Welcome to the team who live and breathe the Open ethos.
Our team consists of highly experienced, industry experts who, despite diverse backgrounds, share the following fundamental traits:
- A Collaborative Approach
Combined, we have well over a century of inclusion experience from many different professional perspectives. We have worked with regional, national and global organisations across financial services, retail, transport, broadcasting and communications, technology, health, entertainment and fashion.
Our backgrounds are varied, encompassing: user research, user experience, visual and spatial design, innovation, digital and physical prototyping, product development, product management, strategy and finance, project and business management.
Together we share a passion to improve the quality and equality of customer experience.
Meet the Team
Christine is the founder and Managing Director of Open Inclusion. She ensures that the client’s business objectives are understood, managed and fully met through great collaboration, clear focus, prioritisation, and an uncompromising eye for quality and practical usability of work produced to solve problems and address opportunities as needed.
Christine has a background of over 25 years designing and making new products, services, teams or businesses, or making them better. This was initially in major commercial corporate organisations, and in the past decade, in inclusive research and design agencies that she's led.
For nearly a decade she has been solely focused on disability and age inclusion through inclusive research, design, innovation and brand experiences. She has pioneered new approaches for inclusion-led innovation, consumer research, and design at Open that have been successfully adopted by clients, and used strategically and practically to improve products, services, and environments. This has been across many industries and sectors, from retail to banking, health care, transport, housing, entertainment and consumer goods.
These approaches have also been adopted to inform accelerators, government or privately funded innovation programmes, startups and change initiatives. She is often engaged as an advisor or expert partner for international initiatives like XRAccess or Valuable 500 and is on the advisory board of a number of fresh new startups and scale-ups.
She has worked extensively in a wide range of emerging technologies from immersive experiences to voice UI, new mobility solutions to smart cities, spaces and homes. She sees new technologies as worth investigating to see how they can offer new or better ways to solve older and ongoing unmet needs if well designed and with all users in mind from the start.
Christine loves looking for, building and empowering the best team, regularly in collaboration with other organisations. This allows us, as a relatively small team, to have great impact, locally and globally. Each time we collaborate, either internally or externally we learn from others, deepen understanding, widen the circles of inclusion and strengthen the long-term positive impacts.
She works closely with the research team at Open, regularly engaging with our community or other disability and age-inclusive user groups to better understand how diverse customers really experience products, services, communication and environments - what works and what could be improved. This informs our work with clients and advocacy more broadly, to improve the experiences for all: tactically through product improvements and more strategically, building role-based awareness, inclusive practices, processes and skills.
As an economist by training and human-centred designer by practice, she also leads the economic value research for Open, assisting our clients understand the strategic and financial benefits of more inclusive approaches.
Christine is an active member of the Market Research Society in the UK and is supporting their development of the Unlimited Community (disability-inclusive research). She is on the strategy committee for XRAccess, the global immersive accessibility community, is an expert advisor to The Valuable 500, inclusive research partner to the Business Disability Forum and RNIB in the UK, and on the British Standards Committee for sign design. She has a B Ec/ BA (Asian Studies) from the ANU, MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management, and CPACC from the IAAP.
When not managing the growth and delivery quality of our work at Open, she can generally be found in a café with her husband, kids or friends or on a mountain cycling, running or skiing some Alpine trail.
Tom is an inclusive design and user experience research specialist who helps clients inform the design of their products and services with usability insights from customers with diverse needs. He is passionate about organising and facilitating user-centred research with “edge case” users such as people with disabilities and older adults with cognitive decline as a way to help businesses realize their inclusion goals and create better user experiences for everyone.
With over five years’ experience working in multidisciplinary design and research settings, Tom is familiar with a wide range of research methods including mystery shopping, heuristic review, usability testing, semi-structured interviews, user surveys, focus groups, personas, card sorts, task analysis and contextual inquiry.
Tom has a Master of Arts and a Master of Design in Inclusive Design. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, he has provided inclusive research and design solutions spanning digital and built environment accessibility for both public and private sector clients including the Government of Canada.
