • Innovative approaches in their area of work;

The Zero Project Team and its experts were very impressed by the quality of nominations. This made the shortlisting process not only extremely interesting, but also the team’s decisions very difficult.

Eventually, 200 nominations from 76 different countries made it to the shortlist. From a regional perspective, 96 nominations originate in Europe (48%), 34 in Asia-Pacific (16.5%), 22 in North America (11%), 19 from Africa (9.5%) and 18 from the Middle East (9%). One is supra-national.

Roughly half of the nominations are implemented in lower income countries, the other half in the most highly developed countries (as defined by the Human Development Index of the UNDP).

Twenty seven (27) nominations are policies, i.e. regulations, laws, public policies or high-court decisions. 172 are practices and projects, products and services that have been developed by NGOs, social entrepreneurs, businesses or universities.

A preliminary screening of all nominations attributes them to the following fields of work (double counting can occur, since many nominations work in two or more of these fields):

  • 20 (10%) in early childhood intervention;
  • 119 (59.5%) in primary and/or secondary education;
  • 57 (28.5%) in tertiary education;
  • 27 (13.5%) in vocational training and education; and
  • 32 (16%) in non-formal or adult education.

One hundred and six (106) of the selected nominations (53%) use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). In 59 of those shortlisted, ICT is directly related to education, whereas in 47 of those shortlisted, ICT is generally used as a tool to communicate or transfer information.

Starting from next week and into early October, more than 2,000 experts from the Zero Project network of experts will be asked to vote on the shortlisted nominations as the next step in the selection process. This will bring the number of pre-selected nominations down to 100.

Read our full press release!

Zero Project InnoPractice .jpg

Event on the “Employer model”

Selected among the most innovative practices by the Zero Project in its 2015 report, “the Employer model” is continuing to spread across Germany. They initiated many project in 2015, like an online course for managing assistants. If you want to know more about them, they invite you at an event the 15th of September in the city of Mainz, Germany.

Julia Heineck, a social lawyer, will talk about her experience of the employer model. The participation is free, as is the snack and glass of wine. Questions are welcomed.

If you decide to go, you will find all the practical information you need on the facebook event page.



UNICEF and GAATES collaborate to advance accessible education

This year, UNICEF and GAATES (Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments) are working together to prioritize the rights and needs of children with disabilities, including their rights to Accessible Education.

To support children with disabilities to participate in their communities and go to school, UNICEF and GAATES are developing a series of information booklets that provide the knowledge and tools to improve accessibility in schools and communities, as well as innovative examples that have been implemented around the world.

In addition, as reaching the school from home can often be a challenge and requires a more comprehensive view on access, UNICEF with support from GAATES is developing a product guide of assistive products and technologies. The guide will categorize assistive technology needs into five disability groups: mobility, vision, hearing, communication and cognition. It will be the first of its kind for UNICEF and will be accessible by any individual or organization seeking information on AT products on the market. The guide is based on evidence from all over the world on the products that support and enable children to excel, particularly in educational settings, and that are suited especially for use in low-resource settings – we look much forward to the results!

If you want to know more about UNICEF’s work on supplies for children with disabilities, visit: http://www.unicef.org/supply/index_82297.html and about GAATES, visit their website: http://gaates.org and do not forget to sign up to their fantastic Global Accessibility Newsletter (GAN)