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The Story of Jose

“Now I feel useful”

This is my first job! I feel very happy and satisfied because they have accepted me as I am. Prior to becoming a Loan Officer at BAC Credomatic I had been searching for work for many years, but no company would give me the opportunity to show my full potential because of my disability. My family has always been supportive, but life has not been shiny all the time. A few years ago I had to leave my university studies because I did not have enough money to cover the expenses. I felt very frustrated, but I never gave up. One day I applied for a job in a company that opened its doors to many unemployed persons with disabilities like me.

Since that day my life has changed a lot. Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to finalize my university degree in Accounting and to have sufficient economic stability to help my mother with the household expenses. Now I feel useful. Now I realize that I can manage many administrative tasks and can take on additional responsibilities because I have acquired new knowledge in the banking area. Now I see a future that before I never imagined. I see myself growing into new positions in the company, having new opportunities, and learning more every day. I hope my story can inspire more companies to believe in the potential of people with disabilities.

Learn more about Costa Rica’s National Plan for Work Inclusion of People with Disabilities boosting the employability of Costa Ricans with disabilities.

336 Life Story_Allen Family June 2015

The Story of Dick and Andrea Allen

“Greer is not marginalized, but inspiring others”

We have been gifted with two beautiful daughters:  Sydney and Greer.
Sydney flew through the public school system from kindergarten through grade 12 in a relatively uneventful way, as did Greer. What’s exceptional about Greer’s experience is that she has Down Syndrome. Years ago, she never would have been afforded the opportunity to follow in her sister’s footsteps like many younger siblings dream to do. What’s even more exceptional is that Greer not only followed her sister’s footsteps in many regards, attending the same elementary and secondary schools, but she also paved her own path, participating in even more school activities than had her sister, and as such is today a capable, confident, and contributing member of our community. Because of New Brunswick’s Inclusive Education policy, Greer attended regular classes, received the necessary support, and participated fully in all school classes, activities, and clubs. In elementary school she participated in the drama and reading clubs and was acknowledged with a Bravery Award. Now in her final year of high school, she has:

  • Celebrated being a “Four Year Vet” in the annual high school musical production
  • Held leadership positions in the Best Buddies Programme
  • Developed lifelong friendships
  • Lived an ordinary life

Who could ask for more?
Many people who have taught Greer or had her in their clubs have commented on what she had added to the respective group and its dynamics. She has often been acknowledged for adding joy to the group, bringing people together and inspiring others to conquer challenges. We are thankful for Inclusive Education, which has enabled Greer to thrive rather than be marginalized as have many before her and many in other less progressive places.

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Final report launched of the PERSON project!

The PERSON project (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in other Nations), coordinated by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, launched its final report, which provides an update of the important achievements and ongoing challenges in the field of legal capacity reform in their partner countries: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Turkey.

The report covers the period 2012-2016 and provides an overview of the main activities of the project in the areas of legislative reform, strategic litigation, and capacity building. It also reports on the use of the PERSON Guiding Principles, the ‘Right to Act’ campaign and the international and local impact the project has had over the last 4 years.

This report will be of interest to anyone working in the area of legal capacity reform and to those pursuing various reform strategies around the world in this field.

Click here to enter our website and view the report.

New book! How leading corporations tap into hidden human capital

You are interested to know how leading corporations leverage multiple abilities in their workforce? How they improve their bottom line by employing persons with disabilities and tap into hidden human capital?

Debra Ruh‘s most recent book – published by Zero Project partner G3ict – The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs – answers exactly those key questions. 

Debra is convinced that “the real disability is being unable to see human potential”. She is a Global Disability Inclusion Strategist and serves as the EmployAbility Program Chair for G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs. She is a seasoned entrepreneur having founded three firms including Ruh Global Communications, TecAccess and Strategic Performance Solutions. At TecAccess, more than two third of her employees were persons with disabilities, serving as a best practice for many employers. Her client-centric focus and ability to promote successful disability employment programs has created relationships with many multi-national firms including Accenture, AT&T, ATOS, Avanade, Best Buy, Bloomberg, Canon and many others including United Nations agencies, international governments, federal, state and local agencies.

Her book shows how leading corporations successfully hire persons with disabilities to drive better business results. It guides global corporations as well as beginning entrepreneurs on how to integrate persons with disabilities in every aspect of the workforce. It takes the reader through each step, from recruiting and interviewing them to employing and retaining them as vital employees of companies. The book offers insights and strategies on how to accommodate employees with disabilities, reap from their skills and talents, and transform challenges into successes. Additionally, Debra includes personal accounts from global leaders about how persons with disabilities have enriched their businesses, increased productivity, and lowered turnover rates.

Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director at G3ict, says: “This is an outstanding compendium of practical solutions for all employers… From large organizations with a global footprint to entrepreneurs with a few employees, attracting and retaining the right talent is the most critical success factor for their business.”

Find out more about the book “Tapping Into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Corporations Leverage Multiple Abilities in Their Workforce” and/or order directly at: tinyurl.com/hjpa2j7

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Call for Nominations – Deadline extended until July 1!

We have extended the Deadline for the Call for Nomination on Innovative Practices until July 1!

The Zero Project team would like to invite you to nominate innovative practices concerning this year’s topics:

Employment, Work and Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Anyone can nominate any project, and self-nominations are also accepted!

If you have any questions or want a MS Word-Document to fill in, please don’t hesitate to contact us at office@zeroproject.org any time.

Submitting a nomination is easy by filling in the new Nomination-Online Tool – click HERE!

Employers with outstanding employment practices – it is your turn!

Employment in the open labour market is of critical importance for persons with disabilities for living independently. Data shows that this is far from reality in most countries of the world, employment rates even decrease in some countries, especially in those that are in economic crises.

Still there are excellent practices of employers and employment strategies out there. Strategies where abilities and not disabilities are in focus. Others were diversity and service for customers with disabilities support the business case, or where there is evidence that the inclusion of employers with disabilities improves identification and motivation of all staff members. Or models – especially important in low income countries or rural areas – where self-employment is supported, or home-based work is organized.

The Zero Project has already identified several outstanding employment models in the past. For example:

Arunim, founded in 2008 in India, is a path breaking initiative, dedicated to create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Its activities range from policy level interventions to providing information, offering training in product design, introducing technology-based solutions and marketing opportunities to all its members. For more information see: https://www.facebook.com/ArunimIndia?fref=nf

Discovering hands from Germany uses the superior tactile perception of blind and visually impaired persons to improve palpatory diagnosis in the early detection of breast cancer. For more information see: http://www.discovering-hands.de

Gragger Bakery and Caritas:A bakery in Upper Austria and Caritas have organized Backma`s, a project that provides vocational on-the-job training for adolescents with disabilities. Under the supervision of mentors, the apprentices acquire practical skills in the production of pastries in a full-fledged working bakery in Linz so that they are then able to find employment in the open labour market. For more information see: http://www.gragger.at/ueber-gragger/menschen

Specialisterne from Denmakris internationally recognised as the first and foremost example of how highly functioning people with autism can become effectively integrated in society and provide valuable, high quality services to their employers.For more information see: http://specialisterne.com/

Wipro,one of indian biggest IT corporations, has committed itself to an employment strategy that ensures that inclusion becomes an integral part of culture and working. Wipro’s hiring policy for persons with disabilities is merit-based across all roles and not just in “identified jobs”, support functions or non-core function . For more information see:  www.wipro.org/sustainability/people_with_disabilities.html

So, if you are an employer who has also established an inclusive and accessible work space, from Small- and Medium Sized Enterprise to worldwide leading corporations – please come forward with your nomination! Here: http://zeroproject.org/downloads/#toggle-id-1




Making business better for persons with disabilities

At first the companies weren’t that interested. Employing people with disabilities is often seen as complicated, and especially so in countries where there are already many other barriers to social inclusion. But when the employers saw that it could be done and it would be good for their business they were determined to carry on. From China to Bangladesh, a recent meeting at the International Labour Organization Headquarters showcased the range of initiatives that have been taken by and with the private sector in low- and middle-income countries. In turns out that employing persons with disabilities brings benefits in technology companies, garments factories and many more contexts around the world.  To begin with it seems almost impossible. First off, many employers might not believe disabled people can do the jobs at all, let alone well. Even if you know this not to be the case, the context of social exclusion and inaccessibility makes it hard for disabled people to find work.

But many companies are finding practical solutions. With a bit of creativity and often in partnership with disability organizations, the private sector is opening pathways for disabled people into work. Disabled people are able to do the work, and they contribute to important changes in the workplace. Often employing disabled people is a chance for employers to improve workflow and responsiveness within the organization. As a result, they see better retention of staff and higher morale, too. Innovations in this area are seen positively by clients and are also a chance for companies to make an important contribution nationally and internationally.

What is something that Accenture, L’Oréal and The Standard Bank all have in common? They are all among the high-profile companies that have signed an ILO Charter on promoting and including persons with disabilities across their global workforces. The Global Business and Disability Network offers a platform where businesses can share and learn from each other.The ILO is supporting these efforts across the world, linking global and national companies in countries from Costa Rica to Ethiopia to China. There’s a lot more to be done. The disability sector and disability services need to better prepare disabled people to be able to contribute to the workforce. More employers across the world need to be able to see and understand the benefits and reasons to take action on employing disabled people.

The upcoming conference in 2017 organized by Zero Project offers an important opportunity to take this work forward. The Zero Project will identify and showcase practices and policies that have supported employment of people with disabilities. For disability practitioners this is a chance to see what’s worked and what remains to be done. For employers this is a chance to learn from each other and show how what’s good for their business is also good for the world.


Peter Fremlin is a consultant working on disability inclusion. Stefan Tromel is Senior Disability Specialist at the International Labour Organization

The Logo for UN Enable

Zero Project featured in May edition of the UN Enable Newsletter

Our Zero Project call for practice nominations have been featured in the UN Enable Newsletter, which is prepared by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (DSPD/DESA) with input from UN offices, agencies, funds and programmes, as well as from civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities.

Check out the latest edition – May 2016, which includes important information about:

  • 9th session of the Conference of States Parties  and CRPD Committee elections
  1. “Disability # inability”: Equality and Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Enhancing Coordinated Response
  2. Forum: Ways Forward Towards a Disability Inclusive and Accessible New Urban Agenda
  3. Implementation of Global Development and Humanitarian Goals – the Leadership Role of Women with Disabilities
  4. Universal Access to Information using ICTs for Persons with Disabilities: Digital Empowerment for Inclusive Development
  5. Developing strong and inclusive institutional frameworks for the CRPD
  • HABITAT III: Global Network to promote  accessible and disability inclusive urban development
  1. UNDP New study on disaster, disability, and difference;
  2. ILO meeting on “Opening pathways into ‘unusual´ employment for persons with disabilities”;
  3. WIPO – Moving closer towards the 20 signatories for the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty
  1. Zero Project 2017: Call for Nominations in Employment Practices ;
  2. Disabled People’s International and the second MEDD meeting;
  3. Campaign on the absolute prohibition of commitment and forced treatment;
  4. New resource portal for disability rights implementation ;
  5. Malta enacts autism acceptance law;
  6. The employment experience of women with depression, and much more!

Previous editions of the newsletter can be found at: www.un.org/disabilities.