When not working for Open, Tom is an accomplished artist, with an impressive portfolio of illustrations, portraits, caricatures and other cool stuff you can check out on his website.
Location: Geneva and London
Rob’s role at Open Inclusion is to lead the development of new product opportunities such as Open's Inclusive Design Canvas. He also works with the research and operations teams to support the delivery of great client projects and strategic business management.
Rob has over 20 years of experience leading teams to design, build and run digital products and innovative solutions. He has led teams primarily in the financial services industry to both improve and enable the innovation processes and culture as well as to build and deliver new initiatives aimed at improving the customer experience and operational excellence.
Rob is passionate about the opportunity to bring more diverse perspectives to our clients to better enable ideation, and improve proposition development and the value of the innovation. This will deliver better solutions to all their customers, including those with specific access needs. There remains a significant opportunity for companies to differentiate their products and services through genuine inclusive design thinking and an approach that engages with, and delivers to, people with lived experience of disability.
When not focusing on helping to enable the growth of Open, Rob is usually spending time with his family or enjoying the great outdoors.
As Operations Director Simon leads the development of the processes and structures that allow Open and our community to grow and thrive. Simon brings a systems thinking approach to Open, developed from over 20 years working in and leading organisations that generate insight and deliver design and social regeneration solutions across physical and services environments.
Simon has always placed people at the heart of problem-solving, internally empowering teams to better deliver solutions for clients, and externally informing solutions with fresh perspectives. Here at Open, this supports the ongoing development of our team and our delivery capability, providing clients with a more complete picture of their brand through disability-inclusive perspectives, to improve and innovate across products and systems for lasting change.
With a background in architecture and design, Simon has led global design companies working at the intersection of social inclusion, health and climate, including developing new care models in low-resource settings and helping international charities create new strategies and operational models. He loves reducing the friction between people and the services or products they use.
In his downtime, he finds himself out on his bike (frequently lost) in the highlands of Scotland or wandering the coast with his wife, two kids and dog.
Cathy has over 2 decades of experience in the field of inclusive user research, design and innovation. Before joining Open she was working for many years at RNIB leading their user research team and as a freelance consultant on several European-funded projects looking at new technology and how this can help people with disabilities.
Cathy believes in making products and services inclusive to enable everyone to participate to the level they wish to in society. She has previously worked on a number of very innovative and influential projects such as supporting the design of the first talking set-top box and the development of ATMs accessible to people with sight loss. She understands the importance of not just technical accessibility but also inclusive usability, and has worked with a team on guidelines combining these two perspectives that jointly create user experience.
Cathy has managed combined teams and worked extensively with many businesses to help improve the accessibility and usability of their products, websites and apps. This included heuristic assessments and usability testing with people with disabilities in a range of diverse areas including tactile markings on bank notes, electric showers, smart TVs, websites and apps. Cathy also has experience of carrying out research including focus groups and questionnaires with people with disabilities.
Originally an engineer Cathy soon found her forte was in improving usability and moved quickly into this field building up a wealth of experience across digital, products and wayfinding.
When not at work Cathy likes walking – particularly if it ends at a café – and she enjoys knitting and yoga.
Graeme is a recognised accessibility advocate and expert in workplace and digital accessibility. He was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for his services to people with dementia and disabilities. Previously his success campaigning for, developing and implementing best practice within a major UK bank led to him being recognised in the 2009 Financial Sector Technology Awards for 'Outstanding contribution by an individual to the industry'. He has also been a contributing author of the British digital accessibility standard, BS 8878, the Business Disability Forum’s Accessibility Maturity Model and their Accessible Technology Charter.
Graeme started out as a developer, who by the early 2000s was pioneering digital accessibility by adapting existing standards into non-technical “business-friendly” formats for practical use. Using hands-on skills he demonstrates that accessibility, functionality and aesthetic design are not mutually incompatible. Later, armed with a better understanding of access needs and appropriate, efficient adjustments for people with disabilities, his focus broadened to inclusion in the workplace.
