An empty row of chairs in a conference room, with the Zero Project logo on a poster in the background

The Zero Project Conference has somehow snuck up on us again! It feels like is was just a couple of months ago that we were singing the Zero Project anthem and handing over certificates in a cold and snowy Vienna!

Well, we’re about to do it all again. At least the weather forecast looks better this year!

The Zero Project Conference 2019 will begin next Wednesday (20th February), when over 600 people will descend on the United Nations in Vienna to discuss Independent Living and Political Participation for persons with disabilities.

So far we’re on track for a record-breaking number of countries to be represented, with participants from an incredible 84 nations already registered!

As always, you can tune in online by watching the live feed on the Zero Project website and Facebook page, which includes international sign and captioning.

Make sure to follow us on social media for photos and clips from the conference, and join in the conversation by using the hashtag #ZeroCon19.

You can find a list of speakers and the full agenda on our Conference page.


Various pages with writing too small showing writing, tables, pictures and maps, with the cover of the Zero Project Report 2019 at the centre

We are proud to introduce to you the Zero Project Report 2019!

After more than 9 months of research, analysis and reporting, we are delighted to bring you our latest annual report, on this year’s topic Independent Living and political Participation.

Inside this report you will find fact sheets of the 66 Innovative Practices, and Innovative Policies from 41 countries that support independent living or participation in politics for persons with disabilities, along with personalised life stories from many of the projects. The report also introduces 11 new participants of the Zero Project Impact Transfer, in association with Ashoka, where projects are prepared for replication around the world, plus the TOPHOUSE project which shares projects for inclusive person-centres housing in Europe.

The report also includes for the first time a summary in easy language.

All the themes, topics and projects within this report will be discussed during the Zero Project Conference from 20th to 22nd February 2019 at the United Nations in Vienna. You can watch the action from the Conference on the Zero Project website or the Zero Project Facebook page.


A panel of four experts sat behind a podium with microphones in front

In just two weeks we will already be at the United Nations and getting inspired by the wise words of presenters from all around the world. We already have experts from over 80 countries registered, which is a record for the Zero Project Conference! We cannot wait to welcome you we’re so grateful for everyone that is making the journey to be part of this event.

Over the next two weeks a lot will happen and there is so much to get involved with, whether you are attending the Conference or not! We are pleased to give you some details of what to look out for and how to take part.

Attendees will be sent information directly for how to get to the venue, how to sign in and how to make the most of their time at the conference. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! However, there’s lots of extra useful information for those who cannot make it, or supplementary information for those attending.

Front Cover of the Zero Project Report. The Zero Project logo and writing "Imdependent Living and Political Participation on white background

Soon to be released: The Zero Project Report 2019

Zero Project Annual Report

A few days before the Conference we will release the Zero Project 2019 Report on the topic of Independent Living and Political Participation. The Report will feature the 76 awardees (66 practices and 10 policies) which help improve the lives of persons with disabilities in living more independently or taking part in their community and politics. The report will also feature an easy-language summary, and an analysis of promising inclusive social housing practices as part of the TOPHOUSE project. We will be checking in with our great group of Zero Project Impact Transfer participants from 2018, plus introducing 11 exciting new projects who are going through an intensive preparation for scaling and replicating their projects in new countries.

You will be able to download an accessible pdf of the report on the Zero Project website and physical copies will be handed out at the Conference

Screen shot of streaming at the Zero Project Conference. On the left "Spain APSA Tempe - "Forandfrom" stores Shoe-shops, barrier-free for all. on the right two men in suits shake hands in front of a Zero Project backdrop.

The live stream of #ZeroCon18

Live Stream

Once again, we will be streaming all three days of the Conference live on our Facebook page and on the Zero Project website. All the action from the main room will be presented live, including English captions and international sign. Browse the agenda to see which sessions you want to catch or tune in throughout the day to see what’s going on. Just some of the many highlights will be the Keynote speech by Jenny Lay-Flurrie of Microsoft on the morning of day 1, the award ceremony on the evening of day 2, and a special creative piece performed by young people who are supported by Lumos Foundation on the morning of day 3.

Twitter feed of #ZeroCon18 showing people posing for photos and posting positive comments about the Conference

Posting on the #ZeroCon18 hashtag

Social Media

As ever, we will be sharing, reacting and interacting on our social media channels throughout the Conference. Make sure to use the hashtag #ZeroCon19 so you can join the conversation, whether attending the Conference or watching from home.

