Two Australian initiatives recognised in the global Zero Project Accessibility Awards 2022

By Gisele Mesnage and Charissa Ramirez

The South Australian Government Online Accessibility Policy and Toolkit (Online Accessibility Toolkit) and Travel for All Guide are among the 76 Zero Project Awardees 2022 for their exceptional work to improve accessibility.

The awards will be officially presented at the Zero Project Conference 2022 at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria.

What is the Zero Project?

The Zero Project provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face are shared.

The approach of the Zero Project is research-driven. It aims to identify, curate, and share Innovative Practices and Policies as intended and encouraged by Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Its mission is centred around implementing the UN CRPD and its commitment to a world with zero barriers.

In a four-year cycle, the Zero Project research process focuses on one of these four topics:

  1. Employment
  2. Accessibility
  3. Independent Living
  4. Political Participation/Education.

This year’s research topic is accessibility.

About the Online Accessibility Toolkit

The Government of South Australia has developed the Online Accessibility Toolkit, a free and publicly available repository to help people make their websites and online solutions more accessible and inclusive.

As a result of new legislation introduced in 2018, the South Australian Government’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet partnered with Vision Australia, Royal Society for the Blind (SA) and Blind Citizens Australia (SA) to develop a new approach to online accessibility.

The repository consists of eight topics, including visual design and user experience.

The toolkit was co-designed with over 100 organisations with contributions from leading accessibility specialists, the community, not-for-profit organisations, the private sector, governments around the world and people with lived experience of disability, ensuring they have a leading role in shaping policies and creating programs which influence their lives.

The approach drew significant global recognition and is now considered a co-design benchmark across all levels of government in Australia.

Digital Gap Initiative’s nomination of the Online Accessibility Toolkit for the awards

Digital Gap Initiative (DGI) supports projects that will bring about systemic changes to close the gap on digital inclusion.

In 2021, DGI nominated the Online Accessibility Toolkit for the Zero Project 2022 Awards in recognition of the following:

  • as a practical how-to resource for designers, developers, project managers, and policy and lawmakers for online accessibility,
  • as a blueprint for organisations to co-design with people with lived experience of disability on policies and programs affecting their lives, resulting in better outcomes for inclusion,
  • as a model that can be adopted as part of government agencies and businesses’ digital policies and practices that will lead to removing accessibility barriers to users of digital technology.
Gisele is at her home office. On her computer screen is the video introduction to the toolkit. Around her are the digital technologies she uses everyday including her desktop computer, keyboard, headphone set and her mobile phone device.
Gisele Mesnage navigating the Online Accessibility Toolkit with a screen reader. Image: Charissa Ramirez.

Final selection of the awardees

The Zero Project team evaluated 381 nominations into a shortlist according to three main criteria: innovation, impact, and scalability.

Following the extensive review and voting process, the Online Accessibility Toolkit and the Travel for All Guide made it to the final selection of 76 innovative practices and policies from 35 countries that stood out for their proven and impactful commitment to remove barriers for all.

Here is a complete list of the Zero Project Awardees 2022.

Congratulations to Cliff Edwards (former strategic lead for the Online Accessibility Policy and Toolkit) and his colleagues at the South Australian Government. DGI would also like to recognise the Vision Australia Digital Access team and the community representatives who contributed to the co-design efforts of this world-quality resource.

We also congratulate the Travel for All Guide for being the other awardee from Australia. Travel For All Guide has been created to assist tourism operators in developing an Accessibility Statement for their business, allowing them to reach the accessible and inclusive travel market.

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Awardee of the Day

The awardees will each receive a special day of promotion on the Zero Project social media platforms. The Online Accessibility Toolkit is the Awardee of the Day on 11 January 2022.

Zero Project Conference 2022

The awardees will also be invited to present their projects virtually or in person at the Zero Project Conference 2022 (#ZeroCon22) on 23, 24 and 25 February 2022 at the United Nations Office in Vienna.

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