When not solving specific client inclusion requirements, Graeme shares his knowledge and skills through a range of industry bodies. Graeme represents the banking sector on the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge and personally lead the creation of a cross-industry Dementia Friendly Financial Services Charter. He is also an invited, active contributor for the Business Disability Forum, Disability Rights UK, EHRC, Dept of Work & Pensions, British Standards Institution, the EU Commission and International Labour Organisation.
Outside work Graeme is a self-taught guitarist who first picked up a guitar at the age of 45. More recently, as if his wife hadn’t suffered enough, he decided to learn the banjo as well. He has documented his journey via monthly videos uploaded to his YouTube channel that hopefully show that being middle aged is no barrier to learning to play music.
Karen is an inclusive research consultant for Open Inclusion. She has almost 30 years experience in research and insights roles and has an excellent track record of applied research across a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. She spent much of her career on agency side working with a variety of high profile organisations managing projects related to customer satisfaction and engagement, new product development or service delivery and large scale projects exploring behaviours in society and business more generally.
In the last three years Karen has been solely focussed on disability inclusion. She has worked on research projects to deliver insights to business audiences on how they can further develop, and effectively expand their engagement with disability inclusion amongst their workforce and their customers or products or service users.
Karen has worked with many clients over the years to help them thoroughly explore the key messages and recommendations that research delivers. That has been via written reports, presentations and results workshops. Her passion for research, her natural curiosity and her experience over the years has led to intuitive skills in reporting, homing in on the key themes and emerging stories from data and insights.
When not working Karen enjoys walks with her dog, artistic pursuits and planning her next travel adventures.
Kate is a Senior Inclusive Researcher at Open. She has over a 15 years of experience as a communication researcher, studying how people with disabilities —especially people with deafness and hearing loss — understand and create rich, multi-layered messages using their hands, bodies, and voices. Before joining Open, Kate researched sign languages and signing communities in the United States, Mexico, Israel, and Sweden.
With a background in experimental design, Kate brings a knowledge of how and why to combine qualitative research methods (like interviewing, focus groups, and field site observations) with quantitative methods (like A/B testing and survey analytics) to meet specific research needs. She is in her element when adapting research approaches for real-world settings — like the conference room, the kitchen, or the hiking trail.
When Kate isn’t working, you’ll likely find her walking a trail outside of London (or happily snacking next to one).
Charley is a freelance Senior Inclusive Service Designer and User Researcher currently working with Open. Charley has experience working across a wide variety of public, private, and third-sector organisations to help redesign and develop inclusive services and products to improve lives. Charley enjoys building inclusive design capability within teams and supporting organisations to understand their user's needs. In particular, Charley has often worked on projects across healthcare, housing, and policy spaces to create enjoyable inclusive experiences and services.
With a background in Graphic Design, Charley is able to visualise complex problems, ecosystems and service experiences to then best enable teams to identify improvements to create further inclusive and accessible services/products.
When Charley isn’t working, you’ll likely find her gardening or out and about on her bike. Often Charley has multiple arts and craft projects on the go - the latest is crocheting plant pots!
Dana is an experienced researcher with deep expertise in neurodivergence.
Dana started her career in research, working on quantitative and qualitative projects at several leading UK research agencies. She developed her skills and scope to manage large quantitative international projects, with a primary focus on consumer, brand and advertising insights.
She then transitioned to working with neurodivergent individuals, mainly those on the autism spectrum. Dana holds a Masters in Autism from the Kent University. She supported individuals progress a wide range of skills that improve their independence and life quality both in the UK and Serbia.
She has consulted in many areas as an autism expert, including communication for young children, challenging behavior, social skills, living with support, sensory issues, as well as school and workplace inclusion. Through this work she collaborated closely with different experts such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and psychiatrists. She has delivered many training courses for professional organizations, as an ongoing effort to improve inclusion processes particularly in Serbia. She taught a module “Autism – approaches and intervention” to Psychology students at the Belgrade University of Singidunum.
