Giulio using the tactile path.

“A vocal-tactile paving system for the independence of visually impaired people.”

My name is Giulio Nardone, and I am blind. As the National President of the Italian Association of Visually Impaired People, the goal of my last 40 years’ activity has been to increase the autonomy of visually impaired people in all circumstances of their lives.

As a blind person, I soon learned to move on my own, recognizing obstacles through my white cane. The real problem, however, has always been to move around in wide-open areas without natural guides. In 2013, in cooperation with the company JKJ srl, we added to every tactile tile a Radio Frequency Tag (created by myself back in 1995) that can send vocal messages to my smartphone and headphones using a special white cane.

Using this new version of tactile paving, called LVE System (Loges-Vet-Evolution), it is much easier for me to follow a path, to know the exact point where I am, the name of streets, the location of the several services on my route, and even the hours of operation. Before LVE, all this was impossible. This now allows me to be totally independent, as I do not need anyone to escort me in order to move freely within the city. Once the system spreads to stations, airports, hospitals, and public spaces, the problems of orientation and security of visually impaired people will be progressively solved.

Read more about how JKJ Srl and Associazione Disabili Visivi Onlus help persons with visual impairments to navigate safelyby reading the factsheet. 

Zero Project Logo

“I have memorized my evacuation map, and my neighbours better understand my needs and whereabouts.”

My name is Rosmawati, aged 45, and I am blind. As a woman who lives at home, I used to be a victim of any natural disaster that came upon us. Also, being on my own, when I was out of the house I would run into anything in front of me, such as walls and trees, and I would even fall into a trench and end up in the hospital. Therefore, in times of a disaster I would usually just stay in front of the house waiting to be evacuated by volunteers. But most people are busy evacuating their own family before they can think of helping us persons with disabilities.

After attending the workshop held by FKM BKA, however, I now have more knowledge about how to evacuate myself in times of emergency. I have memorized my evacuation map, which way I should run, and how I can save myself in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. But more than that, now my neighbours have begun to understand my needs and whereabouts in the village, so that in case of disaster I will not be left alone.

Interestingly, I was also informed by the government that if I must go to a refugee camp, I will receive special needs support. So now I can be a little more calm – ready and resilient to face disaster.

Find out more about how FKM BKA created inclusive evacuation strategies by reading the factsheet.

Zero Project Logo

“Now I am managing my own automobile repair agency.”

My name is Shashika Chathuranga. I am 33 and married. I was very keen on becoming an automobile mechanic and had an opportunity to engage with a well reputed automobile repair agency in Buttala. One day, however, I got a headache and fell down, and it turned out that I was partly paralyzed for a while. After having received therapy, however, I am now capable of walking and of working with my right hand. However, this situation resulted in my unemployment, which was a very hard experience since I had a family to take care of.

Even though I could still use my skills in automobile repairing, agencies were reluctant to hire me because of my disability. I decided, therefore, to open my own repair agency at home – with the great assistance of my wife. The one problem was that I needed funds to buy tools, and that is where the Disability Inclusive Programme of the Uva Provincial Council came to my assistance. Now I am managing my own agency, and I am planning to extend my services further to the Okkampitiya city area as well.

When I became paralyzed, I thought it was all over for me and nothing was possible. Now I want to emphasize that nothing is impossible!

Read more about how the Uva Provincial Council is improving universal inclusion in Moneragala by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Joaqium José Chicava.

“I want to be my own boss and not depend on others.”

My name is Joaquim José Chicava and I am 30 years old. I have a hearing impairment and I live alone. I started a course in civil metalworking in July 2016 and I graduated in December after six months of training. I was then invited to work as a paid intern in Young Africa’s Department of Metalwork for three months. At the end of my internship the head of Young Africa’s carpentry department contracted me to produce metal structures for furniture, such as school desks and chairs. Following this, I was contracted again by the head of the department to build porches for a church and for several homes.

The money I earn from this work allows me to buy food, clothing, and to build my own home. It also allows me to help my maternal aunt and my grandmother. I am currently working on the production of the metal structures for 30 chairs suitable for wheelchair users.

