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I have the confidence to make life choices I could never even imagine.

My name is Rodrigo and I am 29 years old from Cuernavaca, Mexico. When I arrived at Unidos it was something unexpected because I had never separated from my family. In spite of this, my parents considered it important for me to attend and socialize. I loved it because for the first time in my life I had my own friends, friends who were not my mom’s or my dad’s or anyone else’s friends. They were my own friends! I’ve never in my life enjoyed something as much as Unidos. Thanks to Unidos now I have the confidence to make life choices I could never even imagine. I´m going to take acting lessons and have a part time job.

Find out more about Unidos’ social inclusion programmes by reading the Unidos factsheet.

A photo of Patricio in his pig farm

“Now I am raising pigs and getting support for it from the municipality.”

My name is Patricio and I am 38 years old. Seven years ago, due to an accident at work, I lost my right leg. For four years I took refuge in alcohol and did not want to leave the house. I separated from my wife and daughters.

The field promoter of the MINKA project visited me a few times in my home to invite me to meetings of the local self-help group. After much reluctance I decided to attend the meetings, and since then I have not stopped.

I have also actively participated in meetings for the elaboration of the local disability law in my municipality, and I have defended the ordinance at town hall meetings.

My life has changed radically.

I am currently the president of the new association of people with disabilities in the municipality of Espíndola. I have returned to work and have obtained support for the raising of pigs, thanks to compliance with the local law that states that the municipality will support the small businesses of people with disabilities and their families. Now I travel to other towns in the municipality to disseminate and promote compliance with the ordinance.

But most importantly, I have regained confidence in myself and have re-established my family.

Read more about the MINKA project in this factsheet.

Photo of Hun Sreynak, a user of Light for the World`s Leadership Skills for Women with Disabilities programme

“We are helped, and we help other women with disabilities through setting up our own projects.”

My name is Hun Sreynak and I contracted polio at the age of three. I was not able to walk, and when I wanted to start attending school my parents told me I could not do so because of my disability. So I spent a whole year teaching myself to walk so I could attend school.

I faced discrimination in many ways during my school years, and especially at university where I had to crawl up the stairs to class on the third and fifth floors. This is the situation for many people with disabilities in Cambodia – they face discrimination in all stages of life, especially women.

In 2016, I applied and got accepted to Light for the World’s Leadership Skills for Women with Disabilities programme. Here I met many women with different types of disabilities, and I learned that I was not alone! We all had good times together and enjoyed the training. This programme empowers us: we learn, share, and practice monitoring and evaluation, all of which provides us with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate our competency and ability to other people.

We are helped, and we help other women with disabilities through setting up our own projects. In 2017, my new leadership skills were acknowledged as I formally joined Light for the World as a Programme Liaison Officer; and in 2018, I received a scholarship for a Master’s programme in Disability Studies in Kuala Lumpur.

Read more about Light for the World’s Leadership Skills for Women with Disabilities project in their factsheet.

Photo of Osku Timonen holding his EU Disability Card

“I could enjoy the music on an accessible platform and with a good view.”

My name is Osku Timonen, and in June 2018 I became one of the very first recipients of an EU Disability Card in Finland. I don’t need any assistive devices, but in my daily life I do need some help, for example, while carrying food and drinks.

The card has already proven very useful in several situations. For instance, last summer I had a chance to participate in a number of music festivals, and in each instance the festival staff warmly welcomed me after I showed them my EU Disability Card. As a result, I was able to enjoy the music on an accessible platform and with a very good view of the main stage. The card has also been useful on the Finnish railways, where I have readily found someone to help me to carry my things. And in the cinemas the card has been an easy way to prove my disability and my need for assistance.

As I’m a very keen traveller, I am hoping that the EU Disability Card will also prove helpful while travelling abroad.

You can find out more about the EU Disability Card by reading the factsheet.

A photo of Enya, a beneficiary of the Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation Programme (PREPACE)

“My father publicly apologized to me for being so overprotective.”

My name is Enya. I was born in a home with three brothers in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Being the only girl and living with cerebral palsy, I had all the affection but also the overprotection of my family, and so grew up as a shy child. I graduated from high school with the support of the PREPACE Inclusive Education Programme, but I could not go to university due to economic and accessibility difficulties.

This harsh reality motivated me to participate as a founder of the Honduran Independent Living Movement (MOVIH), and I was selected to travel to Osaka, Japan, to take the course on Independent Living at the Mainstream Independent Living Centre. I had to persuade myself that I could do it, and I had to persuade my parents to give me permission.

