The Zero Project and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Author: Thomas C. Weiss
Contact : Disabled World
Published: 2014-10-18 - (Updated: 2015-08-28)
The mission of the Zero Project is to work for A World Without Barriers in accordance with the principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Zero Project works towards this goal by researching Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies worldwide that help to improve the lives of people who experience forms of disabilities, as well as researching Social Indicators that measure the implementation of the U.N. CRPD and the current situation in every country around the world today.
The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in the year 2010 and is run in partnership with the World Future Council and the European Foundation Center.
The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. The Zero Project is run in partnership with the World Future Council since 2011 and with the European Foundation Center since 2013. It provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers.
Innovative Policies are one of the three areas of research conducted by the Zero Project, together with Social Indicators and Innovative Practices. The Zero Project's Innovative Policies are laws, standards, policies, strategies or programs, adopted by public authorities from all levels - from the local level, to the regional, up to the national level (local and regional councils, parliament, government, etc.).
So far, the Zero Project researched on employment in 2012/13, on accessibility in 2013/14 and most recently on independent living and political participation in 2014/15. It will be education in 2015/16.
With the Zero Project's aim to promote solution-oriented approaches, Innovative Practices and Policies are communicated to:
- The media
- E.U. bodies
- U.N. bodies
- Opinion leaders
- Decision makers
- Foundations and academics
- Government administrations
- National and regional parliaments
- Service providers and other NGO's
All of which can make a difference by learning about the most Innovative Practices and Policies and additional solution-oriented approaches.
Organization and the Zero Project
While the Zero Project is not a legal entity, it is an initiative led by a small core team of professionals from the Essl Foundation, the World Future Council and the European Foundation Center. The expertise at the Zero Project comes from a large network of all kinds of disability experts from around the world. Over the last 3 years, around 2,000 experts from more than 130 countries have contributed in various ways such as by evaluating ideas and projects, nominating outstanding projects, developing social indicators and more. There are many supporters of the Zero Project who do much more than that, such as providing knowledge, time, financial support and networks.
The Zero Project is constantly working to improve the quality of its research, widening its network and attempting to reach even more people directly in a way that can impact the lives of people living with forms of disabilities by, 'localizing,' the Zero Project and its expertise to individual countries or on a regional level, in partnership with local DPO's and additional partners. Guided by, 'Nothing About Us Without Us,' the Zero Project involves people with disabilities in every single aspect of the work it performs.
In the year 2013 the Zero Project, among others, was invited to present its work at a Side Event of the Human Rights Council of the U.N. in Geneva at the 6th Conference of State Parties to U.N. CRPD in New York. A number of presentations were also given by Zero Project team members in conferences in:
As well as other locations around the world.
Innovative Practices and Policies and Social Indicators Research 2014
Every year, the Zero Project chooses a topic on which all of its research is focused.
- In 2013 the topic was "International Study on the Implementation of the CRPD"
- In 2014 the topic was "Accessibility"
- In 2015 the topic is "Independent Living and Political Participation"
Following a similar procedure, 68 Innovative Policies from 34 countries were nominated. Among these, 25 policies were chosen by the Zero Project's Scientific Advisory Board which this year consisted of 28 renowned disability and accessibility experts from around the world. The 25 pre-selected policies were researched by the World Future Council. In the final step, 15 policies from Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, America and the Middle East were selected by the Scientific Advisory Board to be highlighted as Innovative Policies for this year's Zero Project Report. The Policies were presented at the Zero Project Conference.
The Zero Project Social Indicators consist of 20 questions on the general implementation of the U.N. CRPD (which the United States of America has yet to ratify...) and an additional 12 questions on the topic of accessibility. Currently, 164 disability experts from 130 countries have filled in the questionnaires, with a coverage of more than 80% of all the states that have ratified the U.N. CRPD. All the results for each individual question are visualized on the Zero Project website with traffic lights and world maps, to include hundreds of comments providing insight into the situation in many nations. The huge coverage of so many states would not be possible without the great support of Disabled People's International (DPI), its member organizations and its chair - Javed Abidi.
All of the current results are included on 164 pages of the Zero Project's Report for 2014, which is published on the occasion of this year's Zero Project Conference. Approximately 1,000 copies of the report have been printed and sent to leading opinion leaders and decision makers around the world, to include all governments that have ratified the U.N. CRPD. Perhaps one day, the United States of America will join the rest of the world.
The Zero Project Conference for 2014
In 2014, the Zero Project Conference was held in Vienna in the U.N. Headquarters and was attended by several hundred participants from more than 50 countries, bringing together the representatives of more than 40 Innovative Practices and Policies with leading decision makers and opinion leaders worldwide. Leading organizations in the field of disability and human rights, such as the International Disability Alliance and Disabled People's International, as well as of accessibility such as the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT's, were active at the conference and provided their expertise. The organizations presented their latest work.
The Zero Project Website and Social Media
On the occasion of the Zero Project Conference of 2014 the Zero Project website was re-launched. The site now includes a search tool to find Innovative Practices and Policies, as well as to discover the status of implementation by country and question. A new online tool provides experts around the world with the opportunity to register, immediately enter information, as well as to view their answers to the Social Indicator questionnaires on the world map. Along with running the Zero Project website, different social media activities have been started, to include activities on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
America - One Can Always Hope for a Change
The United States of America was greatly pleased and rather proud to sign the CRPD; I remember the day very well. Yet since that day the politicians of America have essentially sat around where the CRPD is concerned, reflecting the seemingly endless conflict between political parties and their personal agendas in this nation. It is exceptionally difficult to witness.
There are millions of People with Disabilities in America alone. In the world today there are approximately 1 Billion people who experience a form of disability. Yet ISIS and Ebola seem to be far more important than the world's largest minority population, who have been waiting and waiting for the world to recognize our rights. The question of how many People with Disabilities die every single year due to poverty, lack of appropriate nutrition and more is a painful one and apparently the U.S. Government has no desire to approach the CRPD seriously. The U.S. Government does; however, appear to have plenty of time and money to spend on war and war-like activities.
Perhaps the next administration in America will wake up and realize just how vital ratification of the CRPD truly is. Politicians in America adore pointing to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as if it is the standard for other nations to reach for. The truth is that the ADA, while very important, only applies to Americans and is filled with loopholes that employers constantly abuse, explaining in part why People with Disabilities have always and still do experience the highest unemployment rate in America for example.
The United States of America is certainly no longer a leader where disability rights are concerned. In fact - The United States of America is seriously lacking in relation to disability rights and needs to get with the program and ratify the CRPD. If the leaders of America find themselves unable to make up their minds concerning ratification of the CRPD, they should not be in office.
Zero Project Indicators
Zero Project Report 2014 PDF
- 1 - Conquer Paralysis Now Challenge : $20M in Grants and Prizes : Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) (2014/12/05)
- 2 - Overcriminalization of People with Disabilities Must Be Addressed in Criminal Justice Reform : Center for American Progress (2016/07/19)
- 3 - How Prison Solitary Confinement Harms People with Physical Disabilities : American Civil Liberties Union (2017/01/13)
- 4 - Usher Syndrome: Types, Causes and Treatment Options : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/09/18)
- 5 - Disability ID Cards: How and Where to Obtain One : Disabled World (2019/05/21)
- 6 - Nazis, Sterilization and Deaths of People with Disabilities : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/09/11)
- 7 - Focus on Your Abilities - Not Disabilities : Sandi Baker (2008/12/23)