Why do we need another Accessibility Qualification

Why do we need another “Accessibility Qualification”?

Neil Eustice headshot
Neil Eustice  |  11.1.19
Diversity & Knowledge Manager KPMG

The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) are looking to create a new qualification for a Strategic Leader in Accessibility. How will this help you and your business?

Depending on the size of your business and how far you are along in the development of being a truly accessible business, you may have people already qualified in aspects of accessibility. For example, you may have a member of staff who is an IAAP Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). This is the IAAP's foundational certification, representing broad, cross-disciplinary conceptual knowledge about 1) disabilities, 2) accessibility and universal design, and 3) accessibility-related standards, laws, and management strategies.

If you employ your own developers for Web-based products, you may have one or more IAAP qualified Web Accessibility Specialists (WAS). This is a technical level qualification for an individual with at least an intermediate level of detailed technical knowledge about the WCAG guidelines and other related web accessibility topics. These are the people who have regular hands-on experience in identifying and remediating accessibility issues in code.

If you are lucky enough to have someone that has passed both exams, then they are considered a Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA).

So how does this new qualification differ? What benefit would it bring if you had someone that was considered a Strategic Leader in Accessibility?

Well, the first two qualifications may be held by people in particular roles, but that role is unlikely to be one that is influential toward the board or that drives company policy and decisions that can help improve the overall accessibility of a business. These qualified people tend to generally concentrate more on the Information Technology side of accessibility to ensure that what they produce meets the relevant guidelines/complies with the local laws relating to their products.

What seems to be missing currently is a qualified position that proves that the holder not only has a good understanding of accessibility in the information technology world – but also understands what the business should be doing to make them truly accessible to all. A qualified Strategic Leader in Accessibility would understand how all parts of the business need to work toward being accessible and what the financial impact of that would be. They would be able to report that information to the board of the company in a compelling way and be able to influence company policy. They would be able to look at all aspects of the business, from the Facilities department (how heavy are the doors? Can they be opened by someone with limited strength? How high are the sinks? Can they be reached by someone of shorter stature or in a wheelchair?), to HR/People departments (How accessible is the onboarding process? What policies are in place for adjustments?), to Printing/Reporting (Does the business supply information in accessible formats?).

By gaining this new qualification, you would prove you have the ability to be able to help drive your business toward true accessibility, to get your business to “Lead from the front”.

About the Blogger

Neil Eustice Bio

Diversity & Knowledge Manager in KPMG UK LLP. I became interested in accessibility around 12 years ago when I used to sit behind the IT Purchasing team and heard many conversations about disabled employees having trouble with one thing and another - and the IT Purchasing team struggling to find all the answers at the time as to how they could help the caller overcome those issues.

I started investigating assistive technology and inbuilt options in the operating system that people could make and after a while approached our CIO and said, “We need to do more for our disabled staff”. Unbeknown to me, our CIO had just received an invitation to join a fledgling group called the Technology Taskforce (an offshoot of the Business Disability Forum). I went to my first meeting and have represented KPMG on the Technology Taskforce ever since.

I have been the lead for the documentation stream of the taskforce, developing and updating useful documentation for members and others to utilise – helping to share advice on the many aspects of how to make your business more accessible.

I also sit on an internal committee for disabled staff and have helped to compile our submissions which have seen KPMG be awarded two silver medals in the BDF Disability Standard and awarded Leader status in the UK Government Disability Confident scheme.

I am a reasonably new member to the IAAP and am currently studying for my CPACC exam.
As part of their investigations and taskforce initiatives to explore the potential of this certification, IAAP has opened a Community of Practice through its IAAP Connections platform to further the discussion and receive direct feedback from its membership. In order to take part in the Community of Practice individuals must be either a professional or organizational member of IAAP. Please visit the IAAP membership/benefits page to review membership options or contact IAAP directly at membership@accessibilityassociation.org.


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