Bouquette Kabatepe, Digital Accessibility Officer, ICT

“Even before it was called digital accessibility, I was involved with making things more user-friendly.” 

I have been the Digital Accessibility Officer at Imperial since 2020, where I coordinate our digital accessibility compliance efforts. Reporting to the Head of Governance in ICT, my role involves policy and risk management, raising accessibility awareness, digital accessibility compliance approvals, stakeholder engagement, and providing advice and support on accessibility compliance. 

By engaging with high-level decision-makers, including digital teams across the university, ICT product line teams, student support services and teaching technology staff, I have been working towards embedding best practice in inclusive digital design throughout the institution. 

I have a bachelor’s degree on economics and politics, which feels like a century ago now. I am interested in cultures and language – and I speak a few languages. I have lived and worked in Turkey, Austria, Russia and the UK, in a variety of roles from account management to leading high-octane sales teams. I have also worked in project management and mid- to top- management roles for non-governmental organisations and campaigning. My experience was that competitive industries aren’t always equal or inclusive, so I moved to the third sector which aligned more with my personal values. Knowing that my efforts were helping change people’s lives was much more fulfilling than adding to a corporation’s profits. 

I find it inspiring and energising working with and for young people, so I moved to higher education on a contracting opportunity. Even before it was called digital accessibility, I was involved with making things more user-friendly. I was aware that people sometimes struggle with certain barriers, whether physical or digital, and observed how it was better for everyone when things were made more accessible.  

When I came across the (then new) Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations in 2017-18, I decided to learn HTML at the ripe age of 46 – and I’ve never looked back. I work with anyone and everyone at Imperial: people setting up new websites, purchasing new software, developing in-house solutions or managing web-based or digital apps. We are all required to ensure our digital presence is accessible to all, so please contact me if you need any support with this. 

The Imperial Values that most resonate with me are innovation and respect. I think that only when we truly respect everything and everyone around us – including ourselves – do our achievements become meaningful. Only then can we have a demonstrable social and economic impact worldwide, and only then we can be truly inclusive, with equity and diversity as the natural outcomes. Innovation is the way forward to achieving what we set our minds to. For example, AI excites me – wouldn’t it be great if we could all create accessible content with a simple AI function, whatever our tech capabilities are?  

My dream scenario is that I’m no longer needed at Imperial because our presence is fully accessible and inclusive for all. I would love to see Imperial become the most accessible and inclusive university in the world, with a culture that truly embraces our values and everyday practices that have diversity and inclusivity at their heart. 

Read more about Bouquette in the Women in ICT blog. 

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