Various pages with writing too small showing writing, tables, pictures and maps, with the cover of the Zero Project Report 2019 at the centre

We are proud to introduce to you the Zero Project Report 2019!

After more than 9 months of research, analysis and reporting, we are delighted to bring you our latest annual report, on this year’s topic Independent Living and political Participation.

Inside this report you will find fact sheets of the 66 Innovative Practices, and Innovative Policies from 41 countries that support independent living or participation in politics for persons with disabilities, along with personalised life stories from many of the projects. The report also introduces 11 new participants of the Zero Project Impact Transfer, in association with Ashoka, where projects are prepared for replication around the world, plus the TOPHOUSE project which shares projects for inclusive person-centres housing in Europe.

The report also includes for the first time a summary in easy language.

All the themes, topics and projects within this report will be discussed during the Zero Project Conference from 20th to 22nd February 2019 at the United Nations in Vienna. You can watch the action from the Conference on the Zero Project website or the Zero Project Facebook page.

Enjoy!

A panel of four experts sat behind a podium with microphones in front

In just two weeks we will already be at the United Nations and getting inspired by the wise words of presenters from all around the world. We already have experts from over 80 countries registered, which is a record for the Zero Project Conference! We cannot wait to welcome you we’re so grateful for everyone that is making the journey to be part of this event.

Over the next two weeks a lot will happen and there is so much to get involved with, whether you are attending the Conference or not! We are pleased to give you some details of what to look out for and how to take part.

Attendees will be sent information directly for how to get to the venue, how to sign in and how to make the most of their time at the conference. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! However, there’s lots of extra useful information for those who cannot make it, or supplementary information for those attending.

Front Cover of the Zero Project Report. The Zero Project logo and writing "Imdependent Living and Political Participation on white background

Soon to be released: The Zero Project Report 2019

Zero Project Annual Report

A few days before the Conference we will release the Zero Project 2019 Report on the topic of Independent Living and Political Participation. The Report will feature the 76 awardees (66 practices and 10 policies) which help improve the lives of persons with disabilities in living more independently or taking part in their community and politics. The report will also feature an easy-language summary, and an analysis of promising inclusive social housing practices as part of the TOPHOUSE project. We will be checking in with our great group of Zero Project Impact Transfer participants from 2018, plus introducing 11 exciting new projects who are going through an intensive preparation for scaling and replicating their projects in new countries.

You will be able to download an accessible pdf of the report on the Zero Project website and physical copies will be handed out at the Conference

Screen shot of streaming at the Zero Project Conference. On the left "Spain APSA Tempe - "Forandfrom" stores Shoe-shops, barrier-free for all. on the right two men in suits shake hands in front of a Zero Project backdrop.

The live stream of #ZeroCon18

Live Stream

Once again, we will be streaming all three days of the Conference live on our Facebook page and on the Zero Project website. All the action from the main room will be presented live, including English captions and international sign. Browse the agenda to see which sessions you want to catch or tune in throughout the day to see what’s going on. Just some of the many highlights will be the Keynote speech by Jenny Lay-Flurrie of Microsoft on the morning of day 1, the award ceremony on the evening of day 2, and a special creative piece performed by young people who are supported by Lumos Foundation on the morning of day 3.

Twitter feed of #ZeroCon18 showing people posing for photos and posting positive comments about the Conference

Posting on the #ZeroCon18 hashtag

Social Media

As ever, we will be sharing, reacting and interacting on our social media channels throughout the Conference. Make sure to use the hashtag #ZeroCon19 so you can join the conversation, whether attending the Conference or watching from home.

Post-Conference media

When the curtain finally comes down on the final day of #ZeroCon19, the fun will not end there! Stay tuned to our social media channels across the following weeks as we upload highlight clips, photos and stories to help share anything you might have missed. We will also make each session available to watch again on our YouTube channel, including rooms 2 and 3 which will not be streamed live.

If you have any specific questions about any session or want to find out more, then please get in touch!

Two men sitting at a desk, discussing.

Part 4 of our awardees blog brings you projects that work to influence policy, including self-representation, participation in politics and how to strengthen access to legal and human rights.

Self-representatives influencing policy-making

A group of 17 self-advocates proudly holding their certificate in a group photo
Proud participants of FEPAPDEM’s self-advocacy training

For meaningful and lasting change in policy, it is important for those that the policies affect are the same ones influencing it. FEPAPDEM in Ecuador runs a program which trains people to train persons with intellectual disabilities to become self-advocates and speak out about the issues that are important to them. Also in Ecuador, Fundación Discapacidad y Desarrollo works with local disabled people’s organisations to identify needs of residents with disabilities and address them through local regulations. And in the Pursat province of Cambodia, Light for the World trains representatives to advocate for inclusive policies in local commune and district meetings.

