The Zero Project 2016 conference happened. In Vienna, February 10th – 12th, the Zero Project 2016 Conference with over 500 persons had a flowing energy with networking at a high. Judy Heumann, one of the founders of the Independent Living movement in the United States (and the world!) was one of the key speakers. Judy made a point of the importance of personal stories as a way to advocate and have policy makers see the need of change. She complemented the Zero Project and their method of sharing good examples, as there is importance to share what is working to make good change.
Conference attendees heard presentations from the 2016 report on Inclusive Education. Many of the good examples were presented in person, allowing the examples and models to come alive. The report can be found on this link.
What does the Zero Project do? The team doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so they find solutions from around the world that have proven to work for the betterment of disabled people and spread them through their annual research. Data is gathered in a four-year research cycle to allow measurement of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Themes thus far have been Employment, Accessibility, Independent Living and Education. In 2016 the focus was on inclusive education and information and communication technology (ICT). The annual reports are then the focus of the annual world conference.
Three fields are considered in the Zero Project research: 1) Social Indicators, 2) Innovative Practices and 3) Innovative Policies. What made the 2016 report unique was the featuring of life stories of disabled people who directly benefitted from Innovative Practices or who worked closely with them.
One novelty for the conference of this year was the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals as a focus for the Zero Project work. Future research would not only permit the measurement of success of the UN CRPD, but also the SDGs.
ENIL had nominated several projects with one being brought forth as a good example. It was the project called ‘Paths to Employment’ carried out by the Swedish Agency for Participation. ENIL finds it important to work with national governments and was happy to have the Swedish project highlighted. This project was on technology and support for disabled students with the goal of completing education facilitating future employment.
It was carried out in 2010 – 2014 and was to respond to articles 24 and 27 of the UN CRPD. The Swedish Heritage Fund funded the project. ENIL will continue trying to highlight good examples at the national level.
Jamie Bolling, ENIL Executive Director