Three questions to Raouf Sormunen

Three questions to Raouf Sormunen, accessibility expert at Funka and Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA) within the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, IAAP.

You are one of the few who can call themselves CPWA certified. Could you tell us more about what it means?

It means that I’ve graduated and can prove that I have a good understanding in user needs and the regulations that support users in their demand for accessibility in web and services. Furthermore, I am aware of the different models on how persons with disabilities are seen on a societal level. I also have knowledge in technical standards for accessibility, which concerns what developers need to do to meet the needs that users have on websites and digital services.

Being an expert since many years in computer based assistive technology, how would you describe the development in assistive technology in recent years?

As in many ICT fields the trend is towards smaller and/or wireless assistive technology that is easy to bring. Assistive technology looks more and more like mainstream tools and are less stigmatising, since there are no big artefacts anymore. One domain on the rise is voice controlled “smart” tools like speakers, tv’s, watches or remote controls. Services like Siri, Google home or Alexa are not assistive technology but universally designed products and services. The next big trend is probably Artificial Intelligence to gather and process data as well as to predict user patterns.

When you are testing accessibility with our clients and partners, which are the biggest problems right now?

Two things seem to be the biggest problems. The first is the wish to meet the requirements in the Web Accessibility Directive, since that only covers minimum levels of accessibility. This means focus is compliance instead of real accessibility. The second problem is that accessibility seems to be forgotten in the transition from web to mobile applications. Simpler requirements that rarely pose a problem on the web nowadays appear in mobile applications.