Dana has worked for many years in both Serbia and the UK so has a good sense of some of the contextual and cultural differences that impact individual and societal outcomes.
When not working, Dana loves cooking for family and friends, walking, yoga and trying to finish one of many started books.
Location: United Kingdom
Josh is Open's Inclusive Innovation Programme Lead. He is leading our work on a grassroots inclusive innovation for an exciting global initiative being launched in 2022. He also works across the broader Open team on innovation projects we are working on internally and externally.
Prior to stepping into this significant innovation role, Josh had joined Open as our Lead for the Mobility / Dexterity Community. He still ensures that we remain aware of and up to date with the community's concerns, needs, and interests. With the other Community Leads, he continues to help co-design research to ensure that the needs of people with physical access needs are well-considered and incorporated in our work.
As a powered wheelchair user for the last 19 years, Josh got fed up with the lack of dignity, safety and comfort when flying by air and now produces award winning products to improve flying for wheelchair users around the globe, alongside other fantastic innovative products. He is an entrepreneur himself and the Founder and Director of Able Move.
His background is in technology and he takes every opportunity to work in research, design, and innovation on new cutting-edge products and services that look to enhance diverse opportunities and improve inclusive design and outcomes.
Josh has a competitive nature and loves to compete. He is currently on the talent and development squad for Great Britain in Air Rifle.
Location: Raleigh, USA
Ali leads Open Inclusion’s global community engagement and development. She is a disability strategist, advocate, and powerful, positive communicator.
Ali is based in the US and has extensive global experience having grown up, lived and worked around the world, including in China and Australia. In her role at Open, Ali helps us effectively develop valuable strong mutual relationships with individuals and community advocacy groups. This generates opportunities to those with valuable lived experiences to work, get involved in inclusive innovation initiatives, and engage in paid research opportunities. These support the community and help businesses better serve customers with disabilities and grow the inclusive capability of their organizations.
A popular podcast and blog guest, her advocacy efforts, which she continues to be involved with, have inspired countless individuals with disabilities to vocalize their needs and concerns. She is a highly experienced communicator having worked as a Managing Editor at a disability social network / mentoring organisation, SPINALpedia, and prior to that as a freelance writer. Ali was recently appointed to the Statewide Independent Living Council by North Carolina’s Governor Council. Additionally, she serves as board chair for Alliance of Disability Advocates, a Center for Independent Living. She uses her global partnerships with recognized organizations and foundations to strategically advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She also just recently won the advocacy competition Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2022. She will compete for Ms. Wheelchair America this summer.
Ali holds a Bachelor of Business Administration specialising in entrepreneurship from the Herbert Business School at the University of Miami.
Sarah has been with the Open Inclusion team almost from the beginning, helping in client and team management. She improves our delivery quality and clients’ experience as they engage with us for inclusive research or design solutions. Sarah brings a wealth of experience in business communication and systems management. With a global background and a degree in business, she has successfully worked in the third sector, finance and banking technologies, digital user experience, project management, and start-ups. Sarah ensures our clients and their projects are well managed from start to finish at Open.
Originally from the United States, Sarah is London based and has lived in Europe for almost two decades. She is an accomplished pianist, a travel enthusiast and a busy mother of three. In her spare time she loves to paint, ski, and listen to anything from Tchaikovsky.
Michael Nique is a technology expert with 12+ years experience in international development, specializing in the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities & digital accessibility.
Prior to joining Open, Michael was Senior Director for the FCDO-funded GSMA Assistive Tech programme, working with the mobile industry and key stakeholders to address the digital inclusion gap of persons with disabilities, and identify mobile innovation opportunities for Assistive Technology. Part of GSMA, Michael also spent time advising donors on their digital for development strategies, including a secondment to the DFAT Innovation XChange to support innovation across Australia’s aid programme. Michael holds a DEA (equivalent MSc) in Microelectronics from University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble (France).
