A group of 7 senior citizens of Ontario, one using a white cane, one in a mobility scooter, the others standing, smiling at the camera, around a tactile wooden pillar with relief images of people stretching upwards towards a wooden globe

The story of Gail Campbell, Chair of “Access Orangeville”

“We now have ramps in both our town pools – and a chairlift.”

As a member of the Orangeville Town Council and Chair of “Access Orangeville,” I am proud to say that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is being implemented very methodically, such that everyone knows that in the year 2025 our province is going to be totally accessible. It is also being done in a progressive, orderly way so that people are able to accommodate the transition.

I believe the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is making all Ontarians aware that everyone has the right to enjoy all the services that our province offers. To cite just one example, in our town of Orangeville we now have ramps into both of our pools. We also have a chair lift that can help people with disabilities get into either pool as well as personal flotation devices for every size individual.


Read more about how Ontario is being made accessible by reading the factsheet. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will be presented on day 3 of the Zero Project Conference at the WHO GATE forum on assistive technology.

A large open conference room with rows of blue seats with no people, and four large screens overhead displaying the Zero Project logo

How to tune in – #ZeroCon18 – A recap

The Zero Project Conference 2018 begins on Wednesday next week! As our most widely covered conference ever, you can find many different ways of following the action:

  • Live stream – We will be live-streaming the main conference room throughout the entirety of the conference on our Facebook page. Coverage starts at 10:00 CET on Wednesday 21st February.
  • Facebook – Aside from the main live-stream, we will also be posting pictures and video clips of key moments throughout the three days and beyond.
  • Twitter – In tandem with our Facebook posts, we will also be posting media highlights across our Twitter feed.
  • YouTube – Many of the presentations will be uploaded in an accessible format to our YouTube channel, which includes captioning and spoken audio features.
  • #ZeroCon18 hashtag – You may have noticed the hashtag popping up on much of our communication material. Use the hashtag across social media to keep up with the latest from us and our partners.

And please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you!


#ZeroCon18 Awardees Part 2 – Rural Development, Map Apps and Buddies

In two weeks’ time we’ll already be underway with the Zero Project Conference. We have over 25 panel or group sessions covering such a wide range of topics and celebrating the excellent work of the 2018 Innovative Practices and Policies. With that in mind, we bring you part 2 of our walk through of the themes we’re dealing with.

Rural Development

A man wearing blue overalls and a yellow hard hat, holding a protective metal mask against his face, welding metal

Working in an accessible student workshop in Mozambique

With so many amazing innovations taking place in the melting pots of bustling global cities, the rural areas can often be overlooked. Many innovators seek out those who find themselves cut off from the projects and services that are often taken for granted in major cities. In the South-East Sri Lankan district of Moneragala, people are benefitting from accessing more public buildings, schools, polling stations and religious sites by Uva Provincial Council. Rural communities in Nepal are seeing the benefits of disability-inclusive communities with help from the Karuna Foundation, and in Mozambique young people are enjoying training in accessible student hostels thanks to Young Africa.

The parallel session on accessible rural development takes place at 13:50 CET on Wednesday 21st February.

Orientation Map Apps

A map listing accessible venues

Finding accessible buildings using AXS Maps

An exciting growth area in accessibility of buildings is through the use of “trip-advisor”-style map apps which let you know which venues are accessible. And each with their own unique style! In Japan you can check for steps, accessible toilets and even acceptance of service dogs with Bmaps, or follow the GPS tracking of another user’s trail using Wheelog! In Ireland you can choose between the clear “yes”/”no” system with Access Earth or click all the way through to your accessible hotel with Mobility Mojo. And finally, in the United States, you can join a competitive AXS Mapathon to win awards while assessing whole cities!

The parallel session on orientation map apps takes place at 09:50 on Thursday 22nd February.

Finding Buddies and peers

A group of young persons with and without disabilities at a large outside event

Enjoying festivals with your “Gig Buddies”

People enjoy attending events together and there is a small group of determined projects which focus exactly on that. In the South of the UK, persons with learning disabilities and/or autism are enjoying attending events with their volunteer friends through Stay up Late’s “Gig Buddies” programme. And all across Europe, people are rocking out at concerts and festivals thanks to “Inklusion muss laut sein”.

The parallel session on Finding buddies and peers takes place at 14:40 on Thursday 22nd February.


Speakers Announced – #ZeroCon18

We’re honoured to have so many people coming from all around the world to take part in #Zerocon18. We’re looking forward to seeing every single one of you! Below, we give you just some of the names that we’re privileged to welcome to the conference.

Gail Kent, European Commission

Kent is one of the most senior British officials in the European Commission in Luxembourg. She is Director of Data in one of the largest Directorate Generals (DG CONNECT – Gail KentCommunications Networks, Content & Technology) and was throughout 2016 the acting Deputy Director General. Her current responsibilities include both policy and programme management in the fields of Data Economy, promoting cultural heritage and removing digital barriers. Kent will present on the European Web Accessibility Directive on day 2 of the conference during the session on Standards, Manuals and Toolboxes.