Participating in politics in low- and middle-income countries

A Blind man standing behind a cardboard voting booth
A Blind man taking part in a mock election in northern Malawi, through FEDOMA

Some of our 2019 awardees facilitate the conditions for people with disabilities to actively participate in politics in low and middle income countries. In Nepal, the Disability Empowerment and Communication Centre assists with inclusive voting and supports running for parliamentary elections. Similarly, the Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi is carrying out many methods to encourage voting and running for parliament, such as stakeholder engagement, lobbying and media coverage.

Strengthening access to legal and human rights

A group of people holding posters and placards during a demonstration on the street
NCPEDP bringing organisations together for sustained advocacy for disability legislation in India

A small group of winning projects are aiming to improve access to legal and human rights through targeting change in national legislation. Mobility International USA’s Global Disability RightsNow! program is targeting change in seven countries by providing local disabled persons organisations with free technical training and mentorship to improve their own in-country plans. In India, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People has conducted sustained and systematic advocacy to help push through a new national disability law, with funding from Mphasis. Finally, in British Columbia, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reducaiton has launched a 10-year strategy for improving the lives of people with disabilities, for example through simplified benefit applications and raising the benefit rate.

A man speaking to a semi-circle of volunteers holding white canes

Youth and volunteering

Two young men in a market carrying a cardboard box together with fruit and vegetables
Volunteers with disabilities helping the elderly carry bags for “Volunteering for a change”

So often, volunteering opportunities relating to disability are seen as volunteering to help persons with disabilities. However, innovations around the world are encouraging and supporting persons with disabilities to help others in need. Mexico-based Unidos Somos Iguales trains young people with and without disabilities to participate in social programmes as “allies”. Similarly “Volunteering for a Change”, a partnership between government and NGOs in Israel supports students /with disabilities to engage in meaningful volunteer work. Austria-based WeltWegWeiser has developed a framework for inclusive volunteer assignments in low-income countries. Finally, Empowerment Through Integration in Lebanon works to train young people with visual impairments through various measures to promote social inclusion.

The parallel session on Youth and Volunteering takes place on day 2 of the conference (21st February) at 10:45 in M3.

Improving the response of the criminal justice system to persons with disabilities

Persons with various disabilities may have unique problems when navigating the criminal justice system, which may be confusing and intimidating. Thankfully, there are projects around the world which support people in innovative ways.

An example card showing name, profile photo, and list of impairments following brain injury for example I have speech difficulties. Card includes a police logo and a phone number for criminal legal assistance.
Headway’s Brain Injury Identity Card

Headway, in the United Kingdom has created a nationally-recognised Brain Injury Identity Card which enables fair treatment when encountering the criminal justice system. In the United States the multidisciplinary response team from NCCJD’s Pathways to Justice programme aims to improve local criminal justice systems response to victims, witnesses, defendants, and prisoners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The parallel session on criminal justice system takes place on day 3 of the conference (22nd February) at 14:50 in M1.

Supporting people facing multiple disadvantages

People with and without disabilities in a large room holding up placards with disability slogans in portuguese
Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities through Escola de Gente’s APA programme

For many people, living with a disability can be just one of the challenges they face. In Canada, the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society supported over 1,700 people to access local or national services in 2017. Meanwhile, in Brazil, Escola de Gente’s Accessibility Promotion Agents programme works with young people with and without disabilities in favelas to identify and intervene when the rights of people with disabilities have been violated.

The parallel session on supporting people facing multiple disadvantages takes place on day 3 of the conference at 12:40 in M1.

A person with intellectual disabilitis dries a washed dish int he kitchen

Today we bring you part two of our awardee blog. Here, we take a look at projects that aim to support people in moving from institutions and regain control over their daily lives and decisions.

Making deinstitutionalisation work

We begin by taking a look at models that support a holistic approach to deinstitutionalisation. The number of children in residential care in Moldova has dropped by 86 per cent since Lumos began promoting deinstitutionalisation and inclusive education in the country. Also in Moldova, Keystone’s “Community for All” programme has supported more than 2,000 people with intellectual disabilities to move back to their families or community-based homes. In Ireland, Genio Trust has been working with the Government and philanthropy to co-ordinate closure of institutions and moving of residents into a community-based environment.

The parallel session on making deinstitutionalisation work takes place on day three of the conference (Friday 22nd February) at 13:40 in M1.

