The early childhood period is considered to be the most important developmental phase which determines the well-being, quality of health, learning and social-emotional behaviour across the life span. Extensive research has shown that high quality early childhood intervention (ECI) services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities at large. Despite developments in the field, children with disabilities and their families are still confronted by barriers including inadequate legislation and policies, negative attitudes, inadequate services, and lack of accessible environments. In order to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, national governments have the obligation to develop and put in place age-appropriate support for children with disabilities to enable their full enjoyment of rights on an equal basis with other children.

The overall conference objectives are to:

  • Provide a comprehensive overview on the state of play of early intervention in Europe and explore the challenges, needs and potential solutions in setting-up high quality community-based ECI services
  • Tackle important issues related to the setting-up of these services such as the deinstitutionalization process, family involvement, the training of staff and innovative ECI techniques and therapies
  • Showcase various models of good practices in ECI both through the plenary and workshop sessions
  • Discuss the development of national implementation strategies in regard to ECI
  • Offer recommendations addressed to various relevant stakeholders and decision-makers

Don’t miss out the pre-conference activities on the 20th of April!

A study-visit to a local early childhood intervention centre in Chisinau

The 2016 edition of the EASPD Project Development Workshop “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

For more information about the conference, visit the conference website or contact Adriana Popa at

Moldova Conference_programme

9 March 2016: Zero Project Report 2016 presented at the UN Human Rights Council

On the occasion of the 31st Human Rights Council, the Permanent Mission of Austria and the International Disability Alliance, together with the Permanent Missions of Australia, Canada, China, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand and Turkey, and the International Telecommunications Union, supported by the Zero Project, held a successful side event on “Inclusive Education and ICTs for All: Towards AccessiblZero Project Flyer HRC31e and Sustainable Societies”.

Which innovative practices and policies exist, and how best to cooperate to implement the CRPD?

Which ways forward to enhance the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

How to assure the right to inclusive education as enshrined in article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for all?

These are just a few of the questions that were discussed during the event, together with about 60 representatives of permanent missions to the UN, international organizations and NGOs.


H.E. Thomas HAJNOCZI, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva

Opening words:
Catalina DEVANDAS, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Jorge ARAYA, Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Overview and update on the draft General Comment on Inclusive Education

Ana Isabel RUIZ, Director for Education, Employment and Cultural Promotion, ONCE: Support for persons with disabilities to equally enjoy the right to education in mainstream schools, both in Spain and in Latin America (Speech, MS Word)

Ingrid HEINDORF, Geneva Coordinator, Zero Project/World Future Council: The Zero Project 2016 and its focus on Inclusive Education and ICTs for All (Presentation, PDF, ZPC2016 Retrospective)

Susan SCHORR, Head of Special Initiatives Division at ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union: The role of public procurement in ensuring accessible ICTs for inclusive education (Presentation, PDF)

Nafisa BABOO, Senior Advisor on Inclusive Education, Light for the World: How can the SDG4 and the education 2030 framework for action ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind again? (Speech, MS Word)

Interactive dialogue

Refreshments were served. Captioning was provided.

The event took place on 9th March 2016, at 12-2pm at Room XXI, Palais des Nations, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, and was webcasted via

FlyerPress Release

9 HE Hajnoczi, PR of Austria to UNOG, moderating HRC31 side event ©Jared Bloch 10 I. Heindorf, WFC, presents the Zero Project Report 2016 HRC31 ©Jared Bloch






8 Ingrid Heindorf, World Future Council, presents the Zero Project Report 2016 at a HRC 31 Side Event 4 Participants of HRC31 Side Event






5 Participants of HRC31 Side Event 1 Panel of HRC31 Side Event moderated by HE Hajnoczi, Permanent Representative of Austria

Last week, the Zero Project presented its work at a three-day UN Forum in Nairobi (Kenya) on disability inclusion and accessible urban development.

We already informed you about this event two weeks ago. During the Forum, experts from around the world presented different ways to ensure that the world’s urban development agenda will be inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities.

When focusing on accessibility in 2014, the Zero Project had identified a total of 69 innovative solutions for moving towards a universally accessible built environment, transportation, ICT and services. At the forum Dr. Michael Fembek, Zero Project’s Director, presented in particular promising Innovative Practices and Policies advancing accessible urban transportation. One of them is, for instance, the first universally accessible Bus Rapid Transit system in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Accessible transport is key to an inclusive urban development. It is vital for everyone, not just persons with disabilities. You use it when going to hospital, school, and employment. Comprehensive long-term and multi-level efforts are required,” says Dr Fembek.

You can find many more solutions on this website, have a look around our different databases and indicators. You can find the full press release concerning the Forum in Nairobi in our downloads section, along with all our reports, or directly by following this link.
And if you wish to contact the Zero Project Director, Dr. Michael Fembek, you can do so: e-mail (


Two weeks ago we told you already about the Annual Conference of European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD).

It started yesterday in St-Virgil Conference Centre, in Salzburg (Austria). And today, from 11h00 – 12h30, Michael Fembek, Director of the Zero Project, will intervene in a panel debate concerning the development of teaching programmes with a universal design.

In 2015, the Zero Project dedicates all its efforts to the topics of Inclusive Education and ICT. While we are working on the final selection, preliminary results of our vast collection of more than 300 nominations can already be presented.

Along with Dr. Fembek, there will be three other panelists: Stein Erik Ohna, a Professor in Education at the Stavanger University from Norway,
Jurgen Willems, teacher at the Scheppers Instituut from Belgium and a student with disabilities from the SOB from Austria.

You can consult the full conference programme by following this link.

UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) organizes a three-day Forum with a focus on disability inclusion and accessible urban development. The forum will take place from 28 to 30 October in Nairobi, and is organized in close collaboration with UN-Habitat, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission and civil society partners, including the African Disability Forum.

Experts from around the world will present ways to ensure that the world’s urban development agenda will be inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities. As explained in the Concept Note, discussions will also contribute to the preparatory processes leading to the Habitat III and its emerging “New Urban Agenda”.

The Zero Project Director, Michael Fembek, will be attending the meetings.

All the panelist at CRPD Side event on Inclusive Education2015

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.

UN Logo_humanrights

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 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:

More than 750 participants attended last week the 8th session of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York – we did too!

From our side Dr Michael Fembek (Head), Wilfried Kainz (Coordinator) and Tom Butcher (NY representative) were attending.


What is so special about the “CoSP”?

Well, it is a very unique gathering organized by UN DESA which gathers an unprecedented amount of disability experts from all around the world – from UN to NGO and foundation representatives, from academics to politicians and parliamentarians, from diplomats to business representatives and consultants – the event is open to anyone.

Read more

Mr Fembek at COSP8

Organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations Secretariat, this Forum on Disability and Development will take stock of what has been achieved in advancing disability-inclusive development. At the forum’s second round table on Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development, Dr. Michael Fembek, Head of Zero Project, joined prominent panellists, including for example Ms. Yamina Djacta, UN Habitat; Mr. Indrajit Banerjee, UNESCO; Mr. Yasunobu Ishii, The Nippon Foundation as well as Mr. Javed Abidi, Disabled People’s International. The event was held on 12th June, in Conference Room 4 (UN HQ).

More information: