Inspirational women leading the charge in inclusion and accessibility

As we celebrate International Women's Day 2024 with the theme #InspireInclusion, AbilityNet stands firm in its commitment to a digital world that embraces diversity and accessibility for all. 

In this blog, we shine a spotlight on some of the inspiring women who have emerged as leaders in the realm of inclusion and accessibility. 

These remarkable individuals have not only spoken at our annual TechShare Pro conferences and participated in enlightening webinars, but have also collaborated with us as valued partners. A collage of 20 influential women in the accessibility and inclusion realm.

To make it even easier for you to engage with these remarkable women, we've included their LinkedIn profiles. 

Today, and every day, we celebrate their contributions to a more accessible and inclusive digital world. Let the inspiration unfold! 

Women who are leading from the top

It takes strong leadership to drive a diversity and inclusion culture and ensure accessibility is at a company's heart. We celebrate women and the top, helping to drive the D&I agenda. 

A head shot of Caroline CaseyCaroline Casey, co-founder of The Valuable 500 

Change starts at the top, believes Caroline Casey, the founder of The Valuable 500, an organisation she founded to put disability on the business leadership agenda of 500 national and multinational, private sector corporations. 

Dedicated to driving change through business for the 1.3 billion disabled people worldwide, Caroline has established multiple organisations and initiatives over the past two decades, all focused on promoting inclusion in the business landscape for disabled individuals. 

Caroline joined us at TechShare Pro 2021 to talk about the next steps to build a "murmuration" of support with other organisations and groups. Check out our blog on her talk.


Profile image of Irene Mbari-Kirika smiling.Irene Mbari-Kirika, Executive Director of inABLE

Irene Mbari-Kirika is the founder and executive director of inABLE, a not-for-profit organisation working in Kenya to bring computer assistive technology to disabled students in Africa.

To date, inABLE has established eight assistive technology computer labs, hired and trained 20 assistive technology computer instructors, and enrolled over 12,000 blind and visually impaired students.

As well as a dynamic, global strategic leader and an executive-level innovator, Irene also shares her insights and experience at accessibility and inclusion events; she spoke at TechShare Pro 2023 on the Accessibility Leaders Panel, reflecting on what the future holds for accessibility.

Profile image of Christina Mallon smiling.Christina Mallon, Principal Director of Inclusive Design of Microsoft 

Christina Mallon is the Principal Director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft. Christina is dedicated to creating technology that empowers marginalised communities.

Christina serves as a board member for Inclusively and Open Style Lab, founded at MIT. Her focus at Microsoft involves integrating responsible AI and accessibility into products, showcasing her commitment to universal inclusivity within the tech industry.


Profile image of Amy Low smiling to camera.Amy Low, Chief Operating Officer at AbilityNet

Amy Low is AbilityNet’s Chief Operating Officer. With more than 25 years of experience in leadership and transformation roles, she heads up AbilityNet’s expert accessibility services, workplace, education, and free services teams.

Passionate about leveraging technology to remove barriers, she ensures digital practices meet the needs of all. She works with a wide range of institutions and organisations providing services and support to ensure their digital practices are meeting the needs of the widest audience.    

Beyond her operational role, Amy actively participates in events related to accessibility and higher education. She shares insights on why inclusion is essential for the success of every workplace and advocates for the benefits of building more accessible work environments.

Amy was a speaker at TechShare Pro 2023, discussing the business case for accessibility.


Profile image of Carolanne Minashi smiling Carolanne Minashi, Global Head of Inclusion at HSBC 

Carolanne Minashi is a renowned diversity and inclusion expert with a track record of making an impact. Carolanne joined HSBC in April 2021 and passionately drives real change through her work, covering a broad spectrum including disability, mental health, gender, LGBTQ+, race, and ethnicity.

She is a member of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School, and in 2019, she joined the European Advisory Board for Catalyst, an organisation focused on accelerating female progression in the workplace. 

Carolanne spoke at TechShare Pro 2023 on Empowering the C-Suite: Overcoming Fears and Embracing Disability Inclusion.


Profile image of Kate Nash smiling to cameraKate Nash OBE, CEO and Creator of PurpleSpace

Kate Nash OBE, is the founding CEO of PurpleSpace, a leadership development network for disability employee resource groups (ERGs). 

Kate introduced 'Networkology,' a unique disability ERG change model that blends the art and science of creating high-performing disability ERGs. This leadership approach equips ERG leaders with the skills to address significant barriers to internal change, known as 'human resisters.' 

