International Day of People with Disabilities 2019

Today we are celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities 2019 (December 3). The theme for 2019 is ‘The Future is Accessible’.

Image shows a woman in a wheelchair wearing a sporting topAbilityNet’s vision is a digital world that’s accessible to all. With that in mind, we’ve just celebrated the third year of AbilityNet’s TechShare Pro Conference, which featured inspiring talks by accessibility leaders.

Many of the accessibility leaders have lived experience of disability. Here’s our list of ten inspiring advocates of digital inclusion.

Note listed in alphabetical order for fairness as they’re all equally amazing.

1. Adi Latif, Accessibility and Usability Consultant for AbilityNet

AbilityNet’s Adi Latif is the world’s first blind snowboarder. When he’s not jumping out of a helicopter, he’s advising companies on how to make their websites and apps more accessible or speaking at events, most recently at the Charity Tech Conference.

2. Caroline Casey, Founder of the Valuable 500

Launched at DAVOS in 2018 The Valuable 500, is a campaign calling for business leaders to stop being ‘diversish’ and commit to accountability and action on disability inclusion by putting it on the board agenda.

Caroline Casey founder of the Valuable 500 is spearheading the business revolution and was the keynote speaker at AbilityNet’s TechShare Pro 2019.

She has spoken openly about being registered blind as a result of ocular albinism. Watch the video below to see Caroline in action at TechShare Pro.

AbilityNet offers consultancy, auditing and training to ensure websites and apps are accessible to all, helping businesses to get inclusion right the first time, every time.

3. Chris Patnoe, Google’s Head of Accessibility Programmes

As head of Accessibility at Google, Chris is helping to drive a global inclusion programme. He spoke about some of the company’s innovations ahead of his appearance at this year’s TechShare Pro event. Chris told us about programmes including Sound Amplifier, and app designed to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing and Live Transcribe, which is an application that will transcribe the conversation you have with a person in up to 70 different languages.

4. Eleanor Southwood, Chair of the RNIB

Picture of the RNIB's Eleanor Southwood in a red topDigital accessibility isn’t a nice to have, according to RNIB Chair Eleanor Southwood.

Eleanor who was born blind is a champion of inclusion in her role as RNIB chair, where she advocates that the organisation should belong to those people who need it.

She is also a Councillor in North West London.

5. Haben Girma, Lenovo Accessibility and Inclusion Advisor

Haben is the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, an advocate for people with disabilities and the first Lenovo Accessibility and Inclusion Advisor.

Haben travels the world teaching individuals and organizations how inclusion is an opportunity for innovation which aligns perfectly with Lenovo’s vision of a world that delivers Smarter Technology for All and a digital future that is inclusive of everyone, everywhere.

AbilityNet shares Lenovo’s passion for innovation and showcases innovative approaches to inclusion at the annual Tech4good awards

6. Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft

Brummie-born Jenny Lay Flurrie travels the world promoting accessibility for Microsoft. Her sister has congenital deafness while Jenny acquired deafness through measles and ear infections. She began her career at Microsoft working on Hotmail and now leads on accessibility. Microsoft’s internal event The Ability Summit turns 10 next year.

Our free online tool My Computer My Way shows you how to find accessibility settings within a range of operating systems – including Microsoft – and across diverse devices

7. Kush Kanodia, social entrepreneur and AbiltyNet trustee

Trustee Kush pictured carrying the olympic torchLeadership was a key theme of AbilityNet’s TechShare Pro 2019, a theme that’s close to the heart of AbilityNet trustee Kush Kanodia. Kush, who has a condition called multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, has been named as one of The Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100.

He is a social entrepreneur who – among other things – is an advisor to the world’s first Global Disability Innovation Hub, which is exploring how low-tech assistive technology solutions can help disabled people around the world.

Read our interview with AbilityNet Trustee Kush Kanodia

8. Lee Ridley, Lost Voice Guy

We’re so blown away by the awesomeness of Lost Voice Guy that we gave him a special, one-off award at the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2019. The disabled comedian, Lee Ridley, uses a tablet to deliver his stand-up routines because his speech is affected by cerebral palsy. He has raised the profile of people living with disabilities since winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2018.

9. Reema Patel, Head of Public Engagement at the Ada Lovelace Institute

Reema works for the Ada Lovelace Foundation seeking to ensure that data and AI work for all people and society. She leads the organisation’s public attitudes and public deliberation research and was a member of its founding team.

She has consulted for a variety of international organisations, including the Danish Board of Technology Foundation and, San Francisco based technology social media start-up. Reema, who is deaf, is a fellow of the RSA, founding trustee of a community-run library, and a local councillor. 

10. Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet

Robin ChristophersonA founding member of AbilityNet, Robin has worked in the area of accessibility and digital inclusion for over two decades.

Robin is a vocal advocate of digital government driven by universal design. Robin has often called for the proactive enforcement of equality legislation in his blog posts and through a busy public speaking schedule across Europe and around the world. Robin’s contributions to digital inclusion have been recognised by an MBE, and in 2019 he was included in World's 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government List.

Robin Christopherson is the host of AbilityNet’s new podcast

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