I returned with a positive attitude, surer of myself and of what I wanted from life. I travelled the country convening conferences, but my family still put obstacles in my way. My father attended a training conducted by MOVIH on the role of parents in the lives of people with disabilities. As a result, he publicly apologized to me for being so overprotective and for having limited me by deciding for me. From that moment on, he promised to respect my decisions, and he has complied.

Yuo can read more about the programme in the PREPACE factsheet.

Banner with awardee crest with words award winner 2019

We are delighted to announce the Zero Project Innovative Practices and Policies 2019!

We bring to you 65 practices and 11 policies from around the world that help persons with disabilities on our 2019 topic of Independent Living and Political Participation. We are overwhelmed with the range and quality of the projects and are pleased to bring you solutions from a staggering 42 countries!

These projects cover a range of topics including accessible voting, housing, deinstitutionalisation, supported decision making, political representation, justice, smart technology, children and youth, the arts and inclusive daily life.

A huge congratulations to every single one of these incredible organisations. We’re immensely honoured to be able to promote your amazing work!

I think it’s best that we keep this short and let you explore the projects yourself. The full list is:

Community Connections Australia / Jeenee Mobile and the “Big Red Button” app
Inclusion Melbourne – ICanVote
Curtin University – Individual Supported Living
Scytl – iVote programme


Two young children holding their hands on their heads

kinderhände from Austria teaches sign language to children and parents

Jugend Eine Welt – WeltWegWeiser
Basic Initiative for Sport and Inclusion – Inklusion Sport

National Mental Health Programme

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Solar Ear

Superior Electoral Court – Electoral Justice Accessibility Programme
Escola de Gente – Accessibility Promotion Agents

Two wheelchair users face each other against a backdrop of post-it notes on a wall

Light for the World trains women in Cambodia to be leaders


Light for the World – Commune and Village Disability Representatives
Light for the World – Leadership Programme for Women with Disabilities
PPCIL – Personal Assistant Service System (PASS)

The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
British Columbia Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
Elections Saskatchewan
March of Dimes – Home and Vehicle Modification Program

Profamilia, ASDOWN Colombia, LICA and PAIIS

Fundación Discapacidad y Desarrollo

A young girl in a swimming suit sitting on the edge of a pool with her wheelchair behind her

Alhassan Foundation in Egypt offers a range of services including sporting opportunities

Alhassan Foundation


KVPS – EU Disability Card implementation

Central Election Commission

Greta & Starks – GRETA app

Basic Needs Ghana


Inclov matchmaking app
NCPEDP and Mphasis
Mom’s Belief

A young child lying on the floor between a mother and volunteers receives physical therapy

SEHATI Sukoharjo’s inclusion clubs bring together professionals and parents to exchange skills

SEHATI Sukoharjo – Inclusion Clubs

Genio Trust – Service Reform Fund

Enosh (The Israeli Mental Health Association) – Seeds of Wellness
JDC and Israel Unlimited – Personal budget model
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Israeli Ministry Of Education – Volunteering for a Change


Fightthestroke – Mirrorable

Organization for Broadcasting and Communications for People with Disabilities – Listening with your Eyes

Three adults shopping in a supermarket

Psychoanalytic Association Kazakhstan supportss persons with intellectual disabilities to live independently outside of institutions

Psychoanalytic Association – SIL Programme

Empowerment Through Integration (ETI)
Forum for the Handicapped

IFES – Electoral Sign Language Lexicon


Unidos Somos Iguales
Instituto Nacional Electoral

Keystone Moldova – Forum Theatre
Keystone Moldova – Community for All Moldova

Disable Empowerment and Communication Centre

A elderly wheelchair user casts her vote

USAID, Fundación Saraki, Electoral Tribunal worked together to improve voting accessibility in Paraguay (Copyright Fundacion Saraki, USAID Paraguay)

USAID, Fundación Saraki, Electoral Tribunal

Pro ACT Suport
Ceva de Spus Association – Graphic novel Becoming Eli

Elementary and Boarding School “Milan Petrovic”

SG Enable – “Tech Able” showroom

South Africa
Wigital – FingerTalk

Fundación ONCE
Plena Inclusión España – Mi Voto Cuenta


A man sat down with study material, raising his hand

Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan teaches voting processes and democracy to persons with intellectual disabilities in Sweden (copyright Peter Timar Lonneborg)

Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan – My Choice/My Election
PO-Skåne – Personal ombudsmen

Boğaziçi University and the Association of Barrier Free Access

United Kingdom
Headway – The Justice Project, Brain Injury Identity Card
ENABLE Scotland – #ENABLEtheVote
Neatebox — “Welcome by Neatebox” app
Disability Pride Belfast & Vehicles for Change – Mobiloo
Lumos Foundation

United States
MIUSA / Global Disability RightsNow!
IFES – Election Access Observation Toolkit
Democracy Live – OmniBallot
The Arc of the United States – Wings for Autism
DanceAbility International
The Arc of the United States – NCCJD, Pathways to Justice®

Viet Nam
BasicNeeds Viet Nam


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“I would highly recommend the Exceptional Lives Guides to all parents and caregivers of children with disabilities.”

My name is Jim Gibbons. My wife and I have two children (18 and 20). Katie, our youngest child, has been disabled her entire life. She is non-verbal, uses a wheelchair and is 100% dependent on others for all daily living tasks. As Katie approached the age of 18, I as a parent had a lot to do. We needed to apply for guardianship and get SSI for Katie. I had no idea where to begin. Luckily, I found out about Exceptional Lives and their free, easy-to-use Guides.

I was able set up an account and look over all the Guides that Exceptional Lives provided. I knew the Guardianship and SSI Guides were going to help us a lot. I was able to preview the processes and get an idea of what lie ahead. I really liked being able to download all of the forms needed and work on them at my own pace. I was able to go back and get more information when necessary, and the checklists kept me organized. After gathering all the required paperwork, the Guides walked me through the filing process.

We were successful at obtaining guardianship and getting SSI for Katie. Transitional ages like turning 18 are difficult on parents, but having supports like the Guides help to make it go a lot smoother. I would highly recommend the Exceptional Lives Guides to all parents and caregivers of children with disabilities.

Read more about the resources nad guides developed by Exceptional Lives by reading the factsheet.

A photo of Imran Ganchi

“Instead of helping persons with disabilities to walk, we should teach them how to stand on their own.”

My name is Imran Ghanchi, and as a post-polio affectee, I have been working with NOWPDP since 2012, currently working with their External Engagement department. However, earlier I was a part of NOWPDP’s Rickshaw Project, where we pioneered the design for retrofitted rickshaws for people with lower limb impairments.

During my childhood, I never wanted my parents to treat me any differently than my other siblings due to. After 9th grade I had to leave my education due to lack of accessibility at my school, however, I still managed to get training and excel in different trades such as, plumbing and auto-mechanics. Despite being professionally sound, people, organizations and shops wouldn’t hire me because of my disability and this would leave me demotivated and disheartened.

This is where NOWPDP came in. I came across NOWPDP while searching for jobs and was able to join them through the Rickshaw Project, further developing my skills and working towards an inclusive society. NOWPDP’s model accessible workplace helped me to move around independently and unhindered, allowing me to complete any task as well as anybody else at work.

The chance to work at a barrier free organization has been comforting, while the ease has helped me enhance my skill, all the while boosting my morale and sporting my positive outlook on life.

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

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Inclusion in action: Jack shows students what’s possible with Office 365, a screen reader and a keyboard

When a sighted person walks into Jack Mendez’s classroom, one of the first things they notice is a workstation without a screen. For Jack, this is a striking example how far assistive technology has advanced.

“I have a computer without a screen, and that’s intentional because I want people to understand that all you need is a keyboard and some headphones.” said Jack. “You can produce and consume content and use the computer and navigate just with the screen reader and your keyboard.”

As the Director of Technology at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, Jack is in charge of the school’s IT systems and the software used to prepare students for life outside of school. When you enter his classroom, you discover a flurry of activity. Jack deployed Office 365 on all the school’s workstations. “It’s the best that’s out there. If you find something better, let me know.”

Students manage their calendars and access email through Outlook. They use OneNote to take notes and access them across multiple devices. Jack is a big advocate for the use of Office 365 built-in accessibility checker to make content more inclusive, saying,

“It’s just something that it makes sense to click on. It takes a second, and a lot of times for most recommendations that the tool produces, it’s like a five-second fix.”

If students want to know how to perform a task in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, they use Office 365’s Tell Me feature and ask how it’s done. The answers are quickly provided. For Jack, these accessible technologies are a game changer for him and his students.

