Zero Project Conference, Vienna 2018

Our round-up from Zero Project Conference 2018

Me and Kate were recently invited to present at the Zero Project Conference in Vienna. This year’s theme was accessibility and whilst a lot of the talks were about uses of technology and artificial intelligence it was also good to see that there was a real mix of people trying to find both technological and human based solutions to the problems that people with disabilities face in trying to go about their day to day life.

Zero Project Conference

We were ourselves also delighted to win an award for ‘Innovative Practice’ from the Zero Project for our work with Gig Buddies and you can read about Christian and Jo’s story here. 

As this is World Down Syndrome Day we want to do a special shout out to some new friends we made at the conference too:

Our Normal – Sweden

Our Normal is a platform to connect families of children with learning disabilities with each other to provide advice and mutual support. They’re wanting to reach out and find like-minded people outside of Sweden to extend their networks. If you’d like to find out more then drop them a line and get connected.

Zero Project Conference

Down Syndrome Albania

Down Syndrome Albania was founded by the amazing Emanuaela Zaimi to create activities and a support network for people with Down Syndrome in Albania and their families. Their overall aim being that people with Down Syndrome in Albania be supported to live full and active lives, like everyone else.

Zero Project Conference

Here’s a round up of some of the interesting projects, and people that we met at the conference.

Vela – Canada

Vela is a not for profit organisation based in British Columbia who have developed the concept of Microboards™. These are a small (micro) group of committed family and friends (a minimum of 5 people) who join together with the individual to create a non-profit society (board).

Vela’s beliefs are:

  • that relationships are the most important component of a person’s life;
  • that all people have the capacity for self-determination;
  • that all planning and decisions made with or for a person must be based on his/her strengths, wishes, needs and interests; and
  • that all people have gifts to share with those around them and their wider community.

MagikMe – Hungary

MagikMe is a social enterprise started by 5 parents of children with disabilities. They wanted to find a way for their children to be able to play with other kids in their park. Working with design experts they’ve come up with a range of playground equipment which is designed to enable kids to play together. (Not creating solitary equipment for children with disabilities).

Zero Project Conference

Jaipur Foot Organisation – India

Providing a prosthetic foot that costs $10 and hailed by Time magazine as one of the 50 best inventions for the world in 2009.

Since starting in India they now work in Afghanistan, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Pakistan, and the Philippines. In addition, Jaipur Foot has set up independent artificial limb fitting centres in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, enabling between 50,000 and 75,000 support aids to be provided every year.

Read more here.

“Inklusion muss laut sein” – Germany

Inklusion muss laut sein means ‘Inclusion Must Be Loud’ – and is a buddy scheme which started to enable heavy metal fans with disabilities to attend festivals and now has a European-wide network of buddies and also provides advice on accessibility.

We were gutted to not meet them though, as we were presenting at the same session, but Ron, from the organisation, was taken ill. This was our only disappointment of the whole Zero Project Conference.

We’ll be reaching out to him for sure though as we definitely want to find out more about their work.

Zero Project Conference

Inclusion International – USA

Sue Swenson was chairing a panel discussion on the uses of data and how they have been using big data to ensure that the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are heard, and that the wider population also hear their voices.

This is of course interesting in itself but also it turns out that Sue is a big Heavy Load fan and she even managed (my mistake she reckons!) to play a Youtube clip during the Q&A at the end of my session where you could clearly hear Simon shout ‘1,2,3,4!’

Love it – a rebel spirit doing some amazing work in the USA.

Microsoft 360 – The World!

This was a fascinating talk, looking at all the measures that Microsoft has built in to the universal design of Microsoft 360. I had no ideas most of these features existed, and they’re there before our eyes.

You can find out more about these features here.

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is a truly amazing free app developed by Microsoft that turns text and images in to spoken word. It’s designed for people with a visual impairment but has so many more applications for people who can’t read too.

You can download it from the usual app stores. It’ll have you pointing your phone at things all afternoon!

Zero Project Conference

Other highlights

We’ve never been to a conference before that has it’s own hymn/anthem launched as part of the event and so this was a lovely moment – watch the video here:

The Zero Project Conference was a wonderful occasion to be at. Around 1700 people are involved as delegates, speakers, and organisers and everyone was just so friendly.

It’s not everyday either that you get to speak in the United Nations!

Thank you Zero Project Conference. 

If you want to find out more about running Gig Buddies in your part of the world do get in touch.

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