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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media


Establishing a Professional Benchmark with Accessibility Certification

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How do we ensure that companies and clients looking for qualified and specific accessibility knowledge base get access to the right professional? Robert Pearson highlights an important resource of the IAAP.

Accessibility certification is an important step towards achieving a knowledge base

Image: An accessibility certification from an industry organization is the first step toward setting up a knowledge bas.

If you are in the business of offering accessibility services through your company or an accessibility expert yourself, how do you deal with a client’s question of whether you are the expert in the field? Do we have an industry established degree, certificate or recognition that ascertains your skill sets or capability? Of course, testimonials and a portfolio that highlights successfully completed projects are indicators of your acumen, however, what if you are just starting out? Being a young industry in turn, we have struggled with this question and help is forthcoming from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), who plan no launching the Associate Level Certification Exam for Accessibility.

"The associate certification is the core foundation credential, and is conceptual in nature, rather than technical. This credential is appropriate for anyone in a wide variety of accessibility fields, including those who deal with accessibility on the web, in software design, in transportation systems, in architecture, web accessibility, software design, transportation systems, architectural spaces, consumer product design, industrial design, automotive design, and other fields. In other words, the intent of this first credential is to create a common base of knowledge across accessibility domains, to ensure that accessibility professionals can speak with a common vocabulary and be aware of the important over-arching concepts of accessibility across domains. In fact, we want to encourage cross-domain thinking and cross-domain problem solving.

For those who oversee accessibility projects or initiatives (program managers, product managers, project managers, business analysts, executives, salespeople, customer service representatives, etc.) this first credential will likely be the only accessibility credential they need."

Overall, this exam will cover the three following broad topics.

  1. Disabilities, Challenges and Assistive Technologies
  2. Accessibility and Universal Design
  3. Declarations, Standards, Laws, and Management Strategies

Clients may not be completely satisfied with utilizing only the three broad topics of examination as sufficiently being representative of the field of accessibility. The IAAP has worked with industry and accessibility "pioneers" to build this base. While the context of the knowledge required for certification may vary based upon experience, it’s necessary that a base be established in order to move forward. If we are to flourish, we must standardize our practices in order to achieve viability.

What’s the outcome we are looking for?

The practice of accessibility has evolved so that standardization of the knowledge base is required. The number of professionals within the practice is small and for those of us who were there in the beginning, acquiring this credential may not be a priority. However, as our numbers grow, and they must in order to accommodate demand, having this credential will allow for assurances by those seeking guidance that a basic professional benchmark of knowledge base has been achieved.

As a founding member of the IAAP, Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is committed to the certification process developed by the IAAP. The Associate Level Certification is only the initial step.  Next will come one focused around Web Accessibility and we see the need for one focused on Media Accessibility beyond that.


Related Resources

Blog: Teaching Accessibility - How a New Initiative is Proving Inspirational for Professionals to Focus on ICT in Education | Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report | Download G3ict Report.