CSUN: International Association of Accessibility Professionals

The IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) has been rumbling along, preparing for a while now, and it’s time for the official launch.

Disclaimer: I’ve been involved for a while, Nomensa is a founding member of the organisation.

Kathy Walbin, Rob Sinclair and David Dickter presenting about the IAAP.

David Dickter – Introduction

IAAP is now launched as an organisation, we are now open for membership.

Last night we flipped the switch, and the site is now live. People have even signed up already!

The mission is:

to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession globally through networking, education and certification in order to enable the creation of accessible products, content and services.

The most effort in the beginning is to develop the organisation, the infrastructure, the governance model and the other things you need in place.

The outward facing aspects are:

  • Individual professional development, including a certification program.
  • Organisational development, resources and programs to increase overall access and opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Community development, making connections in the community to broaden the reach and assist existing efforts.

There is a large cross-section of 29 founding members, from the big names you might expect (e.g. Adobe, Microsoft, IBM); large organisation you might not expect (Lloyds Bank) to smaller accessibility agencies (E.g. Nomensa, Abilitynet).

There will be membership dues next year at around $185 for individuals, and various levels for organisations. For that people would get access to the resources, community tools etc. (AC: For me the key factor is the upcoming certification program.)

Rob Sinclair – why IAAP exists

Around the room, most people were in full time accessibility roles, although a few were not or had a lot of other responsibilities.

There was a theme coming out that there is a need for a worldwide community of experts. Organisations were having trouble finding and keeping people in accessibility roles, and the complexity makes it hard to keep up. (AC: Which makes it sound like there are plenty of jobs around in accessibility?)

There were so many cases where Rob would go a country that had spent lots of money on a solution that had been solved elsewhere already. This indicates a need for a community, and a defined organisation to share best practices and keeping up to date.

Parallel with privacy: Rob was in a meeting and several privacy professionals were discussing a breach last night in another organisation. How did they know? They were members of an organisation that was a central hub of that information, pushing out the latest updates.

Also, how many countries have stated they will be taking accessibility seriously? About 150. So they are going to write standards, make policy… wouldn’t it be great if they had a consistent way of doing that?

Also, the membership isn’t just individuals, it is also about collaborating with other organisations. IAAP isn’t trying to replace other things that are already there, but to draw on those and co-ordinate things. Community isn’t just about the individuals, it is the organisations as well.

So, please join!

Kathy Wahlbin – next steps

Kathy outlined some of the issues around how many roles and needs there are around the system.

We are looking at defining the core roles and competencies, and there are webinars coming up in Global industry factors, human factors and accessibility, testing tools (AC: which I’m doing), rich internet apps, and using assistive technology in testing.

Glenda Sims – It is open to all

Glenda shows a slide of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. She talks about the volunteer activity, what would be the perfect accessibility education?

At the moment we are where Charlie gets in the glass elevator. We’ve been in this field for a long time, and we might have to take a certification exam!? Scary! It might feel a little dangerous, but it’s worth taking the risk.

(Slide: The elevator smashes through the Glass ceiling.) We can advance accessibility further than it has in the last 10 years.

How many people are in an organisation and have accessibility dumped in their laps? They need to be able to find us without the need to know people here, or come to this conference because they probably don’t know about this conference!

Glenda is a self-described rebel, but in her experience there has never been a big-company influence on the IAAP, and she would stand against it if that happened, you would know.

The community portal

David notes that the portal is not open yet. The IAAP has started by using some fairly large enterprise tools, none of which are accessible. Not one, out of hundreds!

So, the platform for the main site has been made accessible, it’s been almost re-written. The company behind it committed to that.
The connections site is still in that process, it will launch when it’s ready and accessible.

We are also open to people testing it and looking at it, just email us.


Now that accessibility is sexy, is it accsexibility?
Yes, and actually James Craig coined that term!
What will the certification be like?
Conceptually there are three levels, and expert level (not trying to certify that unless there is demand later).
What about internationalisation?
We have lots of international organisations, but we haven’t defined yet how chapters/offices work, how to we localise the content etc. We’d like to explore that whilst we’re here, we’ll try and sort some space.
How accessible will the connections site be?
We’d love for it to be completely accessible, but at the moment we’re aiming for usable accessibility. We don’t want to wait to start that community, we’ll be upfront about the issues that exist, the company has been responsive, they just aren’t experts in this.
Why is that a volunteer effort?
We’re working with the software company, it’s got great features and is used by 100s of companies around the world. It has the features we want long term, and would be a great win. For the main site, 3 of the founding members donated time and expertise. For connections, it is usable by many people with AT today, but we’ve got a list of issues that need dealing with.
Why not wait until it’s double-A?
Is 100% accessibility on a site possible? It’s a tricky question, especially on less commonly used pages.

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