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Re: IAAP Certification Update


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Sep 11, 2015 5:27PM


I'm engaging in this conversation precisely because I want to help clarify
the purpose of the IAAP with respect to certification. I recognize that
there is a need for more clarity and transparency. So I'm here to offer
that, at least to the extent that I can. I can't speak authoritatively
about every part of the IAAP, as I'm not involved in every aspect of what
they're doing.

Let me summarize some of the main goals of the IAAP as I see them:

- To organize a community of practice within the accessibility
profession. This includes an online discussion forum, networking with other
IAAP members, etc.
- To provide regular updates and news items related to the accessibility
profession. The IAAP has had a regular email newsletter in place since the
IAAP was established. These include both original articles and links to
external resources.
- To offer formal professional development opportunities such as
webinars, conferences, courses, etc. The IAAP has been offering webinars
for quite some time now, and there is a conference in Nevada in October.
- To offer a certification program. The certification serves several
purposes. For example:
- To provide a definition of what it means to be an accessibility
- To provide a sense of legitimacy to the accessibility profession in
the eyes of employers and higher education programs
- To provide a way for accessibility professionals to provide proof
of their own knowledge and skills to potential employers
- To provide employers with a way to help evaluate and distinguish
the skills of job candidates
- To raise the bar in the accessibility professional overall by
giving people an incentive to study and then pass a rigorous test

The above list is not all inclusive, but it touches on some of the main

Regarding the use of certification in the employment and hiring process,
employers have frequently lamented that it is very hard to find qualified
accessibility professionals. Not enough people know accessibility well. We
need more accessibility experts.

Beyond that, many of the people who claim to have accessibility skills
often do not know enough. Employers don't have a good way of distinguishing
people who are very skilled versus those who have only some skills or
awareness. The employer could create their own exam for internal purposes
-- and some have done exactly that -- but it is an unnecessary duplication
of effort if every employer does that. A professional certification
provides a common metric.

I would expect employers to use a variety of methods to determine
eligibility for a job: references, educational background, job experience,
publications, and professional certifications. They won't rely only on
certification, for example. Some employers may eventually require their
employees in accessibility roles to receive IAAP certification, and they
may require it as a condition of employment... or they may not. The IAAP
can't dictate how the certification will be used. The IAAP can offer it as
a part of the bigger picture, but it's certainly not the whole picture.

Some accessibility professionals who have been in the field for a long time
may never be certified, and that's fine. Their reputation may be enough to
secure their employment through the end of their career. But they are
certainly welcome to take the exam and receive the certification if they
want to.

I expect that the value of the certification will be higher for those with
less experience in the field, because they don't have as much of a
reputation or work history yet.

And the certification needs to be renewed every three years, to ensure that
the professional stays up to date with the field. They will not take the
test again. They will instead receive continuing education credits for
classes, courses, workshops, presentations, and other activities.

I'm actually quite enthusiastic about the possibilities of IAAP
certification, and I know that many employers at large companies are
looking forward to the certification one way (among several) to ensure
their employees learn what they need to learn about accessibility to be
able to adequately perform their jobs.
But do I think it's going to "solve everything" as your email said? No, not
really. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. I see certification as a
necessary piece in that puzzle, but it's not the whole puzzle.

Paul Bohman, PhD
Director of Training, Deque Systems, Inc
703-225-0380, ext.121