With the work I am doing at the moment I am perfecting the skills and knowledge I acquired during my time at the Young Africa training centre. Now that I have these skills, my dream is to open my own business to provide services in the field of welding, such as the production of metal gates, ovens, windows, sheds, and other structures.

Read more about the reasons why Young Africa started their project of making training centres accessible by reading the factsheet.

A picture of a young girl with physical disabilities using the playground.

“I really feel that Friendship Park was the breakthrough for inclusion for Avital.”

My name is Ilana Grunberg and I am the proud mother of seven-year-old twins Avital and Ayelet and their sister Maya, who is ten.
Avital is very bright and tri-lingual (English, Hebrew, and Dutch), and in her free time she loves to paint, bake, and play with her friends at Friendship Park in the main city park in Ra’anana. She is known for her gorgeous smile, which captures everyone’s heart. Avital also has cerebral palsy and uses a walker and a wheelchair. She attends second grade at a normal primary school and goes to Beit Issie Shapiro daily for therapeutic treatment and afternoon activities, where she meets with other children with cerebral palsy. When Avital was in kindergarten she participated in one of Friendship Park’s social and educational inclusion programmes. Together with her typically developing peers, she learned about different types of disabilities and how to make the environment accessible to children and adults with diverse disabilities. Avital participates in all the social community events that take place at Friendship Park, and what her experiences at the Park have taught her is that trying again, speaking to everyone, believing in the good in people, and believing in herself builds a community that is inclusive of everyone.
I really feel that Friendship Park was the breakthrough for inclusion for Avital. Through this community project we learned that we have many friends who join us in making our city a place for everyone.

Read more about how Beit Issie Shapiro has developed the country’s first accessible and inclusive playground by reading the factsheet.

A group picture at a music festival.

“I can still enjoy my passion for live Heavy Metal.”

My name is Christina and I am 45 years young. I live in a small village close to Hamburg in northern Germany. Since 2008 I have been restricted to a wheelchair, which has changed the way I live my life. Or that is what I thought until I met a group of volunteers who have given me back my mobility to go almost anywhere and to enjoy the freedom of festivals and concerts!

They are called “Inklusion muss laut sein!” Thanks to them I can still enjoy my passion for live Heavy Metal! Attending the Wacken Festival is no longer a problem for me in a wheelchair. For “Inklusion muss laut sein!” it doesn’t matter if it is raining and the ground is so wet that you are up to your knees in mud. The volunteers carry me in my wheelchair through the worst conditions to get me to the performances. They are the best group of people you could ever have helping you.

This year I was at a live gig that was on an old ship with no accessibility measures. Normally, it would not have been possible for a wheelchair user to attend, but as usual the volunteers from “Inklusion muss laut sein!” carried me onto the ship.

I get the help I need with even the smallest of things, like getting food or going to the toilet – the team is always there to help me. I can´t thank them enough. Without you, life would be only half so good.

Read more about how “Inklusion muss laut sein” has provided a buddy service for persons with disabilities to enjoy music festivals by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Harker with his daughter.

“I began to see that my daughter could thrive in school and in life.”

My name is Travis Harker and I am the father of a girl with dyslexia, a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for her to read. She first began noticing in kindergarten that her peers could read better than she could, yet she continued to love learning. But over the next few years, despite working very hard, she lost confidence and began to resent school. My heart broke when she came home one day in tears and asked, “Why is everyone in my class smarter than me?”

I felt lost and helpless. I was losing the vibrant, inquisitive, intelligent daughter that I knew. I was worried about her future and felt like a failure as a parent. I felt powerless to help her – until I found

Understood provided information that helped me navigate the school system. With Understood’s resources, I learned how to advocate for my daughter and how to partner with her school to get her the support she needed. Back then, I felt so alone. I blamed myself and was afraid to talk with my friends and co-workers about her challenges. But through Understood, I found a community of families just like mine. It was comforting to know that there were other parents with similar experiences and to hear that their kids were able to succeed.

