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George Hagerty-Zero Project
Beacon President Dr. George J. Hagerty admires a display board at the United Nations Zero Project Conference 2020.

Beacon College shared the limelight in February with a global group of educational innovators and advocates for individuals living with disabilities as the Leesburg, Fla. college was recognized for its innovative pedagogy during the United Nations Zero Project Conference 2020 in Vienna, Austria.

In September, the Zero Project, initiated in 2008 by the Essl Foundation to champion globally disability rights, support the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and strive for a world without barriers, notified Beacon College that the school made its shortlist of organizations to recognized for innovative policies and practices. Beacon College would receive special recognition during the Zero Project Awards presented at the February 2020 conference.

“The simple fact that Beacon College has been privileged to be selected among the world’s most promising educational innovations is testimony to the importance of the work in which the college’s faculty and staff engage daily,” said Beacon President Dr. George J. Hagerty. “Sharing this international stage with the diversity of countries, programs, and cultures is humbling and truly extraordinary. What is clear is that our community’s student outcomes for persons with learning and attention issues are unmatched in the U.S. and globally.”

The Zero Project, according to its website, through a network of more than 4,000 experts in over 150 countries largely focuses on researching and sharing innovations on behalf of persons with disabilities.

The conference last month attracted some 800 representatives from more than 90 nations including President Hagerty and his wife Dr. Oksana Hagerty, assistant director of the Center for Student Success at Beacon College.

Over their two days in Vienna, the Hagertys reached out to programs and colleagues from Belgium, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Kuwait, and India. They discovered keen global interest in educational models that address neurodiversity — evidenced by the conference’s thematic presentations, focused on adaptive technology, public policy, instructional design, or transition to independent living and work.

“Beacon’s ‘small team’ was able to exchange meaningful insights and perspectives on the subject of universal design for learning and its influential role in best serving students with learning and attention issues in tandem with peers without such a profile,” President Hagerty said.

Though the college graced the Zero Project shortlist, Beacon didn’t bring home any hardware. Nevertheless, the Beacon model attracted considerable interest for its embrace of learning differences, including those related to autism spectrum disorder.

As President Hagerty noted, his “well-provisioned collection of Beacon business cards was depleted at the close of the first day.”