Now based in London, Michael still loves the mountains, and regularly travels around the UK or heads back to France to climb, ski, or cycle with friends.
Alex is a strategic innovation specialist who has a breadth of experience in both commercial and social sectors.
He has a strong analytical background (he was at one time a research scientist for the Ministry of Defence) but over the past ten years has combined this skillset with a natural ability to challenge organisational constraints through customer-centred approaches and stimulate innovation in those around him. Alex developed expertise in customer research, innovation and proposition design which he utilized initially working with senior-level clients across a wide range of commercial sectors.
More recently, Alex has focused his work towards socially-minded organisations, where he continues to drive insight-led strategic change with a unique brand of thoughtful, challenging facilitation and proposition design.
When he is not working with Open he loves to cycle, ski and climb, or may just be enjoying cooking a meal for friends.
Aga is a junior user researcher and UX designer. Originally from Poland, she is curious about how people differ in terms of needs, cultures, preferences and behaviours. Previously, she worked with the Polish University Foundation for Autism, assisting in the development and assessment of group activities. Having moved countries and fields, she had a chance to work with people with different needs, backgrounds and cultures. This helped her to develop two very important traits: to be observant and adaptable. She has a background in psychology, customer service, and operations. Some of her previous experience involved medical care.
Over the past number of years, she has developed as a user experience researcher and inclusive designer. Aga is engaged in many aspects of supporting the research design and delivery at Open. She works across the business, helping the research team with quantitative and qualitative research planning and analysis.
Outside of work, Aga loves travel. At home she enjoys cooking plant-based meals, practicing yoga and listening to podcasts.
Location: United Kingdom
Jaine is responsible for keeping everything up to date and in good shape at Open Inclusion from a finance perspective. She works with the Managing Director and Operations team to ensure that we are running smoothly as a business. Jaine brings a strong and practical background in accounting and finance. She has been a Business Adviser for the Young Enterprise Company Challenge and successfully coached her team representing Wales in the UK final in 2015. She has written for various curriculums on finance and accounting and has marked external exams for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).
Jaine knows the value of presenting both the bigger picture as well as the detail, supporting strong business management. She also has a knack for being able to find the best and often simplest option for any issues. She loves what she does particularly due to the nature of Open’s business. Jaine supports a partner with a neurological disorder, so she has personal insight into the importance of inclusive environments, services, and products.
When she's not keeping track of all things financial, she loves learning new stuff. Just now she is learning DIY as she is currently renovating her home. She makes jam, sloe gin, and vodka and has the most adorable chocolate miniature poodle called Dylan Thomas Wills.
Joanne is Open's Community Leader for Fluctuating and Complex Conditions. She has lived experience of a fluctuating condition having lived with Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis for some time. Joanne is also a research professional with decades working in market research roles such as at Kantar, both in the UK and in Asia. She is a member of the UK Market Research Society.
She is also a well connected and active member of a number of disability community associations and an active advocate for inclusion. When not working or volunteering Jo enjoys time with her friends & family, especially going to live events (outside of COVID times!).
Lynn is an established Disability/Visual Equality Trainer, who has been working for nearly two decades with commercial, public and third sector organisations. With a wonderfully combined creative and technical background including a BA and MA in Fine Art as well as Mathematics and Computing degrees and experience, she has worked with major disability and arts organisations including Tate Britain & Modern, the Serpentine Gallery and The Ambassador Theatre Group.
She is the Open Inclusion lead for Visual Impairment community and has firsthand experience of disability through her own visual impairment. She is also experienced in other impairment perspectives, issues, technical and personal solutions through her integration with the other panel leads, and research undertaken, as well as qualifications in Equalities training and Life/Career coaching. Her passion is effective integration and inclusion for disabled people through increased business and community awareness, skills and confidence.
