From accessible buildings to alternative testing methods – where are we now?

  • Data on vocational Training

    Matei Ghigiu, 3DecembrieALTfel, states that there is no official data in Romania available on vocational training.

  • Available data on public buildings

    Meera Shenoy, from India on available data on public buildings including schools and universities that that comply with the ISO 21542:2011 standards on accessibility and usability of the built environment.

  • Alternative testing methods

    Christina Ryan talking about the situation in regards to alternative testing methods in Australia.

  • Accessible learning materials

    Dan Pescod from RNIB on the availability of accessible study materials for persons with disabilities in the United Kingdom.


The Zero Project Social Indicators cover the whole range of the UN CRPD, with a special coverage of the annual topic of the Zero Project – education in 2016. Find some outstanding results regarding accessibility of buildings, alternative testing methods, data on vocational training and accessible study materials – and how you can use all the data for your individual research

No data on accessibility of buildings, 78 percent claim

78 percent reported that there is no data available on the accessibility of public buildings (including school buildings) despite the international standard ISO 21542-2011. Among the countries that have managed to have data available is India, where data on government buildings are earmarked to become accessible by 2016 in major cities in the country.

No data on vocational training existing, 74 percent say

The availability of data in regard to vocational and educational training at mainstream institutions appear to be limited. As 74 percent of respondents say that in their country there is no data on students with disabilities. Reasons for this are that the data available is often only for internal use and not for external stakeholders.

54 percent say, that alternative testing methods exist

54 percent stated that there are alternative testing methods for students with disabilities. In some countries students with special needs receive additional time to complete their exams (Armenia, Australia, Togo) while assistive devices are not so common due to the fact that professors doubt the quality of the test when these are being used.

Only 9 percent state that accessible learning materials are available

In many countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Guatemala, Pakistan, South Africa, United Kingdom) accessible learning materials are connected to an extra cost for families of persons with disabilities. Another problem is outdated material or only limited choice. Due to these facts only 9 percent state that accessible study materials exist for free for all persons with disabilities.


See all Social Indicators at:


Employers with outstanding employment practices – it is your turn!

Employment in the open labour market is of critical importance for persons with disabilities for living independently. Data shows that this is far from reality in most countries of the world, employment rates even decrease in some countries, especially in those that are in economic crises.

Still there are excellent practices of employers and employment strategies out there. Strategies where abilities and not disabilities are in focus. Others were diversity and service for customers with disabilities support the business case, or where there is evidence that the inclusion of employers with disabilities improves identification and motivation of all staff members. Or models – especially important in low income countries or rural areas – where self-employment is supported, or home-based work is organized.

The Zero Project has already identified several outstanding employment models in the past. For example:

Arunim, founded in 2008 in India, is a path breaking initiative, dedicated to create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Its activities range from policy level interventions to providing information, offering training in product design, introducing technology-based solutions and marketing opportunities to all its members. For more information see:

Discovering hands from Germany uses the superior tactile perception of blind and visually impaired persons to improve palpatory diagnosis in the early detection of breast cancer. For more information see:

Gragger Bakery and Caritas:A bakery in Upper Austria and Caritas have organized Backma`s, a project that provides vocational on-the-job training for adolescents with disabilities. Under the supervision of mentors, the apprentices acquire practical skills in the production of pastries in a full-fledged working bakery in Linz so that they are then able to find employment in the open labour market. For more information see:

Specialisterne from Denmakris internationally recognised as the first and foremost example of how highly functioning people with autism can become effectively integrated in society and provide valuable, high quality services to their employers.For more information see:

Wipro,one of indian biggest IT corporations, has committed itself to an employment strategy that ensures that inclusion becomes an integral part of culture and working. Wipro’s hiring policy for persons with disabilities is merit-based across all roles and not just in “identified jobs”, support functions or non-core function . For more information see:

So, if you are an employer who has also established an inclusive and accessible work space, from Small- and Medium Sized Enterprise to worldwide leading corporations – please come forward with your nomination! Here:



Creating the missing link to the labour market

5 Innovative Practices that directly connect training with jobs and employers

„Traning on the job“ is one of the most promising strategy for integrating young learners with disabilities in the open labour market. Potential employers are included from the very beginning in the planning process, and the selection of students as well as traning methods and content are all targeted towards these employers. Various Innovative Practices of the Zero Project use that approach successfully, but differ completely when having a closer look at them.