Hector Minto, MicrosoftHector Minto

Minto is Senior Technology Evangelist (Accessibility) for global tech giant Microsoft. He has worked in the field of Assistive Technology for over 20 years, focussing on speech and physical disability and will not only give a keynote on day one, but give his views at the Corporate and Entrepreneurship Forum on the same afternoon.

Yetnebersh Nigussie, Light for the WorldYetnebersh Nigussie

Nigussie is an Ethiopian lawyer working for human rights. Born in Northern Ethiopia and blind from the age of five after contracting meningitis, Nigussie has since co-founded the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development and in 2015 won the African Most Influential Women in Business and Politics Award in the category of welfare and civil society organisations. In 2017 she was also named a winner of the Right Livelihood Award, otherwise known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. Nigussie will give a keynote to close day 2 of the conference on Thursday 22nd February.



See the full list of attendees by checking out the full agenda on the Conference website. And don’t forget, you’ll be able to watch all the action from the main room which will be streamed live throughout the conference. We’ll let you know how soon!


People with different disabilities on a boat.

#ZeroCon18 awardees part 1 – Tourism, blind orientation and justice

Last week saw the release of the #Zerocon18 awardee Innovative Policies and Practices. If you didn’t know this, where have you been!? Accessibility is the widest-ranging topic of our four-year research cycle and even for us it can be difficult to get to grips with the sheer breadth of this category. With that in mind we’re going to walk you through some of the themes over the next few weeks to give you a flavour of the topics being discussed at the conference.

People with different disabilities on a boat.

Planet Abled from India provides accessible tours and matches “buddies”

Many projects make it easier to travel and sightsee, such as Scandic Hotels who are striving to make their whole hotel chain accessible, with their own dedicated Accessibility Director and an interactive training course on accessibility for all it’s 15,000 employees. Other organisations focus on tailored accessible tours and activities such as Europe Without Barriers and South America for All who offer accessible Itineraries and accommodation, or Planet Abled from India who offer tailored activities that you can carry out with your matched ‘buddy’.
The parallel session on accessible tourism takes place at midday CET on Wednesday 21st February.

A woman with visual impairments using a blind stick and wayfindr.

The International Standard on Indoor Audio Navigation from ITU and Wayfindr

Orientation and other services for the blind
The technology available to help persons with visual impairments navigate is improving at an ever-increasing pace. You can now navigate areas independently with voice messages being read through your phone using the LVE system, or even set up your own indoor beacon navigation system using the international standard from ITU and Wayfindr.
The parallel session on accessible orientation systems for the blind takes place on Wednesday 21st February at 13:30

Sample of communication boards.

Alternative methods of communication for investigations in Israel.

A small, but determined group of people are working around the world to find innovative ways to improve people’s access to fair and equal justice. In Israel, “The Right to Justice” helps persons who cannot use speech or writing to communicate in complex investigations. And in the Spanish principality of Asturias persons with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to understand complex court verdicts by having their own copy in easy-language.

A collage of over 30 winner pictures, including persons using electronic deviced, accessible buildings and groups of people enjoying outdoor activities

Announcing the #ZeroCon18 awardees!

We are excited and proud to bring you the Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies 2018. This year, on the topic of “Accessibility”, we bring you 68 Practices and 15 Policies from all around the world, which remove barriers for persons with disabilities. Each year it becomes harder and harder for us and our global network of experts to select the most innovative projects that help persons with disabilities. Unfortunately so many incredible projects did not make this years’ final list, owing to the staggering quality and sheer volume of nominations. It’s deeply encouraging to know that so many amazing projects are going on every single day and we are honoured to welcome these organisations to the 2018 Conference in February. Visit the Practices and Policies pages of the Zero Project website to see each project in detail.

A massive congratulations to:

Access Earth
Access Israel
Accessibility Organization for Afghan Disabled
Action on Disability Rights and Development (ADRAD)
AlManarah Library
APA TopEasy
APSA & Tempe
BarrierBreak – NewzHook
Beit Issie Shapiro – Friendship Park
Central Bank of Ireland
City of Oslo
Corporacion Ciudad Accesible (CCA)
CSF Global – Development Centres
Department of Transport, South Africa
Enable India – Namma Vaani
Europe Without Barriers
European Parliament and Euopean Commission
European Union and U.S. Access Board
Exceptional Lives, Inc.
FENASCOL – “Centro de Relevo”
FKM BKA in Aceh
Fundación ONCE International Contemporary Art Biennale
Fundacion Prodis
Gala Promter – GalaPro
Gallaudet University
Government of the Emirate of Dubai
Inklusion muss laut sein
Institute for Disabilities Research and Training
International Committee of the Red Cross MoveAbility Foundation
International Telecommunication Union and Wayfindr
Jaipur Foot Organization – BMVSS
JKJ SRL and Associazione Disabili Visivi Onlus
Karuna Foundation – Inspire2Care
Lazarillo Tec SPA
Mary Free Bed YMCA
Microsoft Inc. – Office 365
Migdal Or
Ministry of Information and Communications Technology of Colombia
Mirairo Inc Bmaps
Mobile & Wireless Forum – GARI
Mobility Mojo
Mopius – MenuSpeak
Municipality of Grenoble
Museum of Modern Art
Open Doors Organization -Open Taxis
Orcam MyEye
ÖZIV – Barrier Check
PADM – Wheelog!
PIKSL Laboratories and E.ON
Planet Abled
Plena Inclusión, Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Asturias and the Government of the Principality of Asturias
Poses Family Foundation – Understood.org
Province of Ontario
Salzburg Museum
Saraki Foundation and USAID
Scandic Hotels
Société Logique
South America For All
Stay Up Late – Gig Buddies
Sub-County of Nabbale, Uganda
Suryakanti Foundation Centre
Telemark’s County Council, County Governor, Road Administration and Trekking Association
The Asian SignBank
The Balkan Museum Access Group
The Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union and ENAT
The Right to Be Heard
UniCredit Bank Austria
UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and ISO
US Department of State
Uva Provincial Council, Sri Lanka
Visit Flanders
World Access for the Blind
World Blind Union and World Intellectial Property Organization
Young Africa
Young Guru Academy