Most importantly, Understood gave me hope. I began to see that we’d be OK – that my daughter could thrive in school and in life. Today, my daughter loves school and learning. She is once again the curious, fun-loving girl I’ve always known.

Read more about how has created a free comprehensive website resource for parents of children aged 3–20+ with learning and attention issues by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Simon van Steyn.

“We are able to reach a much broader audience and connect all people.”

My name is Simon van Steyn and I work as a New Media Producer in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which supports people-to-people conversations with foreign populations on U.S. policy priorities. To carry out this mission we leverage digital communications technology to reach across platforms – from traditional forms of communications to new media channels. We regularly utilize the services of the Department’s Video Captioning Program, which we feel is integral to ensuring these conversations reach individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing around the world.

While the Video Captioning Program team provides captions for all of our events, of which there are many, I would like to highlight one example that I feel is particularly relevant and illustrative of the important support they provide. In April of 2017 we hosted a live event that featured disability rights advocates and educators speaking with participants located throughout the Western hemisphere about the importance of law and education in protecting disability rights. Over 300 individuals from various embassies and non-governmental organizations participated. The event was entirely in Spanish and live captioned by the Video Captioning Program, which is managed by the Department’s Office of Accessibility & Accommodations, Bureau of Human Resources.

Ensuring equal access to information has been at the forefront of our communication and outreach strategy. The Department’s Video Captioning Program has made the process of captioning videos and live events easier for us – saving time and money, while ensuring our products are inclusive. We are able to reach a much broader audience and connect all people with policy through dialogue that is relatable, understandable, and accessible.

Read more about how the U.S. Department of State produces captioned videos for the embassies by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Tony Murray accessing the elevator.

“Using a building without even having to consider accessibility challenges.”

Being 100 per cent blind, when I went to work at my old building I encountered challenges associated with a lack of uniformity throughout the office’s floor-to-floor layout, the limited number of accessibility affordances that were available, and the various facilities that has not been designed with usability for all in mind. The bank’s new building at North Wall Quay, however, has removed all of these barriers to accessibility and usability. I enjoy the freedom to confidently navigate to any location in the building, as it has uniform floor plans as well as tactile navigation/orientation surfaces.

The building includes accessibility features that seamlessly integrate with the common infrastructure, such as smart lifts, accessible doors, and a completely usable cashless system. An open and non-cluttered environment extends to all areas of the building, including the food service and conference/meeting areas. This enables me to access all of the building’s facilities without having even to consider accessibility or usability challenges. To me, this is the greatest gauge of an environment’s success in terms of inclusive design.

Read more about how The Central Bank of Ireland has built a national central bank on Universal Design principles by reading the factsheet.

Bernardita Santa Cruz

“I could again move in my own house, and I will apply it to other spaces in the future.”

I am Bernardita Santa Cruz, a 26-year-old designer and founder of the shoe brand Mibe. I am also a painter and ceramist who has a busy life among my friends and family. In October 2016 I had an accident, and as a consequence I have become paraplegic. At that point I had to begin to know my body in this new condition; and in spite of the pain, I have been learning again to move, sit, dress, and drive. I work every day to overcome my physical limitations. However, I have often discovered that the barriers I face are not caused by my physical problems, but that instead they are caused by my environment.

The first barriers I encountered were inside my own house: I could not move from one place to another because there was unevenness in the interior (between corridors and living areas) and impediments in the exterior (e.g., accesses and terraces). Further, my bedroom and bathroom were incompatible with use by a person in a wheelchair. Even before I returned to my home after the accident, my parents realized that they had to make changes so that I could be as autonomous as possible. To that end, the assistance of Corporation Ciudad Accesible has been vital. The renovation of our home was based on its accessibility guides and manuals, which provided us with specific measurements, support materials, distribution ideas, etc. And these materials will also allow me to prepare other spaces wherever I move in the future.

Read more on how Corporacion Ciudad Accesible (CCA) provided accessibility guides to promote universal accessibility by reading the factsheet.