Melissa Malzkuhn and Roberta Cordano pose for a photo with Martin Essl with their Zero Project award

The Zero Project Awards

Each year, the Zero Project finds and shares Innovative Practices and Policies that help improve the lives of persons with disabilities, across a four year cycle of topics:

  • Independent Living and Political Participation (2015, 2019)
  • Education (2016, 2020)
  • Employment (2017, 2021)
  • Accessibility (2018, 2022)

Awards are presented by the Zero Project for Innovative Practices – projects, programs, products and services, and Innovative Policies – laws, regulations, taxes, subsidies, certification and more, usually from the public sector. For examples of previous projects, take a look at the awarded practices and policies from previous years of the Zero Project.

A panel of experts presenting at the Zero Project

A panel of experts presenting at the Zero Project Conference

Chosen practices and policies have exposure to a global audience of disability organisations at the Zero Project Conference. At the conference, those behind the innovative Policies & Practices present their solutions to their peers involved in the world of disabilities, including stakeholders, government ministers and other key influencers. They also receive an award for the incredible work they have done, helping them to raise their profile, network and to inspire others. Keynote speakers and other experts discuss, in both plenary sessions and workshops, issues surrounding that year’s theme and how those Practices & Policies could be best transferred elsewhere.

The 2018 Conference brought together more than 600 experts from 70 countries and reached a further 150,000 via social media and live-streaming. Past recognition by the Zero Project has had a proven impact on many of those selected in helping them to grow, find funding, find partners and . Applications may also be eligible for other opportunities such as the Impact Transfer.

In addition to the conference, the selected practices and policies are promoted on the Zero Project website, in the annual Zero Project report and across social media.

The Nomination Process

Nominations normally open in May. Anyone can make a nomination for anything and we also highly encourage self-nominations! Nominations are made through a dedicated online platform, where users fill in details of their nomination. When the nomination process opens, the link to the platform will be available on the home page of the Zero Project website.

A busy pin board with many colour-coded nominations

Selecting the 2018 Awardees


The nomination process normally closes by the start of July, after which an initial review is conducted by the Zero Project to identify projects that are eligible to proceed (i.e. they fit the correct annual topic, they are not in prototype, they do not infringe law or human rights, they have measurable results etc).

The selection process is then guided by two rounds of voting from our network of up to 3,000 experts. This largely guides the final selection, however some adjustments may need to be made to account for potential regional bias, high/low income country bias and other factors.

Selected projects are selected by September/October, after which the Zero Project will work closely with each awardee to prepare their fact sheet for the report and to prepare them to present their work at the Zero Project Conference in February at the United Nations in Vienna.