Post-Conference media

When the curtain finally comes down on the final day of #ZeroCon19, the fun will not end there! Stay tuned to our social media channels across the following weeks as we upload highlight clips, photos and stories to help share anything you might have missed. We will also make each session available to watch again on our YouTube channel, including rooms 2 and 3 which will not be streamed live.

If you have any specific questions about any session or want to find out more, then please get in touch!

Three people talking in a light open hallway next to a large green Zero Project sign

Can you believe it? The Conference is less than a month away! In under 3 weeks, we’ll be welcoming over 600 participants from all around the world to the United Nations in Vienna. There’s so much to look forward to, not only for those who are attending, but for everyone else tuning in to our live stream. So what can we tell you?

Well, we are still making final arrangements, but we are excited to a host of new sessions, exhibits, speakers and features, most notably:

  • Easy-language additions – For the first time, we will have an easy-language summary of the report! We will also be trialling easy-language features in a number of sessions, including easy-language translation summaries and round-ups of discussions.
  • Screening of specially-selected short films – Our good friends at ReelAbilities Film Festival have helped source short films to be screened on the mornings of days one and two of the conference. They will also be joining us in the final session to share their expertise in discussing good practice in films and other media.
  • A creative performance by self-advocates – Lumos Foundation will be presenting a creative performance in the main room, led by self-advocates from Moldova.
  • An interactive accessible voting experience – Long-time friends and Zero Project Conference contributors Access Israel will be putting together a voting experience where attendees can try out some voting solutions currently on offer.

And there is still so much more we’re putting the final touches on that we’re desperate to share with you!

We look forward to so many of you joining us and we hope you enjoy this year’s event!

The European Disability Forum logo

Are you an employer offering inclusive employment for young persons with disabilities finding their way in the world of work?

Or are you maybe involved in an initiative assisting young persons with disabilities in finding employment that matches their talents?

Then the European Disability Forum would like to hear from you! You might be named EDF’s Youth Employer of 2019!!!

To apply, please fill the application form with information on the practice that you would like to present and send to by the 31st of January with the header ‘Good practices in employment for young persons with disabilities’.

Find out more information by visiting the European Disability Forum’s website.

Two men sitting at a desk, discussing.

Part 4 of our awardees blog brings you projects that work to influence policy, including self-representation, participation in politics and how to strengthen access to legal and human rights.

Self-representatives influencing policy-making

A group of 17 self-advocates proudly holding their certificate in a group photo
Proud participants of FEPAPDEM’s self-advocacy training

For meaningful and lasting change in policy, it is important for those that the policies affect are the same ones influencing it. FEPAPDEM in Ecuador runs a program which trains people to train persons with intellectual disabilities to become self-advocates and speak out about the issues that are important to them. Also in Ecuador, Fundación Discapacidad y Desarrollo works with local disabled people’s organisations to identify needs of residents with disabilities and address them through local regulations. And in the Pursat province of Cambodia, Light for the World trains representatives to advocate for inclusive policies in local commune and district meetings.

Participating in politics in low- and middle-income countries

A Blind man standing behind a cardboard voting booth
A Blind man taking part in a mock election in northern Malawi, through FEDOMA

Some of our 2019 awardees facilitate the conditions for people with disabilities to actively participate in politics in low and middle income countries. In Nepal, the Disability Empowerment and Communication Centre assists with inclusive voting and supports running for parliamentary elections. Similarly, the Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi is carrying out many methods to encourage voting and running for parliament, such as stakeholder engagement, lobbying and media coverage.

Strengthening access to legal and human rights

A group of people holding posters and placards during a demonstration on the street
NCPEDP bringing organisations together for sustained advocacy for disability legislation in India

A small group of winning projects are aiming to improve access to legal and human rights through targeting change in national legislation. Mobility International USA’s Global Disability RightsNow! program is targeting change in seven countries by providing local disabled persons organisations with free technical training and mentorship to improve their own in-country plans. In India, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People has conducted sustained and systematic advocacy to help push through a new national disability law, with funding from Mphasis. Finally, in British Columbia, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reducaiton has launched a 10-year strategy for improving the lives of people with disabilities, for example through simplified benefit applications and raising the benefit rate.

