Professional Development

Professional Development Framework

IAAP has developed and implemented a professional development framework program to provide professionals working in accessibility and those interested in knowing more about accessibility the knowledge they need to ensure they have the ability to influence and implement accessibility within their organization.

The framework of competencies and roles is not a class syllabus, test plan, or job description in and of itself, but has to be flexible enough to support all of these and more. It serves as the formation model for crafting certification and educational programs for members. IAAP will create training and will also be recommending outside training to gain the knowledge and skills needed for their domain and role. More generally, the competencies framework can be used with external stakeholders to advance accessibility, including educators, standards developers, and governmental policymakers.

If you would like more information about the activities around Professional Development, or if you would like to provide input to the Individual Professional Development (IPD) Committee, become an IAAP member and visit the IPD Committee page.

Knowledge Domains and Roles

The need for knowledge and expertise in accessibility crosses many domains and roles within those domains. In fact, accessibility impacts nearly every domain that involves products, technologies, processes, or people. Here are some of the key areas identified by IAAP:

Knowledge Domains:

  • Digital Technologies:
    • Web (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ARIA, SVG, HTML5 Canvas etc.)
    • Graphic and Interaction Design
    • Personalized access (IndieUI, Access4All,, APIP)
    • Multimedia (video, audio, captions, transcripts, audio descriptions)
    • Software (applications native to the operating system, desktop/mobile, including Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS, Android, Java, etc.)
    • Platform
    • Hardware (computers, phones, PDAs, televisions, remote controls, printers, etc.)
    • Electronic documents (ebooks/ePub, MS Office, PDF, Google Docs, ODF etc.)
    • Telecommunications and voice systems/interfaces
    • Networking
    • Security (DRM, biometrics)
    • Quality Assurance
  • Consumer and Industrial Design:
    • Household items (kitchen appliances/utensils/implements, furniture)
    • Medical equipment and prosthetics
    • Clothing
    • Industrial/consumer equipment and tools (smart wearable devices, NEST etc.)
    • Personal transportation (cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.)
    • Public/mass transportation (subways, airplanes, trains, etc.)
    • Packaging
  • Customer Service and Hospitality
  • Architecture and the Built Environment:
    • Physical Architecture
    • Landscape architecture
    • Urban planning
    • Interior design
  • Disability Accommodations and Assistive Technology:
    • Education
    • Workplace
    • Household


  • Manager (executive leadership, chief technology officer, program, project)
  • Procurement specialist
  • Communications specialist/marketer/public relations
  • Business/systems analyst
  • Data/information architect/user experience
  • Architect/planner
  • User researcher
  • Designer
  • Developer/engineer
  • Content creator/editor
  • Quality control/quality assurance (QA) specialist
  • Accessibility specialist / tester
  • IT Accommodations Specialist
  • Accessible Media Specialist
  • Policy and standards specialist
  • Government policy/decision maker
  • Research & development (R&D) and design specialist
  • Legal/regulatory compliance specialist
  • Human resources
  • Customer service specialist
  • Instructor/trainer/professor/teacher


Competencies will define the knowledge skills and understanding needed for a particular domain and role. The goal is to define a repository of knowledge (information) required for a particular role within a domain and the skills needed to apply that knowledge in an effective manner to achieve an understanding of underlying accessibility principles.

Core Competencies (applies to all roles and domains)

  • Define accessibility
  • Identify disability types and needs of people of disabilities
  • Knowledge of tools, equipment, and technologies used to help individuals with disabilities use computer equipment and software
  • Know the difference between usability, universal design, and accessibility
  • Explain what assistive technologies are and how they are used
  • Describe the corporate / local accessibility guidelines for accessibility
  • Describe the national, regional and international guidelines, standards and laws relating to accessibility
  • Explain the business case for accessibility

Knowledge Domain Competencies

Current Status: The competencies listed are a work-in-progress and the IDP Committee is seeking your feedback and would like your involvement in defining competencies in the other knowledge domains under digital technologies .

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