She has served for some time as trustee and then Chair of Extant and Vice-Chair of The Audio Description Association and Director of Disability and Inclusion for MAMOMI Initiative
Samantha represents the community of neurodiversity panel members who are involved with Open Inclusion by supporting them with their research and making their roles interesting and exciting where possible. Samantha also provides advice to Open Inclusion on access needs in all the dys’s (dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia) as well as autism spectrum and other learning and cognitive diversity. She keeps our team and panel up-to-date with relevant and interesting recent news, new policies in these communities, as well as bringing insights into new research, new assistive technology and other adaptive tools.
Samantha has dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADD herself, she was diagnosed when she was 16, not long after this she got involved with in her local dyslexia charity “dyslexia association of Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham” with which she was, until recently, a trustee of for over 10 years. Samantha also has an MA in disability studies and has worked in the disability third sector for over 11 years, as well as sitting on advisory group for people with Aphasia who looked at if technology could provide them access to a community, and the British Dyslexia Association New Technology committee. Samantha current role is working for the RSA as Head of Fellowship Services.
When Samantha is not working, she normally is listening to Rod Stewart, (the love of her life) or watching F1 while knitting or sewing. In addition to these hobbies Samantha loves holidaying with her partner, particularly to South East Asia.
Edward J Richards
Edward is a Community Lead helping us consider research design and outcomes through the perspectives of people with hearing loss and BSL users. He also keeps us up to date with new or changing issues, challenges, interests and practices across this community.
As a native Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user Edward can understand potential barriers from a deaf perspective and suggest solutions. Edward is a strong advocate for equality and sits on various forums, committees and access advisory panels within the Health, Council, Museums and Galleries sectors. He has also sat on a major NHS procurement panel with his expertise as a deaf service user. When not working with Open, Edward is a Director of Cutting Edge Design. Originally he worked as an IT software programmer before moving to design. He has a passion for inclusion, and loves looking at issues and thinking about how to resolve them through design and technology.
He enjoys sports and ten years ago, returned to playing his favourite sport, hockey and became a qualified Level 1 Umpire earlier in 2016. He is the Captain of Wapping Hockey Club MX (known as the X-Men) team. He regularly put himself forward to challenge his own abilities which has allowed him to do things he never thought he would, including being part of the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony aerial team in 2012. He regularly gives talks using BSL in museums and galleries across London.
Location: (United States)
Jonathan works as a Director for an Accessibility Advisory Service Social enterprise. He has a wealth of international experience in accessibility of the built environment, accessible transportation, and creating accessible policies and guidelines for the workplace. Jonathan is neurodiverse and an advocate for people with disabilities and he is passionate at ensuring people remain part of their community for as long as possible, by adopting a holistic approach towards meaningful access. Jonathan has a Masters in Business Management and is a Professional Member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. He also serves as the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit for the Toronto Transit Commission.
Location: (United States)
Allie Schmidt worked in corporate marketing, for six years before becoming disabled from a rare, neurological disorder. While she’s grateful for the experience, she always knew entrepreneurship was her true passion.
In March 2020, she launched Disability Dame, a website that gives tips to moms with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Seeing, firsthand, the inequalities that exist within the disability community has compelled her to use her voice for change. She’s active on social media and creates content that’s generated thousands of followers and videos with over 1 M views.
She’s also passionate about helping the lives of all people with disabilities and recently completed the TN Partners in Policymaking Institute program that teaches people with intellectual disabilities and their caregiver advocacy skills.
She’s currently focusing on ALS research, where she threw a fundraiser that resulted in over 100 donors and $44,000 in funding. In addition, she consults with large-scale brands and startups on how to create more accessible product design and marketing for people with disabilities. She’s excited to be a part of the Open Inclusion team and hopes that she can help amplify the voices of people with disabilities and create a more accessible world for all.
When she isn’t working, you can find her going for walks around the neighbourhood with her family, travelling, reading and catching up on the latest episode of The Real Housewives.