A lady carries a tray of coffee cups in a kitchen, while an onlooker smiles in the backgrouns
Hasnija, beneficiary of Union SUMERO’s housing and support prepares coffee in her own home

Supported housing models in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Many organisations are managing models for supporting those who have moved from institutions, or as a preventative measure to allow people to stay in their communities. In Romania, Pro ACT Suport are running a ‘stepping-stone’ model to train and support people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities to live in the community. In Kazakhstan, the Psychoanalytic Association is supporting people in the Almaty region to move from institutions via a Training Café. Milan Petrovic school in Serbia supports adults with intellectual disabilities to live in the community with tailored assistance. Finally, Union SUMERO in Bosnia and Herzegovina has helped 80 people with intellectual disabilities to live in shared houses in their local communities with daily support.

The parallel session on Supported housing models in Eastern Europe and Central Asia takes place on day 2 of the conference (Thursday 21st) at 16:00 in M1.

Supported decision making and personal budget models

Finally, we look at models that support persons to have more control over their daily lives through supported-decision making and personal budgets.

Three people, two in football shirts looking away from the camera towards a football pitch. A man in a black t-shirt has his arm around the shoulder of one of the footballers
Taking part in sport – a choice through Israel Unlimited

Innovative models for personal budgets and decision-making have been awarded in Israel. Bizchut have successfully demonstrated a model for supported decision-making which has let to changes in national government legislation. JDC and Israel Unlimited have successfully worked with the government to start a personal budget model, having worked with leaders and policy makers from the United States, where there is a well-established model. And in Sweden, PO- Skåne has been working as a contractor for local governments to provide personal ombudsmen and a self-determination coordinator for people with psychosocial disabilities.

The parallel session on supported decision making and personal budget models takes place on day 1 of the conference (Wednesday 20th) at 13:30 in M1.

Top picture – Mujo, a beneficiary of Union SUMERO’s shared housing and daily support, now living in his own home.

A woman with intellectual disabilities places her voting paper in the voting box during a drill

Today we begin a multi-part blog where we introduce you to our awardee projects that will be presented at the 2019 Zero Project Conference. We’ll also explore the themes that connect them.

Possibly the largest aspect of political participation for most people is elections, and as such this was a key topic for our research this year. Many projects, both from governments and NGOs are working to improve access to elections for persons with various disabilities.

Accessible elections

Around the world, projects are increasing general access to voting such as Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court’s “Electoral Justice Accessibility Programme” which moves polling stations to accessible buildings, provides staff that can communicate in sign-language and provides electronic voting machines. In Canada, Elections Saskatchewan’s Accessibility Implementation Plan improves homebound voting and improved polling station access, while in Mexico, Instituto Nacional Electoral’s national protocol improves access to polling stations, provides electoral material that promotes Braille ballots and provides sign language at public debates.

A ballot paper overlayed with a sleeve with holes next to Braille numbers

A Braille ballot sleeve in Saskatchewan

Paraguay Electoral Tribunal are improving accessing to elections after endorsing a number of recommendations from USAID and Fundación Saraki, including absentee ballots, plus braille and sign language voting information to improve access to voting. Finally, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in the United States has developed a free-to-download election access observation toolkit which for organisations around the world to observe and collect data on access to electoral processes.

The parallel session on accessible elections takes place on day 2 (21st February) of the Zero Project Conference 2019 in the main room M1 at 14:35 CET.

Inclusive voter information

Information to help persons with disabilities understand the voting process and to choose who they wish to vote for is being made more accessible in some very innovative ways. In Spain, Plena Inclusión runs an awareness raising campaign to encourage those with intellectual disability to use their vote, while in Australia, Inclusion Melbourne is supporting participation through easy-language materials and online campaign information. Similarly, ENABLE Scotland and the UK Electoral Commission are providing easy-read voting guides while also providing accessible hustings. Finally, Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan run group-study opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities to learn about Swedish politics using easy-read material.

A young lady and a young man study voting guides while sat at a table

Voters studying easy-read voting guides in Scotland

The parallel session on inclusive voter information takes place on day 2 (21st February) of the Zero Project Conference 2019 in the main room M1 at 10:55 CET.

Online voting systems and tactile ballots

Alternatives to traditional voting systems are being implemented around the world to allow persons with different disabilities to vote, such as online ballots OmniBallot from Seattle-based Democracy Live which enables voting via computer, tablet or smartphone. Similarly, iVote from Barcelona-based Scytl enables Blind voters to vote via their smartphone in Western Australia.