“I can now open up Excel or PowerPoint or Word and I can produce content that someone across the world would look at and never know a blind person had a role in that production. It be just as appealing, just as in-depth as anything else someone with no disabilities could have produced.”

Jack says that students want to come to the school for technology classes because they see how productive you can be if you have good training and understand how the tools work.

“My hope for all of my students is that they’re able to use technology to make their lives better. Many of them go on to college. A lot of them start working. Some of them already have careers and they’re using this time to enhance their ability to be more independent at their current job.”

In addition to working with students, Jack shows companies the ways that accessible technologies can enable them to expand their workforce and employ more people with disabilities, like blindness. During a recent demonstration he did for some local bankers generating a visual presentation on a computer without a screen, he opened up Office and started producing a document.

“I wrote some things, I changed some fonts, I saved the document all using the keyboard, all without a screen.”

Since that demonstration, some of his students have earned employment with those same bankers. Jack serves as an example of how to personalize and maximize the use of technology. He says he was always curious as a child. When he got in touch with computers, he realized this meant even more stuff to explore. During a routine visit to his dentist at age 15, Jack overheard staff talking about a problem with the computer. When he told the dentist he could fix it, the dentist hesitated before he gave him a chance. Jack repaired the computer and earned $500. The dentist then recommended him for other jobs, and that was the birth of his career in IT.

Jack’s hopes that accessible technologies become a given in the future, which he believes will make life and business better for everyone.

“When I’m able to help a business understand that when you make a hiring decision with someone who’s had good training that they’re going to help the entire company,” he said.

As for teaching? “It’s about helping a student understand what’s possible.”

Learn more about Microsoft’s comprehensive accessibility strategy by reading the factsheet.

A photo of Hilda Laura Vazquez Villanueva

“I consider that these kinds of projects provide direct benefits to the persons with disabilities but they are also an example to other private companies, governments, and institutions that should involve us all and generate inclusive programs.”

My name is Hilda Laura Vazquez Villanueva. I have a visual disability. I was born blind. I am currently 45 years old and I am married. I live with my husband who is also blind. I recently had some health problems and I now also have some motor limitations.

I went to school and with the support of the Braille system I was able to finish high school and continue my education. I have a BA in social work from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a Masters in business administration. I had the opportunity to work in the public sector as well as in different NGO´s.

The use of technologies in my education and professional context started in the nineties but at the beginning the devices and the tools were very expensive not many people with disabilities had access to them, its use was occasional and selective. In Mexico this has evolved and the use of technology has become indispensable and more accessible. Nowadays the promotion and usage of ICT´s is a breakthrough for the persons who live like me with a disability so that we can take advantage of our abilities, increase our knowledge and perform our professional activities.

In Mexico, approximately in the year 2000, the use of ICT´s for persons with visual disability was promoted through different projects. Different alternatives of screen readers and screen magnifiers were presented and since then we started to use them. Nevertheless as we started to navigate the web, we discovered new barriers to access information, as the sites are not accessible. There were no laws to support the creation of accessible content and programmers and designers did not have the knowledge of web accessibility, they did not understand its economic and social impact.

In 2014, there was an important change as different laws were approved to implement web accessibility criteria. This task has not been easy as web accessibility is a new culture and we need to take into consideration both the persons with disabilities as users who are capable of using a computer and access information as well as the programmers and designers who need to understand our needs.

I am against projects specifically targeted for persons with disabilities but I have been working with HearColors and its Web Accessibility Lab since it started and I believe it is a great project that has been able to join organizations that work with persons with disabilities, private companies, government institutions as well as programmers and designers to promote a new web accessibility culture that can benefit us all. I have been particularly involved in doing user testing of the accessible sites and the accessible content that HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab produces. I am particularly pleased to participate in a project that detonates the active participation of the persons with disabilities as final users.

In my capacity of representative of persons with disabilities, I have also been able to spread the work of HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab, helping NGO´s get web accessibility benefits. We launched a call for applications so that HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab could donate accessible web sites to NGO´s that work with persons with disabilities.

I consider that these kinds of projects provide direct benefits to the persons with disabilities but they are also an example to other private companies, governments, and institutions that should involve us all and generate inclusive programs. I am currently collaborating with HearColors as a tester of their sites, as a facilitator in their capacity building workshops and as an active final user of accessible content. I will continue to actively work so that web accessibility as a right for all is a general practice, a social commitment that will continue to break down barriers and to open opportunities for all.

Read more about how HearColors is working to improve web accessibility expertise by reading the factsheet.