Location: (United States)
Meryl Evans is a professional speaker, trainer, author, and accessibility consultant. She's a member of the XR Access and W3C Immersive Captions groups. She's also the co-host of A11yNYC and A11yVR Meetups on accessibility and virtual reality. Meryl is a highly regarded speaker on diversity, equity, and inclusion who focuses on people with disabilities and accessibility. She has spoken at many events including axe-con, ID24, AccessU, and TEDx. She's a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). Be sure to follow her on LinkedIn as she's one of 12 people who are LinkedIn Top Voices for Disability Advocacy.
Emma Muldoon is the Open Inclusion lead for the mobility and dexterity community. She is also the founder and writer of one of the UK’s leading and award-winning accessible travel and disability blogs, ‘Simply Emma’ where she shares her love of travel as well as highlighting the accessibility barriers disabled people face whilst travelling. As a full-time powered wheelchair user, she aims to use her lived experiences to challenge public attitudes and misconceptions while helping create positive change for the disabled community.
Another area of Emma’s work is freelance writing and campaigning for disability inclusion. She has written articles for various magazines, websites, organisations, and charities both online and in print as well as working with the Motability Scheme, Visit Scotland, BBC Scotland News and the Scottish Government.
Emma also manages the social media platforms for disability charity Vehicle for Change (Mobiloo), which provide vital mobile changing places toilets for disabled children and adults to ensure they are not excluded from events due to a lack of adequate toilet and changing facilities.
Emma has been awarded the ‘Points of Light’ by the Prime Minister in recognition of her service in promoting accessible travel opportunities for disabled people as well as being named amongst the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK by The Shaw Trust Power 100.
When not working, you will find Emma travelling around the UK, exploring the beautiful Scottish outdoors with her partner and family or going to live events. But she also loves her rest at home spending time in her garden, watching movies and cross-stitching.
Juliette leads the mental health community at Open Inclusion. She is also an ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness and runs training and consultancy on mental illness and disability. She is however best known as a comedian and actress, using her talent for writing and performing comedy to bring this stigmatised area of disability to people's awareness and help us think about it differently, while being entertained. She has performed sold out one-woman shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for over 5 years and has won many awards for her performances. Juliette has also written on mental illness, health and disability for The Independent, Huffington Post, BBC News, Cosmopolitan and Metro Online.
Location: Georgia (United States)
Alesha Savanna leads the mobility community in the United States at Open Inclusion. Alesha was born and raised in California for the most part but a Georgia native for many years. Alesha was injured in an automobile accident leaving her with a T 10-11 spinal cord injury on NYE 2018. However, becoming disabled not only saved her life but changed her life! Alesha now lives and encourages everyone else around her to do the same! Alesha loves to travel, try new things, and empower people. In 2022, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Georgia and dived head first into the community and advocacy! Encouraging not only the people within her communities but the world that disability is not a curse! It’s the lack of an inclusive society!
"I am super excited to be a part of the Open team to further help initiate change around the world!"
Location: (United States)
Sydney represents people with Chronic Health Conditions as a panel Lead for Open Inclusion. Sydney was born with a Mitochondrial Disorder that impacts her balance, speech, vision, and walking. Her passion is to help people with disabilities live independent and inclusive lives.
In addition to being a Panel Lead for Open Inclusion, Sydney is also a manager at the Alliance of Disability Advocates. Sydney has worked at the Alliance of Disability Advocates for over four years in various capacities, including providing direct services to consumers, providing resources to callers, and managing programs.
In Sydney’s free time, she enjoys riding her three-wheel bike, being with family/friends, and playing board games.
Location: East of England
David represents the community of older adult panel members over 60, who are also the fastest growing population in the UK. As an older person himself, David believes passionately that ageing is not an illness and, while aspects of ageing can be challenging, older people are an integral part of our society, and should be included in all aspects of life. Digital technologies are now an intrinsic part of our lives, in our communications and relationships with others, and are central to how we carry out our daily activities and how we spend our spare time. Over half of the over 65s in the country are adopting a digital lifestyle. The challenge is to ensure that others are not left behind.