A young man with a physica disability sat at a desk touching the computer screen

A man using an online touch-sccreen voting system from Democracy Live

An alternative for Blind voters is the use of tactile ballot papers, such as those from Boğaziçi University and the Association of Barrier Free Access in Turkey which allows voting for both those who can or cannot read Braille. In Georgia, the Central Election Commission has created tactile ballot guides which fit over standard ballot papers for Bind voters.

The parallel sessions on online voting systems and tactile ballots take place on day 2 (21st February) of the Zero Project Conference 2019 in room M3 at 16:25 and 17:15 CET respectively.

Banner - Awardees announced next week!

We’re almost there! The factsheets have been written, the report is being formatted and the printer is warming up. In just one week we’ll be able to reveal more than 70 projects that will be announced as Zero Project 2019 Awardees.

These projects have made it through a tough process including two rounds of scoring and reviewing by experts from around the world and have been whittled down from the 318 hopeful applicants that put their cases forward back in the summer.

Since you’ve been so patient, maybe we can give you a little teaser…

We are looking at support for Indigenous persons with disabilities in Canada, election study groups for persons with intellectual disabilities in Sweden, solar-powered hearing aids in Botswana, tactile ballot papers in Turkey and a very “Neate” box in the UK. Can you guess any of them?

2019 in Zero Project green with the Zero Project logo replacing the 0

A very happy new year from the Zero Project! All of us here wish you the best for 2019! What amazing things did you achieve in 2018? Let us know!

Let’s take a little time to reflect on what happened at the Zero Project in 2018. With the help of our incredible partners and friends around the globe we achieved more than we could have dreamed of. Some of our highlights are:

  • We hit our maximum capacity for the Zero Project Conference for the first time – We could never have imagined all those years ago that we’d actually have to be turning people away who wish to attend the conference. As much as we’d have liked, we just couldn’t fit any more innovators, leaders and policy makers into the 2018 Zero Project Conference!

    A large conference room, full of participants

    The main room is packed at the 2018 Zero Project Conference. ©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

  • We introduced the Zero Project Impact Transfer – We partnered with our friends at Ashoka Austria who roped in experienced mentors and experts to help prepare ten Zero Project Awardees to build their models for replication around the globe, culminating in presenting on stage at the Zero Project Conference. Exciting news from some of those projects soon…
  • We grew our following on Facebook by 40% – Over 4,500 people now like the Zero Project on Facebook! Our Facebook videos were viewed over 75,000 times. For our small team, this is truly mind-blowing! Thank-you!
  • We awarded 68 practices and 15 policies – Possibly the most enjoyable part of our work. We were able to celebrate such a range of organisations and projects, from all around the world at the Zero Project Conference award evening.
  • We started two brand new side projects – An accessible IT academy in Vienna – An inclusive course for Cyber Security and Data Protection which is due for it’s first intake in early 2019, and, TOPHOUSE – A project with our partners from around Europe, which aims to support professionals to be inclusive and effective in the social housing system.

    Two people signing forms at an information desk in an event hall

    Interest in the Accessible IT Academy at an information event

  • We presented the Zero Project Anthem for the first time – The inaugural performance of the Zero Project Anthem took place in the rotunda of the United Nations in day 2 of the conference. And what fun it was. Check out the performance, along with 100 students of the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Thank you for being part of our journey in 2018.

Zero Project Snowman in green

It’s that time of year again. The Zero Project will take a little break and enjoy the holidays. And so should you too! We’ll be back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle final preparations for #ZeroCon19!  See you on the other side!

An empty row of chairs in a meeting room with a green Zero Project banner in the background

We are delighted to announce that the first-ever United Nations Report on Disability and Development has referenced Zero Project Innovative Practices and Policies 50 times. The report, released on International Day of Persons with Disabilities was published by, for, and with, persons with disabilities, in the hopes of fostering more accessible, and disability-inclusive societies. It provides direct links to the factsheets in the Endnotes section. Not only this, the report has included dedicated sections to outline examples of good practices, sharing in our passion for presenting solutions.

Secretary-General António Guterres said the report “shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage” regarding most SDGs, “but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently”.

We are honoured that the United Nations has used the Zero Project as a source of so many good practices! This is the whole reason we exist – to find and share outstanding innovations with the world, in the hope they get recognition, support, opportunities to grow and replicate, and act as a source of inspiration. We also hope this shows what can happen when a project is selected as an awardee.

We will be contacting those former awardees who have been referenced in the report individually to celebrate their great achievements over the coming weeks. We’ll also be looking more deeply into the report to see what we can learn from it going forward. But before that, we just want to say a huge congratulations to all those who have been referenced. We are very proud of you all!