Certification of accessibility experts
Very few developers, designers and editors learn accessibility during their university studies. Even fewer get a test methodology or deeper understanding of what it takes to work in the field. Those who want to specialize will have to either look for jobs with companies that work with accessibility or learn on their own.
This leads to several problems:
- Companies and organizations that wish to recruit accessibility experts have a hard time finding the right skills
- Companies and organizations that want to buy accessibility services have a hard time knowing which ones are good
- People who want to work with accessibility have difficulties proving that they are good
Lack of skilled expertise makes it difficult for website owners who want to make the right thing to be successful. It is hardly surprising that the web interfaces are still inaccessible.
While there is a shortage of qualified experts, demand, and thus the demand for knowledge, is increasing, says Susanna Laurin, CEO of Funka. Not least because of the EU legislation. We simply have to do something about this.
The international Association for Accessibility Professionals, IAAP, was formed to address these problems, through certification among other things. The idea is that certification should serve as a guarantee of quality when procuring or recruiting and a carrot for universities who would have a good reason to put accessibility into their curriculum.
Certification is growing and developing
Creating an accredited certification is a long process, but the work must be done thoroughly for the certification to be recognized and serve its purpose. The existing certification has had little impact in Europe so far, since it has had such a strong focus on the US. For international experts like Funka, this is hardly a problem because we operate in many different markets, but for locally active players, it might seem a little overwhelming to have to learn about rules that you almost never encounter in your daily work.
IAAP is currently developing several certifications in parallel, both an upadate and internationalization of the basic certification, CPACC, and a specialist certification of web accessibility experts.
Funka’s Head of Analysis, Andreas Cederbom, is active in the group working on the web accessibility specialist certification and Susanna Laurin is involved in the update and internationalization of the basic certification. From 2017 it is possible to sit for the certification exam at Funka’s premises in Sweden and in the longer term we also hope that the certification will be offered in Swedish and other local languages.
We believe that the certification will make a big difference in our industry, says Andreas Cederbom. It is an intriguing work that it makes total sense to be involved in.
IAAP was founded by a number of large and small companies with the aim of creating conditions for the accessibility industry to develop in a positive direction. Funka is one of the founders and active promotors. Funka’s CEO Susanna Laurin was a member of the IAAPs Board of Directors until G3ict took over operations in 2016. Since then, Susanna is part of the Global Leadership Team. She is also appointed as IAAPs Representative to the EU and has been commissioned to create a Scandinavian local chapter.