Certified Professional in Accessible Built Environments (CPABE) Levels

IAAP CPABE Certified badge; dark blue inner circle with orange outer circle
The CPABE program offers three certifications levels: 

  • Level 1 - Associate Accessibility Professional
  • Level 2 - Advanced Accessibility Professional
  • Level 3 - Expert Accessibility Professional

Level 1 - Associate Accessibility Professional 

The candidates for Level 1 CPABE may be new to the profession (3-5 years) or have a new focus on accessibility as a design/building professional.  While Universal Design is the preferred methodology to ensuring accessible spaces for all, this certification candidate may still be building their universal design knowledge and experience while currently removing barriers to accessibility. 

The Associate Accessibility Professional is expected to:  

  • Have a variety of work experience in the assessment/audit field 
  • Have limited building specialization 
  • Have the ability to make accessibility recommendations within the built environment broadly addressing multiple disabilities, perhaps with a specialization or focus in a specific type of disability

The Associate Accessibility Professional will be able to:

  • Conduct accessibility assessments/audits of the built environment and/or drawing reviews and issue general comments and basic recommendations to remove accessibility barriers and enhance the built environment to better meet the needs of the building’s occupants and visitors

Diversity of Experience and Specialization:  

The Associate Accessibility Consultant will have experience in at least one (1) of the following:
  • Disability specific buildings (day-program centers, rehabilitation facilities)
  • Housing (Single homes, multi-family dwellings, apartments) 
  • Commercial and Mercantile (Retail, banking, offices) 

Understanding of Legislation and Standards: 

  • Knowledge of related national and provincial/state legislation, standards, and accessibility best practices  

Other Experience that Supports Candidate Certification Success:

  • Completion of a degree (architecture, engineering) or formal accredited accessibility or universal design education is considered an asset 
  • Formal accessibility training considered an asset 
  • Attendance at workshops, lectures, conferences, or other informal education activities considered an asset
  • Accessibility and Universal Design-related presentations, publications, lectures and/or teaching-training activities considered an asset 
  • ISO standard 21542 knowledge considered an asset 
  • UN CRPD knowledge considered an asset

Level 2 - Advanced Accessibility Professional 

The candidates for Level 2 CPABE are expected to be established practioners (5 – 10 years) as an accessibility professional or professional with a focus of Universal Design in their chosen field (architect, engineers, urban planner, etc).  

The Advanced Accessibility Professional is expected to: 

  • Work in a wide variety of assessments, audits, reporting, and providing Universal Design recommendations
  • Have a solid base of experience in more than one building type, with or without specialization, and is able to consider the specific needs of a wide range of abilities and disabilities

The Advanced Accessibility Professional will be able to: 

  • Conduct accessibility audits of the built environment and drawing reviews in order to issue recommendations using a Universal Design approach
  • Participate in the design process of new or retrofit/existing building projects
  • Contribute to projects involving some or all of the following:
    • Detailed drawing development providing technical data and specifications regarding accessibility codes/standards and best practices
    • Universal Design of public spaces associated with a site
    • Wayfinding, lightning, or acoustic requirements
    • Fire, Health, Safety and Emergency egress requirements, specifically for people with disabilities
  • Diversity of Experience and Specialization
  • Candidate would be expected to have experience related to at least four (4) of the following building types: 
    • Arts and Culture (museums, galleries, music halls, movie theatres, auditoriums etc.) 
    • Commercial and Mercantile (Retail, banking, offices) 
    • Disability specific built environments (day-program centers, rehabilitation facilities)
    • Education (Schools, Universities, Colleges) 
    • Healthcare 
    • Historic/heritage built environments, facilities or environments 
    • Hospitality (Hotels, Motels, Catering, Conference Venues, Auditoriums)
    • Housing (Single homes, multi-family dwellings, apartments) 
    • Landscape design  
    • Leisure and Sports (Recreation facilities, Stadiums, Arenas, etc.)
    • Manufacturing/industrial 
    • (Churches, Chapels, etc) 
    • Municipal built environments (Libraries,police stations, court houses and fire houses)  
    • Natural and outdoors areas (park, beaches, picnic, etc.)
    • Places of Worship  
    • Tourism facilities (Variety of outdoor/indoor tourist attractions)  
    • Transport environments (airports, railway and bus stations, ferry terminals etc.) 
    • Play environments and structures 
    • Urban Design

Understanding of Legislation and Standards: 

  • Knowledge of related national and provincial/state legislation 
  • Working knowledge of standards/codes/best practices regarding fire/life safety and emergency evacuation requirements  
  • Knowledge of a range of international accessibility standards and Universal Design best practices to be applied when no code or standard exists 
  • Knowledge of the UN CRPD

