A group picture of young adults holding a sign saying "I heart ADP".

The story of Atif Jilany, MBA, user of NOWPDP

“I am employed at Abu Dawood Group now.”

My name is Atif Jilany and I have a MBA in finance. I also have muscular dystrophy. I can still recall the days when my mother used to carry me in her arms all the way to my school. Falling from the overcrowded public buses has been a constant part of my life!

I always aspired to work in a place where I would be treated like anyone else – a place where people would see my abilities before they saw my crutches. I have recently joined the Abu Dawood Group through a disability inclusion programme conducted by NOWPDP, and I believe I have found the very place that I have been looking.

NOWPDP, in collaboration with Abu Dawood Group, has made special accessibility arrangements in the office and provided me with the appropriate transport service. Sensitization sessions and other trainings conducted by NOWPDP have made sure that the other staff members are well aware of my needs.

Through the project I have gotten the opportunity to work as an executive in human resources, where I facilitate the employees and ensure that the company’s code of conduct is maintained throughout the organization. I manage attendance, third-party recruitment, and various other tasks to facilitate the smooth operation of the HR Department, learning new skills and techniques through every task.

Read more about how NOWPDP is supporting businesses in creating accessible workplaces and infrastructure by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Christian and his Gig Buddy.

The story of Christian, a Gig Buddy

“I have gained a life-long friend.”

My name is Christian. I’m a young man who has mild autism and learning disabilities, and I have often felt socially isolated and wanted to get out more and meet new people. Three and a half years ago I became a Gig Buddy and got matched up with my volunteer, Jo.

It was a bit like a blind date. We were matched as people who lived close together and shared a passion for music. I rarely socialised with people outside my family before I found Gig Buddies. Gig Buddies has allowed me and Jo to experience so many great things. I introduced Jo to the beautiful voice of Gregory Porter and got to share my love of Kylie with her, too. So we both get a lot out of being Gig Buddies.

Gig Buddies has made me a stronger and more confident person. Before meeting Jo, I couldn’t be around so many people, but she is always encouraging me to get out there. I’ve even got to know Jo’s friends, and I’m comfortable talking to them without her there. I have got the best Gig Buddy out of it – friends for life!

Read more about how Gig Buddies is teaming up persons with learning disabilities or autism for leisure activities by reading the factsheet. 


A picture of Edit Greni.

The story of Edit Greni, user of a public community centre in Oslo

“It does me so much good to join in and be able to move to music.”

My name is Edit Greni and I am 85 years old. I have been a widow for 20 years and retired for 18 years. It is good to have a community centre where others who live in similar situations can meet. I like going there, and I visit the centre several times a week.

During the past year I have been participating in a project offering dance activities, where we also learn about ballet productions taking place in the city. It does me so much good to join in and be able to move to music. When we dance we engage with our whole body, regardless of our physical capability. But we are also interacting with each other communally. It is as if we become one when we hold hands.

My desire is to dare to do even more. It is important, therefore, that I continue to stay active. When we are old it can seem like it is predetermined that we should just sit there, but I am still playful and want to continue to draw upon what is inside me.

Read more about how Oslo is improving the universal design within the City by reading the factsheet.

Two people using the application.

The story of Ilan Pearlman, GalaPro User

“I have the full Broadway experience!”

My name is Ilan Pearlman and I am 35 years old. I am a software engineer at a small start-up in Tel Aviv. I am also a big fan of music, musicals, and any and all live shows or theatres. I am also deaf.

My parents discovered I was deaf when I was four, but today I can partially hear with the assistance of hearing aids. Most people would find it surprising how much I enjoy music, being that I am hard of hearing. My love of music has also made me a fan of live concerts – while at a concert there is no need for me to wear headphones or struggle since I am always able to hear and enjoy.

My love of musical theatre stems from my mother. I’ve always enjoyed watching everyone on stage with all the costumes, music, and dancing. It is mesmerizing! However, I was very limited in this hobby because I always had to wait to see captioned performances or had to buy specific seats in order to be near where the captions appeared.

I learned about the GalaPro app at one of the main theatres in Tel Aviv one evening. I had planned to attend a captioned performance with a friend, but with GalaPro I was able to sit in any seat and follow along with my phone – it really changed and improved my entire experience.

My current job brings me to New York City quite often, and every time I visit I make sure to get myself to Broadway!

Read more about how GalaPro is providing synchronized accessibility and translation services for live theatre shows and movies by reading the factsheet. 

An picture of Kevin using the escalator on the tube station.

The story of Kevin, user of Wayfindr

“I felt empowered with the accuracy of the directions in the Underground.”

My name is Kevin. Currently, blind and partially sighted commuters like me have to rely on station staff to assist them onto their train. They also have to be met at their destination by someone. Wayfindr was born out of a dream for the visually impaired to be able to travel completely independently on the London Underground.

Using Wayfindr is an awesome experience! Thanks to the audio instructions provided using the system’s Open Standard, I know exactly where I am and where to go at all times. At Pimlico Station, for example, I turn right, walk ten paces, and just as I step onto the platform Wayfindr confirms my arrival. All I have to do now is wait for the next train, confident in the knowledge I am on the right platform.