David has enjoyed a varied career, from teaching Chemistry, through a commission in the Royal Air Force to 20 years of senior management experience in the Third Sector, the last eight years with Age UK. David has a passion for helping older people to enjoy the benefits of digital technologies by overcoming often very real barriers to access the benefits that being online can bring to all aspects of their lives.
When David is not working, he likes holidays in Italy, and struggling with the language; he is also busily exploring his new surroundings in Cambridgeshire.
Martin has been making the built environment more inclusive since 2001. He originally trained as a building surveyor before undertaking an MSc in Accessibility and Inclusive Design. Martin has core expertise in the details of the British Standards, Building Regulations and the Equality Act 2010. Driving forward the inclusive environment agenda with estates managers, architects and other property professionals is where he is happiest.
He has provided expert advisory services for disputes under the Equality Act and contractual disputes regarding accessibility. He has developed particular experience with heritage environments having advised on World Heritage Sites, Scheduled Ancient Monuments and dozens of listed buildings. He’s currently working on projects for clients including St Paul’s Cathedral, English Heritage, Lincoln Cathedral and a variety of other Heritage Lottery funded projects. As well as being a member of the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) he is an active member of several organisations including the British Standards committee responsible for BS8300, the RICS working group on inclusive environments and the Access Association.
Outside of his professional work, he loves nothing more than a night under canvas, preferably at a music festival. That is if he can persuade his wife and children that it really is warm enough!
Yacoob is passionate about all things inclusive and accessible, always looking for new and improved ways of simply making systems and processes available for as many people as possible. Having worked closely with a wide range of users he’s slightly obsessed with the variety and quality of user journeys and experience! Backed with some theory from having completed a Master’s Degree in Digital Inclusion and many years practicing making it real, he is now usefully dangerous in his mission to eliminate bad or broken journeys from the world around him.
With experience in Government, Policy and Strategy, corporate client-facing roles and several years prior IT experience, Yacoob always looks to balance business and customer needs to ensure a practical way forward.
A self-confessed geeky dad (and Sci-Fi addict), he’s always looking for new ideas, innovations or methods to identify how we can reduce the digital divide, help those that most need it and ensure all can appreciate the fun and function of a connected world.
Graham has a web developer background, and has been involved with web accessibility for the last 15 years. He has built, or contributed to accessible websites for many large organisations and charities – including HSBC, RBS, NatWest, Tesco Compare, Citizens Online and ALLIANCE Scotland. He has also performed web accessibility reviews for many organisations – reporting on their websites' compliance to WCAG 2.0 standards.
When developing accessible websites, Graham uses WordPress. He is a member of the Make WordPress Accessible Team – a group of volunteers who use their knowledge and influence to improve the accessibility of the world's most popular CMS.
Graham likes to spread the word on accessibility and has trained designers and developers on accessibility techniques across the globe – both in formal training courses, and in more informal workshops, and through numerous presentations and webinars.
At rest, Graham can often be found performing his own songs at open-mic nights in his local area, or recording his next album.
If you like our approach and ethos, and share our passion to create Open experiences, we’d love to hear from you.
Great people make our business and we are on the lookout for some more. We don’t want clones. We are already hugely diverse in backgrounds. You could have a background in accessibility, UX, research, design, development or project management. However our bar is unashamedly high. We are looking for remarkable people with an ability to build our business, and that of our clients, to impact users in extraordinary ways.
Please contact us if you think you may fit the bill.
Open Inclusion is a proudly inclusive employer
We are a “Disability Confident – Employer” as verified by the UK Government Disability Confident Scheme. More than 50% of our staff have a stated disability, and we have a work environment, culture and processes that easily adapt to differing physical, sensory and cognitive requirements. 10% of our team members are over 60, so incorporating older employees’ needs and preferences is also something we appreciate and value.
If you are considering working with Open and have specific access needs or work preferences, please be assured that it is your abilities we are focussed on and how well those match our organisation’s needs. We are seeking great talent. If there is fit, we will make it work!