A collage of over 30 winner pictures, including persons using electronic deviced, accessible buildings and groups of people enjoying outdoor activities

#ZeroCon18 awardees announced tomorrow!

Our amazing network have the patience and discipline of saints. After submitting applications back in June and going through a rigorous multi-stage analysis and voting process, they were finally told if they were successful back in October. And then their reward was to stay quiet about it for the next three months! But the wait is almost over – Tomorrow we can finally announce the awardees that we are so proud and humbled to call Zero Project Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies 2018. We cannot wait to hear more from all these incredible projects which you will be able to read about on the website from tomorrow. And if you can’t wait – Check out the picture above. How many can you guess?

A large group-photo at the front stage of the Zero Project conference. People are smiling and waving

One month to go! #ZeroCon18

Has it been a year already!? There is just one month to go until the 2018 Zero Project Conference and behind the scenes it is a hive of activity! There is so much to share with you over the coming weeks. We will be releasing some of the great names who will be presenting at the conference – There are some experienced favourites and also plenty of exciting new blood! We will also begin to get into depth with some of the 2018 awardee projects as we share life stories of those who are benefitting every day from these inspirational projects. Finally, we will tell you how you can follow along and not miss a moment of the action through our conference live stream and social media. Keep up to date with the latest by going to the Conference page using the hashtag across Facebook and Twitter #ZeroCon18!

A black world map against a green Zero Project background with question marks all around the world.

Innovative Practices and Policies 2018 to be announced next week!

Next week we will finally be able to share with you the Zero Project Innovative Practices and Policies for 2018!

This year has been record breaking for many reasons – The highest number of nominations ever, the biggest and widest network of experts ever to vote, and the largest number of countries ever to be involved in the process. All this amazing effort from our friends, partners and our own modest team in Vienna has culminated in a list of 93 exceptional practices and policies.

We’re very excited to share these incredible, inspiring projects with you which span the length and breadth of the globe. From making it easier to get out and about in the Norwegian countryside, to accessing rehabilitation in Togo, and from hopping in a 24/7, 365 accessible taxi in the United States to planning accessible disaster evacuation strategies in Indonesia. Yes, this is indeed a tiny teaser of the projects we’re so proud to share with you, that aim to make the world just that little bit more accessible.

Stay tuned for the full list next week!

Tom Butcher with Maria Martinho

Zero Project Presents at UN DESA

By Tom Butcher, Zero Project representative in the U.S.

The Zero Project was recently asked by Maria Martinho (Secretariat for the CRPD/DSPD/UNDESA) to present at the 5th Expert Group Meeting on Monitoring and Evaluation for Disability-Inclusive Development at the UN in New York. As our representative here, I attended the meeting which took place at the headquarters of UNESCO over two days on December 13th and 14th.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to review the work conducted to date on, and what further needed to be accomplished for, the 2018 UN flagship report on disability and development to be published by its deadline later in 2018. To this end, in a series of sessions, experts presented the inputs received for specific sections of the report (each relating to either one SDG goal or a combination of such goals). These included, for example, the goals covering inclusive and accessible cities/human settlement (SDG 11), poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 and 2) and gender equality and empowerment of women with disabilities (SDG 5).

On the second day of the meeting, following these individual sessions, we, along with two other experts, were asked to make presentations on our “ongoing work on disability”.

Tom Butcher with Maria Martinho at the UN DESA Conference December 2017

The first two presentations came from Nancy Bolt of the International Federation of Library Associations, who talked about international library policies and procedures for people with disabilities and the SDGs, and Willetta Waisath from the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, who talked about building and using global law and policy data to monitor and advance rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities.
I, then, gave a very brief presentation about our work, in general, covering social indicators and innovative policies and, much more specifically, about what we had discovered to be the important elements that had contributed to the success of the 11 innovative policies selected for inclusion in the 2017 Zero Project Report on Employment.
The two days were both most interesting and constructive, and it was an honour for us to be included in such august company. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my time at the UN was both catching up with so many of our old friends who were there and introducing our work to people who had never heard of us.
Thank you, Maria!