Before testing Wayfindr I’d never been to Pimlico, so the fact that I can do this guided only by a mobile app is a really big deal. It could save me an immense amount of time and make my journey much less stressful, given that I or any other visually impaired commuter does not have to worry if there is a staff person available to assist us, a particular problem at night.

Using Wayfindr, I am empowered by the accuracy of the directions provided, and I really feel like any other commuter walking on my own to catch a train.

Read more about how Wayfindr makes audio navigation systems accessible for persons with visual impairments by reading the factsheet.

A panel of experts presenting at the Zero Project

That was the Zero Project Conference 2018

What can we say… After a weekend of relaxation and rest, we can finally reflect on what happened over the last week. We are sitting here in the office feeling happy, inspired and grateful as we let everything sink in after a whirlwind of activity. So the big question – What did actually happen on those three rousing days at the United Nations in Vienna…

650 people travelled from 70 countries to the United Nations Offices in Vienna

The United Nations Offices in Vienna, in the snow

A snowy UN offices in Vienna


Almost 650 people got onto planes, trains and automobiles

to make the journey from all corners of the globe to participate in this truly global conference. Those travelling from the warmer climates of Indonesia, Ecuador and Ethiopia experienced quite a drop in temperature as they were welcomed to a cold and snowy Vienna.


190 presenters gave their views across 40 sessions

A panel of experts presenting at the Zero Project

A panel of experts presenting at the Zero Project Conference


Almost 200 people presented their ideas, views and projects which support persons with disabilities, across over 40 separate sessions spanning three conference rooms. In total there were 20 sessions for innovations, 8 forums discussing accessibility issues, 11 inspirational keynote speeches and 2 couch discussions.



The Zero Project anthem was presented for the first time and the Zero Project Artwork was unveiled

Over 50 singers, both male and female, of the Longfield Choir sing the Zero Project anthem in front of a sitting audience. The Choir and onlookers are waving and smiling

The Longfield Choir with the first public performance of the Zero Project Anthem


The Longfield Choir gave the inaugural performance of the Zero Project anthem at a special event at the Rotunda of the UN Offices in Vienna.

The anthem commemorates the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and was performed alongside the unveiling of the Zero Project artwork. The artwork, which celebrates the dignity of man, is a donation from the Essl Foundation and is on display in the rotunda, with many accessible features including a tactile board and relief images.

30 exciting projects exhibited their work

Melissa Malzkuhn of Gallaudet University stands behind a desk with posters behind, presenting the "VL2 Storybook Creator" on a tablet

Melissa Malzkuhn of Gallaudet University presenting VL2 Storybook Creator


Throughout the duration of the conference over 30 projects from around

the world exhibited their work to conference attendees, including apps to support navigation, read-aloud menus, tactile storybooks and audio libraries for the blind and visually impaired.

75 Awards were presented

75 Awardees of the Innovative Practices and Innovative

Yuriko Oda from Wheelog in Japan poses for a photo with members of the Zero Project Team as she collects her award certificate at the evening ceremony

Yuriko Oda of Wheelog collecting her award from Martin Essl

Policies 2018 received their awards from Martin Essl, founder of the Essl Foundation during a ceremony in front of over 500 experts and leaders in disability from around the world.


150,000 people were reached via Facebook

#ZeroCon18 was trending at number 2 in Austria at times during the conference.

Two men from the Zeitecht video team set up and monitor the filming equipment at the back of a conference room

The Zeitecht Team prepare the rooms for the live stream

During the week from 20th to 26th February 150,000 people accessed content on the Zero Project Facebook page, with 50,000 views of videos during that time and the total followers passed 4,000 for the first time!

An empty row of chairs in a conference room, with the Zero Project logo on a poster in the background

Ready, steady, go! #ZeroCon18

The speakers are primed, the hotels and flights are booked and the technology is warming up.

Then there’s nothing more we can do, but say have a wonderful time, whether you’re presenting, exhibiting, networking, or simply watching online from the comfort of your own home.

Remember to follow along on Facebook tuning in on our Livestream and Twitter. Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ZeroCon18, so you don’t miss anything!

Here’s to the Zero Project Conference 2018! We hope we can inspire you as much as you inspire us!

The cover of the Zero Project Report and two pages - one showing a coloured map with regions of the world and the other showing a large block of text

Announcing the Zero Project Report 2018!

We are excited to present you with the Zero Project Report 2018 on the topic of Accessibility. The report is the culmination of a whole year of research into accessibility-related issues, including the state of the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) around the world and innovations that help make everything more accessible for persons with disabilities.


  • 68 Innovative Practices – The report presents the projects, programmes, products and services which made it through the long and detailed research, nomination and voting process, which help accessibility in many aspects of life, including the built environment, ICT, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and more.
  • 15 Innovative Policies – Innovative laws, regulations and standards from the same nomination and voting process are also presented – Showing how government bodies and international standards organisations are setting the framework for an accessible environment.
  • 37 Life Stories – The actual impact on the ground is presented through the eyes of the beneficiaries. 37 people tell their personal stories of how the Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies have made a measurable improvement on their day-to-day lives.
  • Social Indicators – The report gives an update on the implementation of the UN CRPD, looking specifically at accessibility-related themes. It presents the results of surveys from 126 experts from 105 countries, presented on a region basis, and with snap-shot statements from specific countries.