In 2023, Kate Nash authored the Confidence Conversation series of guides. These guides aim to assist employees with disabilities in building inner confidence, marking a significant step towards fostering a more inclusive workplace. 

Profile image of Preety Kumar smilingPreety Kumar, CEO, Founder, and Board Member of Deque Systems 

Preety Kumar is the CEO, Founder, and Board Member of Deque Systems, a leading force in the tech industry. As a visionary leader, she also contributed to industry standards through collaboration with the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. Preety is a nominated member of the Accessibility Forum's Strategic Management Council, where she works to foster information accessibility through cooperative efforts.

Read about our partnership with Deque to hep build a stronger accessibility community across the globe.

Influential women empowering disabled voices

We explore women making sure that digital accessibility stays top of the accessibility agenda.

Profile image of Jenny Lay-Flurrie smilingJenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft

Digital accessibility has “never been more important,"  according to Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft. She shared how and why Microsoft is putting digital accessibility first at TechShare Pro 2020. 

Jenny leads Microsoft's efforts on accessibility and disability inclusion. Driving a sustained ecosystem of accessibility across the tech giant’s products, services, and processes that empower customers and employees 

You can hear Jenny in conversation as part of our Accessibility Insights series.


Profile image of Zoe Portlock smilingZoe Portlock, Accessibility Lead at Hargreaves Lansdown 

Zoe Portlock serves as the Accessibility Lead at Hargreaves Lansdown (HL). 

Drawing from her lived experience and professional background, she writes articles and provides consultations on Digital Accessibility. 

Zoe, a passionate advocate for individuals with accessibility needs, is determined to guarantee that everyone enjoys the equal digital experiences they deserve. She actively contributes to our round table events, emphasising the importance of inclusivity in digital spaces. 

Zoe will be joining our upcoming webinar on Building Your Accessibility Capability: In-house Skills vs. External Suppliers on 19 March at 1pm GMT. Register your place for the free webinar


Profile image of Sumaira Latif smilingSumaira Latif, Company Accessibility Leader at Procter & Gamble 

“When we design inclusively, we're designing so that everyone is delighted with the same product,” says Sumaria Latif, Procter & Gamble’s Company Accessibility Leader. 

In her 22 years at Procter & Gamble (P&G), Sumaira has worked on some of the most impactful examples of accessible product designs. She is committed to creating a more inclusive world for everyone, both inside and outside of P&G.


Profile image of Ashley Peacock smilingAshley Peacock, Senior Accessibility Consultant at AbilityNet 

Ashley Peacock is a Senior Accessibility Consultant at AbilityNet, driving inclusive user research processes and mentoring team members. Her expertise extends to project management, relationship building with partners, and contributing to business strategy alongside the head of sales.

Ashley has revamped training workshops and led efforts to audit and comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines standards, showcasing her commitment to digital inclusivity and contributing to AbilityNet's vision of making a digital world accessible to all. 

With a wealth of experience spanning nearly 15 years, Ashley has also been a passionate advocate, speaking on topics such as the lived experience of Neurodiversity. 

Elisabeth Ward, Lead Accessibility Specialist for Scope Elisabeth Ward smiling at the camera

Lead Accessibility Specialist Elisabeth Ward of Scope works in programme development for accessibility, inclusion and workplace culture.  
Elisabeth also delivers talks, speaks on panels and shares her expertise in the media. She offered insights on digital design for a post-pandemic world at TSP 2020.

Community-spirited women

Technology is a great enabler. Here we celebrate women, ensuring that no-one is excluded through lack of access, social inequalities or lack of skills. 

Profile image of Helen Milner smilingHelen Milner OBE, Group CEO at Good Things Foundation

Under Helen Milner's leadership, The Good Things Foundation has published a blueprint for change designed to reduce some of the social inequalities that lead to a lack of access to technology, reinforcing social inequalities and leading to loneliness and social isolation. 

Helen is Chief Executive for GTF and has worked on the internet and communities for 30 years. In June 2015, she was appointed an OBE for digital inclusion services in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

A picture of AbilityNet's Sarah BrainSarah Brain, Free Services Manager AbilityNet

Sarah Brain looks after AbilityNet’s Free Services, including our 450+ volunteers who support older and disabled people to make the best use of their technology. 

She also looks after our free online services, including our popular factsheets and My Computer My Way tool guide. 

Sarah has been recognised for her inspiring leadership and works alongside our partners such as BT to help improve the digital skills of 4,000 older and digitally excluded people across the UK during 2023.