Other Experience that Supports Candidate Certification Success: 

  • Experience participating in standards development and/or design guidelines would be considered an asset 
  • ISO standard 21542 and other related ISO standards knowledge considered an asset 
  • Knowledge of international disabled people’s rights international documents (IE: ILO labor related documents, etc.) considered an asset 
  • Completion of a degree (architecture, engineering) or formal accredited education is considered an asset
  • Formal universal design training considered an asset 
  • Participation as an attendee in related workshops, lectures, conferences, or other informal education activities considered an asset
  • Universal design and accessibility related presentations, publications, lectures and/or teaching-training activities considered an asset 

Level 3 - Expert Accessibility Professional 

The candidates for Level 3 CPABE are expected to have a well-established practice of 10+ years as an accessibility professional or professional with a focus of Universal Design in their chosen field (architect, engineers, urban planner, etc). The candidate should demonstrate leadership in the field of accessibility either through development of policy and/or standards or through sharing their knowledge and supporting the professional development of other accessibility professionals. 

The Expert Accessibility Professional is expected to: 

  • Work in all areas of design, assessment, policy development, and training
  • Have a wide range of Universal Design experience in a variety of building types, and is able to consider the whole range of human functioning to assess the needs of the majority of abilities and types of disabilities

The Expert Accessibility Professional will be able to: 

  • Conduct accessibility assessments/audits of the built environment including aspects of operational and management procedures to be able to issue comprehensive and well-structured reports, referencing technical specifications and making operational recommendations using a Universal Design approach
  • Conduct reviews of complex drawing plans, issuing comprehensive recommendations, referencing technical specifications as well as operational considerations, using a Universal Design approach 
  • Participate in interdisciplinary work with complex interactions between design teams, public and private partnerships, in major facilities such as transportation, healthcare, arts and culture 
  • Contribute to projects involving some or all of the following:
    • Detailed drawing development providing technical data and specifications regarding accessibility codes/standards
    • Accessible design of public spaces associated with a site 
    • Transportation systems and environments 
    • Wayfinding, lightning, information systems or acoustic requirements 
    • Standard and/or Guideline development 
    • Standards/codes/best practices regarding fire/life, health, safety and emergency egress and emergency evacuation requirements for a variety of built environments  
    • Demonstrate participation in policy/standard/codes/guidelines/regulations development 

Diversity of Experience and Specialization: 

At least six (6) of the following must be demonstrated in a portfolio submission to the IAAP Expert Panel:
  • Arts and Culture (museums, galleries, music halls, movie theatres, auditoriums etc.) 
  • Commercial and Mercantile (Retail, banking, offices)
  • Disability specific built environment(day-program centers, rehabilitation facilities) 
  • Education (Schools, Universities, Colleges) 
  • Healthcare facilities 
  • Historic/heritage  built environment, facilities or environments 
  • Hospitality (Hotels, Motels, Catering, Conference Venues, Auditoriums) 
  • Housing (Single homes, multi-family dwellings, apartments) 
  • Landscape design 
  • Leisure and Sports (Recreation facilities, Stadiums, Arenas, play areas, etc.) 
  • Manufacturing/industrial 
  • Natural and Outdoor areas (park, beaches, picnic, play environments and structures, etc.)
  • Places of Worship(e.g. churches, chapels, and mosques)  
  • Transport environments (airports, railway and bus stations, ferry terminals etc.)
  • Municipal  built environment (e.g. libraries, police stations, court houses and fire houses) 
  • Urban Design 

Understanding of Legislation and Standards:  

  • Working knowledge of International legislation and standards 
  • Knowledge of related national and provincial/state legislation
  • UN CRPD knowledge is mandatory 
  • ISO standard 21542 and other ISO accessibility standards (accessible signage and TWSI) knowledge is mandatory 
  • Knowledge of international declarations, treaties, etc related to the rights of persons with disabilities (e.g. ILO labor related documents, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, DDA ) is mandatory 
  • Knowledge of a range of accessibility standards from around the world is mandatory: at least two more than the country of residence is required especially for candidates of countries without existing local standards/codes. 
  • Working knowledge and/or implementation of accessible emergency egress is mandatory 
  • Other accessibility/disability related regulations (i.e.: health, labor code, education related regulation or codes that involve accessibility) is mandatory

Other Experience that Supports Candidate Certification Success:

  • Completion of a degree (architecture, engineering) or formal accredited education is considered an asset 
  • Formal universal design training considered an asset 
  • Participation as attendee in related workshops, lectures, conferences or other informal education activities considered an asset
  • Creating universal design and accessibility related presentations, publications, lectures, and/or teaching-training activities considered an asset 

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