You can view and download a pdf copy of the report by visiting the links in this article or by visiting the download section of the website.

A female sign language interpreter with hands up in front of her face, in front of a Zero Project poster

Accessibility at #ZeroCon18 – Did you know that…

Running this topic for the second time in five years has given us a great opportunity to learn more about accessibility and try to implement the excellent ideas into our own practices. Here are 23 measures we have taken to improve accessibility at the Zero Project Conference 2018 and beyond:

1. Zero Project Report 2018 is produced as an accessible pdf.
2. All Factsheets on Innovative Practices and Policies can also be accessed and downloaded in accessible MS Word.
3. The Zero Project nomination and evaluation forms are available in alternative formats and five languages. A video with captions explains the nomination process for persons with hearing or visual impairments.
4. All sessions (of the Zero Project Conference are captioned and subtitled (a total of 50 on three days in three rooms).
5. The Zero Project Conference Plenary Room is webstreamed live with captioning and sign language interpretation.
6. All PowerPoint presentations are made according to accessibility principles, following strict guidelines provided by the Zero Project team. All are available after the Conference.
7. PowerPoint presentations by all Innovative Practices and Policy-presenters are also recorded as video (MP4) that are accessible to persons who are deaf or blind, with captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons and subtitles read out loud too for visually impaired persons.
8. Those Presentation videos are uploaded to the Zero Project Youtube channel (search for #zerocon18 on Youtube) using the English subtitles. Using Youtube-subtitling technology the captioning can be translated into more than 40 languages.
9. Throughout the Conference, a graphic facilitator will be present in some of the sessions, making the content of these sessions easier to access by her drawings. The graphics are also summarized at the end of each session.
10. All graphics will also be uploaded to on the Zero Project website for easier access to the research content.
11. All videos shown at the Zero Project Conference are presented fully accessible for people who are deaf or blind, in consultation with the Zero Project team.
12. Keynote and other speakers are obliged to submit their speeches in written a few days before the conference to increase the quality of captioning and sign language translations.
13. The Zero Project Conference is working with three different teams of certified sign language interpreters, two in International Sign Language (ISL) and one in American Sign Language (ASL).
14. Induction loops are installed at the reception and info-desks to support persons who are hard of hearing.
15. All Conference facilities are augmented with accessibility features for persons with visual disabilities, especially orientation and security features are added to the venue.
16. A video explains the accessibility of the Zero Project Conference and all its accessibility features for people who are deaf and sign language users. The video is shared on Social Media and also shown at the beginning of the Zero Project Conference.
17. The Zero Project team is organizing accessible hotel rooms for all participants and is available for consulting and support to find accessible venues.
18. All participants with physical and/or visual disabilities are picked up at the airport after their arrival and transferred to their hotels, as well as back to the airport after the Conference, free of charge to participants.
19. Dedicated team members of the Zero Project are assisting participants who are blind and come without assistants, throughout the whole conference.
20. The Zero Project team provides some support also outside the conference venue, especially for blind people who come without assistants, with dedicated team member that can be approached using a helpline.
21. The Zero Project team is actively encouraging peer-support throughout the conferencing using the information of capabilities and needs that are asked for at the registration, especially for all forms of translation and assistance.
22. The Zero Project website is in the process of certification according to WCAG 2.0 AA, one of the first certifications in Austria, jointly with Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs and the OCG (Austrian Computer Society).
23. The accessibility of the Zero Project Conference 2018 is evaluated by Escola de Gente/Brazil and the evaluation used to continuously improve the accessibility of all Zero Project activities.



Fatima Maghzaz

The story of Fatima Maghzaz, teacher

“I created a little Arabic reading book in sign language.”

My name is Fatima Maghzaz, and I am a teacher at the Fatima Timouria School in the city of Berrchid, Morocco. I currently have ten deaf students in my class of various ages.
Working with deaf students is difficult but fascinating at the same time. Recently, I attended a teacher-training workshop in Rabat, Morocco, conducted by the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, during which I learned a great deal and received a lot of information that will facilitate my work as a teacher.

I put in a lot of effort and time developing teaching materials for my students. For example, I recently spent almost six months to create a little Arabic reading book, but when I saw the Dictionary and the Publisher in “Moroccan Sign Language Clip and Create” – the software developed by IDRT – I was astounded! If I had that software before, the work I did in six months could have been done in two or three weeks. But, as they say, “It is better late than never.” I can’t wait to get my copy of the next software version release and begin developing other books for my students.

I want to thank Dr. Corinne Vinopol, the Project Director, for her professionalism and kindness and all workshop presenters. You have made my task much easier!


Read more about how IDRT is improving access to education for deaf children in Morocco by reading the factsheet. Corinne Vinopol of IDRT will be presenting at day 2 of the Zero Project Conference 2018 in the session “Sign Language Solutions”.