Martin Habacher

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our good friend and colleague, Martin Habacher. Martin brought so much enthusiasm and character to our social media over the more than five years that he worked with us. He was well known and liked and will was a familiar and friendly face to so many at the Zero Project Conferences. He will be greatly missed.

Mit großer Trauer geben wir den Tod unseres guten Freundes und Kollegen, Martin Habacher, bekannt. In den fünf Jahren, in denen er mit uns arbeitete, brachte Martin so viel Enthusiasmus und Persönlichkeit in unsere Welt der Sozialen Medien. Er war beliebt und bekannt und war auf den Zero Project Konferenzen ein vertrautes und freundliches Gesicht. Wir werden Dich vermissen!

Fedoma Logo from exclusion to inclusion

We are excited to hear that Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA), a Zero Project 2019 awardee, has been assigned by the Malawi Electoral Commission to coordinate nomination of all candidates with disabilities for upcoming local and national elections. It is expected that at least 4 people will run for Member of Parliament and 8 for Councilorship, drawn from a list of an initial 24 who had shown interest. Good luck to everyone involved! To find out more or to get involved read this article.

A man speaking to a semi-circle of volunteers holding white canes

Youth and volunteering

Two young men in a market carrying a cardboard box together with fruit and vegetables
Volunteers with disabilities helping the elderly carry bags for “Volunteering for a change”

So often, volunteering opportunities relating to disability are seen as volunteering to help persons with disabilities. However, innovations around the world are encouraging and supporting persons with disabilities to help others in need. Mexico-based Unidos Somos Iguales trains young people with and without disabilities to participate in social programmes as “allies”. Similarly “Volunteering for a Change”, a partnership between government and NGOs in Israel supports students /with disabilities to engage in meaningful volunteer work. Austria-based WeltWegWeiser has developed a framework for inclusive volunteer assignments in low-income countries. Finally, Empowerment Through Integration in Lebanon works to train young people with visual impairments through various measures to promote social inclusion.

The parallel session on Youth and Volunteering takes place on day 2 of the conference (21st February) at 10:45 in M3.

Improving the response of the criminal justice system to persons with disabilities

Persons with various disabilities may have unique problems when navigating the criminal justice system, which may be confusing and intimidating. Thankfully, there are projects around the world which support people in innovative ways.

An example card showing name, profile photo, and list of impairments following brain injury for example I have speech difficulties. Card includes a police logo and a phone number for criminal legal assistance.
Headway’s Brain Injury Identity Card

Headway, in the United Kingdom has created a nationally-recognised Brain Injury Identity Card which enables fair treatment when encountering the criminal justice system. In the United States the multidisciplinary response team from NCCJD’s Pathways to Justice programme aims to improve local criminal justice systems response to victims, witnesses, defendants, and prisoners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The parallel session on criminal justice system takes place on day 3 of the conference (22nd February) at 14:50 in M1.

Supporting people facing multiple disadvantages

People with and without disabilities in a large room holding up placards with disability slogans in portuguese
Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities through Escola de Gente’s APA programme

For many people, living with a disability can be just one of the challenges they face. In Canada, the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society supported over 1,700 people to access local or national services in 2017. Meanwhile, in Brazil, Escola de Gente’s Accessibility Promotion Agents programme works with young people with and without disabilities in favelas to identify and intervene when the rights of people with disabilities have been violated.

The parallel session on supporting people facing multiple disadvantages takes place on day 3 of the conference at 12:40 in M1.

YPSA logo

Professor Dr. Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, Vice-Chancellor of University of Chittagong, has inaugurated a modern technology-rich “Accessible E-learning Center” for the 150 visually impaired students studying at the University of Chittagong. A.K. Khan Foundation, a2i programme of Bangladesh Government and YPSA jointly established the Accessible E-learning Center which was formally inaugurated on January 7, 2019 at the university’s Central Library Auditorium.

Good friend of the Zero Project, Vashkar Bhattacharjee, while giving his introductory speech, said that this e-learning center is equipped with computers, all types of software and hardware tools (known as adaptive or assertive technologies), more than 200 Digital Talking Books, Accessible Dictionary, 300 booklets, 50 Braille books, and ICT training have been consistently provided to nearly 100 students.

Find out more by reading the press release on the Young Power in Social Action website.