A picture of Christian and his 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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

Fatima Maghzaz

“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”.

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

“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.

Zoe Hartman standing and smiling, with a white cane in hand standing against a building covered in graffiti

“I can purchase and pay again, read my mail, and use the subway by myself.”

My name is Zoe Hartman, age 25, and I live in Brooklyn. Previously, I was a production assistant in the film industry and hoped to become an assistant director. When I was 22, however, I suddenly lost much of my vision, and it decreased further over the following few months. After a year of tests and misdiagnoses, a biopsy revealed that brain inflammation, from an unknown cause, had damaged my optic nerves.

I learned to use a cane to get around and magnifiers to help me read, but I frequently had to rely on others for assistance – someone who could read small print, for example. Thanks to OrCam MyEye, however, I’ve gone from relying on others to doing things for myself. The OrCam MyEye helps me pay for purchases without relying on someone else to count my money. It also helps me read signs so I can travel on my own. Since having OrCam, I have shopped for groceries, read my mail, and used the subway by myself. I have even gone back to work. I worked on a couple of television shows and have used my OrCam MyEye to read documents and fill out paperwork more quickly – an asset in the fast-paced film industry. I also recently became a reservationist at a restaurant, which I could not have done without OrCam MyEye.

OrCam also helped me return to activities I love. It helps me read menus when out with friends or family and small print on food labels or museum signs. Now that I can read a script, I’m even considering returning to theatre work, a favourite hobby.


Read more about OrCam MyEye by reading the factsheet. OrCam MyEye will be presenting at day 1 of the Zero Project Conference 2018 in the session “Orientation systems for the blind”.


Hanufa holding Mim, alongside her partner.

“Mim can now walk and is trying to speak”

My name is Hanufa, mother of three-year-old Mim. I once had a piece of land with a beautiful house, but everything was swept away by the flooding river. Now I live in a tiny rented house with three children, which is a miserable life.

My daughter Mim has been affected by cerebral palsy since birth. I could not take her to hospital or to a physician for treatment due to lack of money. Before the intervention of the CSF, Mim could not walk, could not speak, and had no hope. But after three months of intervention, she can now walk and is already trying to speak! I believe she will walk normally, speak properly, and will go to school after a couple of more months.

I am very happy to see my child’s development. I am going to Shishu Shorgo (“Children Heaven”) five days a week and they are providing therapeutic services, training for parents on how to manage children with disabilities at home, cleaning and hygiene practices, and orientation on social communication. CSF is the only organization providing services in this rural area. We are blessed that my child is getting these services, but there are lot of children who are not getting any kind of service in other areas.


Find out more about the support CSF are giving for children with disabilities in rural Bangladesh by reading the factsheet.  CSF will be presenting at day 2 of the Zero Project Conference 2018 in the session “Access to Health”.

Mirsad Đulbić with the Mayor of Zenica

“The museum has removed all barriers for us, and has let us enjoy culture in our everyday lives.”

My name is Mirsad Đulbić, and I am retiree, local historian, and culture lover from Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Average in everything, not special in anything. I do not think I know anything special about Zenica – there are a hundred people who know more than I do – but I like to share my knowledge with others. I used to do it through daily and weekly newspapers.
Not so long ago, I wasn’t able to get into many institutions and move within the city without difficulty. And I and my friends love socializing, sports, and cultural programmes. Thankfully, however, there is the Zenica City Museum. The building of this museum is fully accessible and provides all the necessary amenities. Accessibility is such that no companion assistance is required. I often go there with my friends and our spouses. The museum has removed all barriers for us, and has let us enjoy culture in our everyday lives.
The photograph shows me with the former Mayor of Zenica, who is presenting me with a thank-you card for my assistance in the preparation of a museum exhibition during the opening ceremony.

Read more about how the Balkan Museum Access Group is improving accessibility across museums in the region by reading the factsheet.

“Now we are hosting career fairs, putting our work on display”

I am Atugonza Milton Isaac. When I started school I was the only one with a disability. All the other boys called me by hurtful nicknames, but in my heart I felt, “If others can do it, why not me? Why not a person with a disability?” When the Connecting the Dots project of Sightsavers came to my village I was doing some agricultural work. I heard the news on the radio announcing that the programme was looking for young people with disabilities to take them
for training. I had previously had an introduction on how to use a computer, so I said to myself, “Let me study computers, because in the next generation everything will be computerised.”
Now my job is to go into the field and monitor the young students in the Sightsavers programme: “How’s the work environment? How are you getting along?” I even go to visit students in their homes to see whether their parents are supporting them or not. I then report back to the office – this one is doing well, this one has a challenge. My mission is to empower youth with disabilities to acquire a sense of self-worth, to see that they too can earn a living, and to lobby for them to know their rights and benefits. I also help them benefit from government programmes, like special grants.

I have seen youth with disabilities doing great, great things. Now we are hosting career fairs, putting our work on display. Now everyone knows that disability is not inability!

Read more about Sightsavers ‘Connect the Dots’ project.