International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated each year to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life. IWD holds a special significance at Intopia, as it aligns with our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion within accessibility and the technology industry.

Rosemary Kayess

Rosemary Kayess’ recent appointment as the Disability Discrimination Commissioner marks a significant milestone in the advocacy for disability rights in Australia. As she embarks on her role as Commissioner, there is a sense of anticipation for the transformative initiatives she will lead.

Rosemary is also the Chairperson, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Over the years she has contributed to multiple disability focused councils and committees. Her desire to contribute to these organisations and her strong commitment to advancing the rights of people with disabilities is admirable.

Connect with Rosemary Kayess on LinkedIn.

Rachel Noble

Rachel Noble stands as a testament to the power of representation and leadership in the realm of health and disability services in New Zealand. As Head of Disability at Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, her focus on elevating the voices of Tāngata whaikaha, Māori and disabled people, addresses a critical gap in healthcare services. Rachel’s advocacy highlights the importance of inclusivity and equity. This emphasises the need for health services to be accessible and responsive to the diverse needs of all New Zealanders.

Her innovative approach, which integrates human-centered design with strategic health initiatives, aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that no one is left behind. Rachel’s leadership not only change within the health sector but also serves as a blueprint for how inclusivity can be woven into the fabric of all public services.

Connect with Rachel Noble on LinkedIn.

Laila Coulton

Laila Coulton’s is currently the Head of Design, Research, and Accessibility Operations at Xero. Her journey in digital accessibility has led to significant advancements within large organisations, highlighting her ability to navigate and influence change. Laila’s strategic approach, balancing top-down and bottom-up strategies, serves as a guiding light for businesses aiming to integrate accessibility into their ways of working.

She advocates for a culture that values inclusivity as a fundamental aspect of business success. Laila’s leadership and communication skills enable her to mobilise teams towards embracing accessibility. She brings stakeholders along on the journey, so they see the value of accessibility and ultimately deliver results.

Connect with Laila Coulton on LinkedIn.

Larene Le Gassick

Larene Le Gassick’s contributions to the field of accessibility and her role in community building make her a standout champion. As the Team Engineering Lead, Accessibility at Canva, Larene shows how technical expertise and a deep commitment to inclusive design can create impactful digital experiences for all users.

Her work extends beyond her professional role, deeply engaging with the broader community through contributing to initiatives like A11y Bytes and advocating for women in STEM. Larene’s personal journey, , adds a profound layer of empathy and understanding to her work, driving her to ensure that digital products are accessible by design. Her willingness to share knowledge makes her a respected figure in the accessibility community.

Connect with Larene Le Gassick on LinkedIn.

Ash Ling

Ash Ling’s roles in DesignOps & Digital Accessibility at Bupa and Digital Inclusion at Knowable.Me reflect her mission to reduce barriers in the digital world. Her journey reflects a passionate commitment to advancing digital accessibility and inclusion, demonstrating how individual drive and leadership can create organisational change. She takes her passion and drive to make things work for all people wherever she goes.

Ash focusses on integrating accessibility into business practices, ensuring that digital products and services are inclusive from the ground up. Her leadership style, reflected by determination and fostering a culture of excellence, is admirable.

Connect with Ash Ling on LinkedIn.

Kelly Schulz

Kelly Schulz’s foundational work with Knowable.Me and her role as a Board Member of the Victorian Disability Worker Commission highlight her as a strong leader in accessibility and digital inclusion. Kelly’s advocacy work is rooted in a deep understanding of the user’s perspective, ensuring technology is accessible and functional for everyone. Her vision is a world where human uniqueness isn’t a barrier to economic and social participation.

Kelly’s approach to accessibility goes beyond technical compliance, focusing on the human experience and the real-world impact of digital services. Her drive to contribute to the dialogue around accessibility is admirable. She has presented many times, including at A11y Bytes and A11y Camp. She has a genuine passion for sharing knowledge and empowering others.

Connect with Kelly Schulz on LinkedIn.

Sarah Pulis

Sarah Pulis, Co-Founder of Intopia, highlights the spirit of innovation and advocacy in the accessibility space. She is an ideas woman and has suggested more innovative ideas than we can count. Sarah’s approach to digital products and services emphasises the need for accessibility to be integrated from the beginning.

Her work in founding A11y Camp and A11y Bytes has created platforms for knowledge sharing and community engagement. Her leadership not only advances digital accessibility but also nurtures the next generation of advocates and practitioners. She ensures that the momentum continues to grow by taking the time to invest in the growth of her team and sharing her knowledge in the community.

Connect with Sarah Pulis on LinkedIn.

Ayesha Semfel

Ayesha Semfel is a Digital Accessibility Consultant at Intopia. Ayesha becomes a digital accessibility champion for the customers she works with, spreading the message of being digitally inclusive and providing practical accessibility solutions. Her journey into the accessibility field reflects the importance of curiosity and continuous development. She is always looking for ways to learn and develop her skills. She believes accessibility can serve as a powerful avenue for positive impact within organisations.

Her commitment to active listening and problem-solving facilitates meaningful conversations around accessibility. Her ability to bring people along on the journey of accessibility highlights the power of empathy and education in creating digital spaces that are truly for everyone.

Connect with Ayesha Semfel on LinkedIn.

Claire Webber

Claire Webber’s unique blend of design expertise and accessibility knowledge positions her as a notable emerging accessibility leader. At Intopia, she conducts accessibility audits, enjoying the investigatory and problem-solving side of accessibility work. She is also one of our Trainers, teaching people how to make designs accessible. She combines design principles and functionality to create accessible and beautiful digital experiences.

Claire’s involvement in community events and initiatives, such as DDD Adelaide, Adelaide A11y Meetup, and Inclusive Design 24, showcases her commitment to sharing knowledge. She believes it is important to take responsibility for digital products and the impact they have on the humans using them. She shares we all need to take responsibility to ensure inclusive design is a standard approach rather than a ‘nice to have’.

Connect with Claire Webber on LinkedIn.

These nine champions are generously shaping inclusion and accessibility in Australia and New Zealand. Their work, grounded in passion, innovation, and a deep commitment to inclusion, continues to and challenge us to envision and build a digital world where no one is left behind.