Zero Project: International think tank with Austrian roots identifies exemplary projects for persons with disabilities
A new international comparative study on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is published today. The Zero Project Report – Zero as in “zero barriers” – is the first of its kind and has been initiated by the Essl Foundation, which is based in Klosterneuburg, Austria. The core elements of the study are indicators on social inclusion of people with disabilities, together with, for the first time, Good Practices and Good Policies. Selected Good Policies will be presented and discussed with 200 international decision makers at the Zero Project Conference on 22 and 23 January, 2012 in Vienna, in cooperation with the World Future Council and UniCredit Bank Austria.
The current Zero Project Report is being published on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and looks at how well people with disabilities are included in society in different countries. After undertaking a pilot study in 2010 (the Essl Social Index), the Essl Foundation is, for the first time, publishing a comprehensive, internationally comparative, study on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The study was conducted in 36 countries. In total, more than 50 experts were involved and a broad network of more than 100 persons with disabilities, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, foundations, companies, scientists, politicians etc was established. It is envisaged that the Zero Project Report will be published annually.
The aim of the Zero Project is to establish itself as an internationally leading think tank on accessibility. The Zero Project is the second long-term project of the Essl Foundation, besides the annual Essl Social Prize.
Results of the study
In total, 36 countries were compared using 21 indicators on social inclusion. For Austria, the Zero Project Report indicates an urgent need for action in the field of statistics about persons with disabilities (e.g. in education, university graduates, employment and housing), legal entitlement to financial support for participation in social life, and accessibility (e.g. training of bus drivers and early warning systems for national emergencies). In the United Kingdom, this year’s study shows, many good solutions for these problems already exist, but the important “right to receive necessary support to vote in secret” is only partially guaranteed.
Overall, the problems tackled best are accessibility to new buildings, mainstream education, sign language in court and partial guardianship. The most work needs to be done on early warning systems for national emergencies, statistics on university graduates and the accessibility of public buses. The countries with the least satisfying results in this year’s Zero Project Report are Albania, Mexico and Romania.
Zero Project Conference: International “Summit” in Vienna
The International Conference on “Good Policies for Disabled People” takes place on 22 and 23 January 2012 in Vienna. It is organized in cooperation with the Hamburg-based World Future Council and its founder Jakob von Uexkull, and the UniCredit Bank Austria. A Scientific Advisory Board selected eight Good Policies, which will be presented and discussed with 200 international stakeholders in the field of disability policy. These policies include the Swedish Ombudsman policy that avoids guardianship, and, in Italy, the nearly complete abolition of segregated educational settings for children with disabilities. For the first time, parliamentarians, representatives of NGOs and foundations, scientists and disability rights activists will meet to discuss these exemplary laws and how to transfer them to other countries.
“We are very happy to have found the ideal partners for the Zero Project with the World Future Council and its founder Jakob von Uexkull, who also founded the Right Livelihood Award, known by many as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’”, states Martin Essl, CEO of bauMax AG and founder of the Essl Foundation.
“Being a company that takes its social responsibility seriously, we fully support the Zero Project and are happy to be able to make a contribution towards a barrier-free world ”, explains Willibald Cernko, Chairman of UniCredit Bank Austria AG.
Zero Project Website: Interactive Platform for Networking
The Zero Project Website www.zeroproject.org focuses on the Good Practices and Good Policies identified in the report. The site will be online in January 2012 and aims to be an interactive platform where people with disabilities, NGOs, politicians, scientists and social entrepreneurs can participate in various ways. A total of 27 selected examples of Good Practice constitute the core of the website, e.g. the project “discovering hands”, where blind women are trained in the early detection of breast cancer. Another showcase is the live transcription service offered by VerbaVoice, which makes it possible to subtitle talks live over the Internet.