Profile image of Elizabeth Anderson smilingElizabeth Anderson, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance 

Chief Executive of the Learning Foundation and its initiative and outward-facing brand, the Digital Poverty Alliance, Elizabeth Anderson, leads work to end digital poverty by 20 

Regularly speaking at industry events and talking to the media to raise awareness, as well as engaging with government and industry leaders around the key issues behind digital poverty.


Influencing accessibility standards

Policy is a key lever in terms of driving an accessibility agenda. Several influential women are involved in the policy arena. 

a head shot of Malin RyggMalin Rygg, Head of Digital Authority, Norway

Malin Rygg has been in charge of the department of monitoring at the Norwegian Digitization Directorate since 2013. 

The directorate supervises Norwegian legislation that requires the public and private sectors to comply with international accessibility requirements. 

Malin is a lawyer and a prolific speaker, including policy's role versus the drive towards inclusive design benefits. 

Marlin recently joined us at TechShare Pro 2023, where she discussed How will the European Accessibility Act change the global accessibility landscape.


A picture of Susanna LaurinSusanna Laurin, Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Funka and IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) Representative to the European Union

Susanna Laurin is Chief Research and Innovation Officer of Funka and helps share future digital accessibility standards. 

She has been a thought leader in the field of digitalisation, inclusion, and e-government for more than 20 years, and she is a frequent international lecturer and debater. Susanna is the Chair of the ETSI/CEN/CENELEC Joint Working Group on eAccessibility, responsible for the development and update of EN301549 to reflect presumed conformance of the Web Accessibility Directive and the upcoming European Accessibility Act. 

As well as speaking at TechShare Pro 2023, Susanna contributed to our guide How to include accessibility in your procurement processes

Driving change through community

Women are taking a leading role in bringing like-minded people together to share tips on accessibility and to support others at each stage of their accessibility journey. 

CProfile image of Charlie Turrell smilingharlie Turrell, Engagement Manager at the Ministry of Justice UK 

Charlie Turrell is the Engagement and Champions Lead at the Ministry of Justice UK. In its pursuit of building capability, Charlie has played a pivotal role in establishing our Champions Network. Under her leadership, the Ministry of Justice UK implemented a comprehensive onboarding process, resulting in a thriving network encompassing individuals from various roles across the organisation. 

Charlie is also the co-founder of CAN (Champions of Accessibility Network) which brings together over 550 large digital organisations including Google, Microsoft and all major UK broadcasters and international on-demand service providers, with cultural inclusion programmes including an accessibility champions network.   

Don’t miss Charlie on our webinar on Building accessibility Capability on Tuesday 19 March at 1pm GMT. Register today.


Profile image of Shani Dandha smilingDr. Shani Dandha, Inclusion & Accessibility Strategist and Consultant, Presenter, and Actor 

"I don’t just want to see disabled people talking about disability. We need way more incidental representation of disability. And there are different programmers and broadcasters doing this in a different way. Sometimes, you are still made to feel like a bit of a tick box, and we need to move away from that." - Shani at TechShare Pro 2023 as part of the Media Respresentation of Disability panel.

Dr. Shani Dandha is dedicated to empowering women globally. As a thought leader, she guides organisations in creating inclusive spaces. She is a captivating presenter, using her platform to inspire change.  

Profile image of Heather Hepburn smilingHeather Hepburn, Accessibility Lead at Skyscanner 

Heather Hepburn's mission is, "Let's make travel accessible to all and give everyone the same chance to enrich their lives through the joys of travel." 

Heather is a passionate accessibility evangelist who is leading the charge as the driving force behind the accessibility program at Skyscanner. In her role, she is not just introducing accessibility initiatives; she is instilling a cultural shift that integrates accessibility into the very fabric of Skyscanner's identity and operations. 

As a co-founder of the Champions of Accessibility Network (CAN), Heather has helped cultivate an active community of over 1,300 accessibility professionals from businesses worldwide. Through CAN, she facilitates collaboration and knowledge-sharing, further amplifying the impact of accessibility initiatives on a global scale. 

Find out more about Heather and her work when she partnered with AbilityNet to use our Digital Accessibility Maturity Model.

Profile image of Emma Lawton smilingEmma Lawton, Co-Founder, More Human 

Emma Lawton is co-founder of the start-up More Human, a platform designed to help build digital communities. 

She joined our panel at TechShare Pro 2021 that explored disability representation and the power of social media. 

Emma was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 29, which opened her eyes to technology's power as an enabler of human interaction. 

More Human's mission is to bring people together in virtual communities. 


Professional services from AbilityNet