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28th August, Geneva: Inclusive Education. From Right to Practice

One of the most debated issues concerning CRPD article 24 on inclusive education, is the question how can we get “From Right to Practice”? To provide answers to the most compelling questions on this matter, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is currently preparing a General Comment.

Thanks to the 330+ nominations we received to our call for nominations (special thanks to all our partners), we know that inclusive education is:
– already happening, today,

– including children with all kinds of disabilities,

– and works all across the world, even in emergency situations.


To provide the CRPD Committee with a glimpse of our preliminary findings, Michael Fembek, who heads the Zero Project, has been invited to speak at the side event “Inclusive Education. From Right to Practice”, organized by Inclusion International (member of our partner International Disability Alliance).

This event will be chaired by Klaus Lachwitz, President, Inclusion International, and examine, in particular, the evolution of the understanding of what “inclusion” means for persons with intellectual and other disabilities; highlight examples from all regions of the world; and review the new position of the International Disability Alliance and Inclusion International on inclusive education and its implications for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.


·        Dr. Michael Fembek, Director, Zero Project, Essl Foundation

·        Maureen Piggot, President, Inclusion Europe

·        Osamu Nagase, Asia-Pacific Regional Representative, Inclusion International

·        Fatma Wangare, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH)

·        Diane Richler, Past President, Inclusion International.


The event will take place on Friday 28th August 2015, from 1.45pm to 2.45pm, in the Ground floor conference room of Palais Wilson, Geneva. Join us for the discussion directly (UN accreditation needed), or follow us via the treaty body webcast.

You can download the draft flyer of the event here.


Zero Project receives 337 nominations from 98 countries

The Zero Project 2016 started its selection process of Innovative Practices and Policies in the field of inclusive education and ICT in June. It has received an astounding 337 nominations from 98 countries (including two from internationally operational organizations). These nominations represent a unique wealth of innovative solutions.

What they demonstrate is that there is a global movement of practitioners implementing inclusive education “on the ground,” helping children with all kinds of disabilities, including those with multiple disabilities, around the world, in all contexts, even in emergency situations.

The Zero Project’s global reach is evident from the number of nominations received from each continent. The following is the breakdown, including the two countries most represented in each region:

Africa: 29

South Africa: 7,

Tanzania: 6


Asia/Pacific: 54

India: 11,

Australia: 7


Europe: 179

Austria: 35,

Italy: 31


Middle East: 27

Israel: 13,

Turkey: 4


North America: 29

USA: 16,

Canada: 13


South America/Caribbean: 17

Ecuador: 4,

Colombia: 3


International level: 2


A first screening of all nominations shows that roughly half of all nominations involve inclusive education, a quarter involve both education and ICT (using technology to support accessible and inclusive education), and another quarter exclusively Information and Communication Technologies.

Nominations from low income countries tend to have a “universal approach” towards inclusive education (for instance, by simultaneously offering learning materials, technological support, transport to school, train-the-trainer-models, assistance in the classroom for the disabled child, as well as vocation training, etc, whereas nominations from high income countries tend to have more detail-orientated projects, focusing more on specific aspects of advancing inclusive education, such as developing curricula or web tools.

The Zero Project team, with the help of its partners, is currently shortlisting all nominations, based on its three criteria: innovation, impact and scalability.

The shortlist is likely to include 190 to 200 nominations and will be completed in September, at which time the Zero Project will communicate the most outstanding results.

In September and October, the Zero Project expert network will be asked to vote on the shortlisted nominations as the next step in the selection process.

Read our full press release!


Partnership with UNDP: Together towards sustainable development for all

After UNICEF last week, we are happy to announce our partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). For the post-2015 agenda, the members of the United Nations propose new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The fourth goal centers on inclusive (and equitable quality) education for all.

Being a partner to the Zero Project means to be associated with our activities from time to time (conferences, submission and review of nominations, reports, etc.). In return, we feature our partners and contribute to their activities (to the extent of our capacities).

If you desire to be a partner to the Zero Project, don’t hesitate to write to us. And if you are already our partner, but you are not yet featured on our website, please send your logo, name of organization, link to your homepage and city where your headquarters are based at zeroproject@zeroproject.org


25 August, Geneva: CRPD Committee Side event on holistic participatory disability rights monitoring

Zero Project partner Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI), together with their co-sponsors the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and York University (Canada), organizes a side event on “Holistic participatory disability rights monitoring methodology: a pathway towards effective reporting strategies”, held during the CRPD 14th Session (17 August- 4 September 2015) in Palais Wilson, Geneva, from 1:15pm to 2:45pm.

The event will focus on DRPI’s participatory methodology for monitoring disability rights, including:
1. Holistic and participatory monitoring leading to progressive realization;
2. Mainstreaming disability in the SDGs and post 2015 agenda;
3. Effective Reporting Strategies and mechanisms for national reports.
Among the speakers are:

  • Marcia Rioux, Distinguished Research Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health, York University; Canada, Co-Director (with Bengt Lindqvist) of DRPI
  • Jose Viera, Latin America Regional Officer, DRPI, Argentina
  • Rajive Raturi, Asia-Pacific Regional Officer, DRPI, India
  • Radoš Keravica, Europe Regional Officer, DRPI, Serbia

Find out more about DRPI at: www.drpi.research.yorku.ca


July 2015: UNICEF official partner of Zero Project & First global Assistive Products Forum

Since July 2015, UNICEF is official partners with the Zero Project!

