Inside a wooden indoor sports hall of Musholm activity and holiday centre, Denmark. 6 young people are in matching, low, 3-wheel wheelchairs, playing a game with a small white ball

Another “Accessible City” – From the Guardian Newspaper

We thought we were the first to think of an accessible city – But we’re pleasantly surprised to see other people around the world are imagining a similar concept. The Guardian newspaper from the United Kingdom recently published an article on what an accessible city might look like. Check out the article which takes us on a whistle-stop tour around the globe, visiting great examples of Universal Design in very different contexts – From mapping accessible sidewalks in Seattle to an accessible sports, conference and holiday resort in Korsør, Denmark, and from accessible office facilities in Singapore to accessing the historic city of Chester in the UK.

As a side note, at the Zero Project we are very proud to have contributed to the UN study “Good Practices of Accessible Urban Development” referenced in this article.

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 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!


A health worker sat outside teaching to a smal group of mothers

The story of Syarifah, health worker at the Suryakanti Foundation

“Parents report that our pupils do well, some even ranking first in their class.”

My name is Syarifah and I am a health cadre in the town of Tanjungsari, located in the city of Sumedang. For more than a decade I have served in Taman Posyandu, a health-post with a playgroup, witnessing how generations of toddlers have come and grown.

Like most women in our village, at first I knew only a little about child development. We believed that children would simply grow naturally. Then, during a health-post training, I joined a session about child development presented by the Suryakanti Foundation. We were taught that to thrive, children need more than just food, clothes, and sleep. We were taught about how we should foster the child’s ability through play and that we must pay attention to any sign of developmental delay, so that we can then stimulate them to catch up.

We are happy to receive reports from parents that our pupils do well. Some of them have ranked first in their class, some have excelled in sports. The important thing is that they all grew into happy, healthy, confident kids. We do this work voluntarily, but having the parents thanking us and seeing the children succeeding in school are simply heart-warming.

We hope that child development training can be held more often, particularly to train new cadres as well as to refresh our own skills. Then we can prove that although the possibilities in rural areas are limited, our village babies can learn and succeed.

Find out more about how Suryakanti Foundation is supporting infants and children at risk of disability in rural Indonesia by reading the factsheet.

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 –
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