Read more on training and employment models from

Vocational Education and Training is a crucial interface between schools and the open labour market, for every trainee, but especially for those with disabilities. But it is a challening task to create and maintain these links. Projects often fail when only focusing on the training part and neglecting the needs of potential employers. On the other hand, projects fail as well when they only focus on finding „any job“ and neglect the assessment and qualification part.

In this article, several of the Innovative Practices of the Zero Project 2016 are described that create an excellent start into the open labour market.

Creating real jobs in bakeries

A bakery in Upper Austria and and the non-profit organization Caritas have organized Backma’s, a project that provides vocational on-the-job training for adolescents with disabilities. Under the supervision of mentors, the apprentices acquire practical skills in the production of pastries in a full-fledged working bakery in Linz so that they are then able to find employment in the open labour market.

25 apprenticeship places in total have been provided until the end of 2015, and most of them found a job right after finishing the training.

Because of the success of the project, there is a plan to transfer the concept internationally. Furthermore, the Linz bakery has designed a special energy-efficient oven that operates without electricity and gas, which thus meets the needs of countries (especially low income countries) with high energy costs. Construction on a bakery in Senegal, for example, started in September 2015.


Simulating a supermarket

At the Supermarket” is a simulated supermarket managed by young people with disabilities where they learn accounting, to speak foreign languages, and to draft a code of conduct. The project also includes guided visits to actual supermarkets and an internship. A second project, “Special Masterchef,” has been implemented with the collaboration of a local restaurant, whereby students with disabilities interact with nondisabled students in a working environment. Here, students with disabilities learn how to cook, serve, and prepare tables.

Jobs in kindergartens and elder care

People with learning difficulties use their IT knowledge to train senior citizens living in their neighbourhood. The concept has been developed by people with learning difficulties themselves and is implemented in the PIKSL laboratories in Düsseldorf. At the beginning of the eight-week courses (morning and afternoon sessions, participants pay a reasonable fee) for eight participants (two per teacher), the course content is jointly developed. Assistants of the PIKSL laboratories prepare the training sessions each day. The IT courses are action orientated with daily life examples.

In 2014 and 2015, 96 regular workplaces have been staffed with trainees.

Writing easy-to-read newspaper articles

Since official websites should be accessible for everyone, there is an enormous need for easy-to-read information. The mission of the project is to teach people with disabilities to write easy-to-read news articles. Participants with learning difficulties are trained to understand the journalistic approach to information. The goals are to prepare participants for regular jobs, especially as experts for easy-to-read texts and eventually to provide easy-to-read news on a daily basis for the online-platform of the KURIER, an Austrian daily paper.

Participants, all of whom are people with special needs, are trained to understand the journalistic approach to conveying information. They learn to write their own stories and to rewrite other texts in easyto-read language. Additionally, they learn to handle ICT and to publish on the web.

Working as IT trainers

The project Konekt Let´s Co! organizes practical trainings for adults with intellectual disabilities so they can access the open labor market. Longtime traineeships at regular working places like kindergartens and in elderly care are offered to persons with intellectual disability, so they can take responsibility and support their own community.


#ZeroCon16: More Than 500 Participants, 35 Sessions, Uncountable Encounters

The fifth Zero Project Conference on “Inclusive Education and ICT” has proven to be a huge success. More than 500 participants from 70 countries attended the official opening ceremony on Thursday, 11th February, in the United Nations Office in Vienna in person, many more via the accessible online livestream. In her keynote, Judy Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights to the US State Department under President Barack Obama, highlighted the importance of offering inclusive education for children and adults with disabilities – especially in poor and middle income countries, where a very large percentages of children with disabilities are not even in school.