This is a great opportunity to highlight together the achievements for inclusive education so far made, as well as to explore the gaps that remain across the world to advance children with disabilities’ education in mainstream schools.

As well, for the first time, UNICEF held recently, July 6 – 7- 2015, a global meeting “to raise awareness, inspire, and exchange knowledge on Assistive Technology (AT) products that can bridge equity gaps for children with disabilities”, in Copenhagen, Denmark.


#this abiility

#this abiility


During two days, staff, stakeholders and manufacturers shared the floor and presented some very fascinating products and projects. You can learn more about this event at its dedicated webpage. Furthermore, wonderful hand-drawn sketches provide you with a good overview of what has been discussed (direct link here).


day 1 copenhagen conference

day 1 copenhagen conference



Forum agenda and participants list

Assistive Products for Children with Disabilities (APCD) forum agenda

Assistive Products for Children with Disabilities (APCD) forum participants list




UNICEF-WHO joint paper on assistive technology for children with disabilities (PDF)

UNICEF-WHO joint paper on assistive technology for children with disabilities in accessible formats: HTML | EPUB | DAISY

Key highlights from the UNICEF global survey on Assistive Technologies for Children with Disabilities (PDF)

Key highlights from the UNICEF global survey on Assistive Technologies for Children with Disabilities (WORD)


Application for GSBI Accelerator Programme 2016

The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) is currently accepting applications for its GSBI Accelerator Programme 2016. The deadline for submission is October 23rd, 2015.

Founded in 2003, the GSBI serves social entrepreneurs around the world who are developing innovative solutions that provide a sustainable path out of poverty. The GSBI Accelerator Programme give social enterprises the opportunity to work alongside on 2 Silicon Valley mentors to improve every aspect of their organization.


This program is for leaders of social enterprises that:

  • Place equal or greater emphasis on social impact vs. financial return
  • Serve the poor
  • Address a problem that affects more than one million people worldwide
  • Have a product or service with measurable social impact


Application Process
To see the conditions, please visit GSBI Accelerator Programme.

Flowers For Algernon

Fight for Inclusive education: A tribute to “Flowers for Algernon”

Daniel Keyes was teaching English to students with special needs in 1957. One of his student asked him if it would be possible to be put into a regular class if he worked hard and became smart. Keyes also witnessed the dramatic progression of another learning-disabled student who regressed after he was removed from regular lessons. Keyes said, “When he came back to school, he had lost it all. He could not read. He reverted to what he had been. It was a heart-breaker”.

In reaction, Daniel Keyes wrote the now famous novel Flowers for Algernon (Hugo and Nebula award). Despite continuous critics and censorship from school library, the novel made its way to the public and was later adapted into a wonderful movie (“Charly”, 1968, Oscar of the Best Actor). You can see the entire movie here on Youtube, and it includes technology of its time: a teaching machine!

Daniel Keyes died last year at the age of 86.


Enjoy the full movie:

Zero Project InnoPractice .jpg

The Next Steps Project from Ireland celebrated the Zero Project 2015 award

The Next Steps Project – a Zero Project Innovative Practice 2015 – is a community of learning of 23 member organisations of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies who provide individualized support to people with intellectual disabilities so that they can live a life of their choosing. Notably, the project supports people to move from congregated settings into community-based settings.

To celebrate and recognise the people who have been sharing these changes an event took place on 28 May 2015 in Tullamore, Ireland, for all of the participants – self advocates, families and staff members. At the event each of the self-advocates who participated, or their family members, were presented with their certificate from the Zero Project award.


Some pics from the celebrations:

Picture 1

picture 2

picture 3

Charity Awards Logo 2015

Lumos Foundation gets prestigious UK Charity Award of the Year

The Zero Project highlighted Lumos’ work in 2015 as an Innovative Practice, and we are very glad to learn that Lumos Foundation received recently the prestigious UK Charity of the Year award 2015, in London. The Judges commented their decision here, by explaining that they were “so impressed by Lumos Foundation’s work in Moldova and throughout Eastern Europe that they chose it as the winner not only of the international aid and development category, but for the biggest prize of the night.”

In 2007, Moldova still had – like many countries – an old parallel education system with residential special schools. The government started a deinstitutionalization program, and with the help of the Lumos Foundation, more than 10 000 professionals have been trained on school inclusion, provision of qualified support to children with special educational needs, adapting the curriculum to children’s potential, etc.

Today, the number of institutionalized children in Moldova has reduced by 80 per cent and the Moldovan government has drafted a new action plan for complete deinstitutionalization for the period up to 2020.

The Zero Project works to ensure that your actions are echoed by others and reach the ears of decision makers and foundations of the world! Read more about Lumos’ work in our Practice section!