Judy Heumann: “Our stories are powerful. Our fight for equality is just and it is our responsibility to make it happen.”

Zero Project Award: 98 Innovative Practices and Policies in 2016

©Pepo Schuster,

©Pepo Schuster,

During the traditional Zero Project Award ceremony on Wednesday, 10th February, 86 innovative practices and 12 innovative policies from more than 40 countries were distinguished for their positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

German actor Samuel Koch, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a live-broadcast accident on a popular German TV show, shared some of his experiences in a very personal address to the participants. Even though equal rights are an important issue, he concluded “nobody has an advantage if we just demand and enforce the law without changing the hearts of people.”

A New Zero Project Highlight: Technology Show

©Pepo Schuster,

©Pepo Schuster,

Being held for the first time at the Zero Project Conference, the Technology Show was a much anticipated highlight closing the first day. Exemplary projects like a mouth controlled 4D-Joystick, a speech visualizer, a system to control computers with the eyes only, hearing implants and a mouth controlled computer mouse let alone a computer animated avatar that translates videos to sign language were presented in an entertaining live show.

Read our full conference retrospective here.


Zero Project Publishes Annual Report 2016 on Inclusive Education and ICT

The Zero Project doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel, instead what it does is find solutions that have been proven to work, all over the world and adapt them to the specific situations of people with disabilities. To provide the necessary data, a four-year research cycle was established to measure the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) coupled with an annually changing theme: Employment, Accessibility, Independent Living and Education. In 2016 the focus was on inclusive education and information and communication technology (ICT).

Harnessing its unique network, the Zero Project Report looks at three fields: 1) Social Indicators, 2) Innovative Practices and 3) Innovative Policies. What is more, the 2016 report features life stories of people with disabilities who directly benefitted from Innovative Practices or who worked closely with them.

The Zero Project Report 2016 on “Inclusive Education and ICT” is available at:

Zero Project Report 2016 Barrier Free

Social Indicators: Data on Accessibility and Students with Disabilities is Missing Most

For its annual report 2016, the Zero Project team used a questionnaire to research a total of 30 social indicators, covering both the UNCRPD in general and the particular focus topic education. 275 experts from 129 countries rated each indicator according to a traffic light system and commented on specific aspects where necessary.

78 percent reported that there is no data available on the accessibility of public buildings (including school buildings) despite the international standard ISO 21542-2011, while 45 percent say that there is a timeframe for newly constructed public buildings to become accessible.

74 percent of respondents say that in their country there is no data on students with disabilities in vocational and educational training. 52 percent report that there is a responsible government agency, the Ministry of Education, for Inclusive Education.

See all Social Indicators at:

Innovative Practices: Lessons for Education and ICT

In June and July 2015 the research team reached out to its network of more than 3,000 people from nearly every country of the world to nominate innovative solutions for persons with disabilities. Together with its approximately 150 partners, the Zero Project team nominated 86 Innovative Practices from 43 countries that positively impact the rights of persons with disabilities for Inclusive Education.

These practices cover inclusive primary and secondary schools, vocational and educational training and universities as well as early childhood interventions and emergency and disaster situations. On the technological side, the focus is on accessible web solutions, hardware devices and software.

Find all 86 Innovative Practices 2016 at:

Innovative Policies: Tools for Social Change

Like practical solutions that can be adapted and used in different contexts, policies are a key field for innovation transfer. This year the Zero Project received numerous policy nominations from around the world. 22 were researched in depth by the World Future Council with its Future Just Lawmaking Methodology. After having verified the nominations and clarified open questions with the help of experts from government, academia, and/or disabled persons organizations, the Zero Project expert network selected 12 policies that measurably advance the right of persons with disabilities to be included in education and/or to access ICT.

Innovative Policies 2016 are implemented at all levels of government, from the regional/provincial to the national up to the international level and cover all levels of education.

Find all 12 Innovative Policies 2016 at: