Web accessibility certifications (Are they worth it?)
Why get an accessibility certification? Can I get a better job offer? Would a certification improve my credibility? These are common questions that web accessibility professionals ask. I’ll do my best to answer these and more questions in this article. But first, for the uninitiated, what is web accessibility?
Web accessibility is the practice of making web content accessible to people with disabilities. This practice ensures that web content and websites are built to give everyone a good user experience.
Why Get a web accessibility certification?
Certifications, in general, are documents that verify an individual’s competence in a field or topic. Depending on the issuing body, a certification can afford respect and distinction to the person who has it.
The field of digital accessibility is a relatively new one, and as such, certifications of proficiency only recently began to be issued in 2016. Most people who are considered experts in digital accessibility are self-taught and do not have accessibility credentials. So, why are accessibility certifications helpful?
Definition of the scope of knowledge for professionals
You can learn a lot from the internet these days. But it’s very beneficial to go through a well-structured curriculum. And this is what web accessibility certification programs provide — a comprehensive set of modules and lessons curated to give students a proper foundation in web accessibility.
Providing a frame of reference for quality work in the industry
With these certifications, experts can have a guide on what is expected of them. Additionally, quality work can be attained and maintained industry-wide.
Provide standards for employers to measure the eligibility of employees
A certified accessibility professional can easily be rated because their certificate serves as a testament to their proficiency. This helps ease the burden of proof of ability on the employees.
Let’s find out about the IAAP
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) created a series of certifications for the digital accessibility industry in 2015. The goal of these certifications is primarily to define the knowledge and professionalism of experts in the field. The IAAP offers two levels of accreditation viz:
- Professional level: This starts with an entry-level credential that assesses the basics. Next, it has a broader conceptual level covering more topics, but nothing technical
- Technical level: This covers topics that require students to have an in-depth knowledge of technical standards and guidelines.
In addition to these levels, the IAAP offers three types of certifications. I’ll briefly go over them to help you make an informed decision.
The fundamental level – CPACC
The Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) is the fundamental certification. This level is for people who work with web technologies that require optimization to be accessible for people with disabilities.
The exam costs $385 for IAAP members and $485 for non-members. However, there is a discount provision for Developing and Emerging Economies. For people who qualify, it costs $170.
Before writing the exam, you’re required to know about accessibility and universal design, disabilities and assistive technologies, and accessibility-related laws, standards, and strategies for management.
The next level – WAS
The Web Accountability Specialist (WAS) certification is for those who want to specialize in evaluating and remediating web accessibility errors in programming code.
The exam costs $430 for IAAP members and $530 for non-members. The discount provision for Developing and Emerging Economies for people who qualify is $225.
Before writing the exam, you’re required to be able to recognize issues in programmatic content, identify missing accessibility features, and understand usability and its impact on end-users.
The Certified Professional in Accessible Built Environments credential is for knowledgeable and skilled individuals in implementing accessibility standards, codes, laws, and universal design principles in the built environment.
The CPABE places successful candidates in three levels
- Level 1 – Associate: Costs $430 for Members, $530 for Non-Members, and $225 for those eligible for the Emerging and Developing Economy tier.
- Level 2 – Advanced: Costs $500 for Members, $600 for Non-Members, and $250 for those eligible for the Emerging and Developing Economy tier.
- Level 3 – Expert: Costs $650 for Members, $750 for Non-Members, and $325 for those eligible for the Emerging and Developing Economy tier.
Prospective candidates for the CPABE will gain from having already passed the CPACC
The Accessible Document Specialist Credential is for people who intend to create accessible electronic documents and remediate inaccessible electronic documents.
The ADS costs $430 for members, $530 for non-members, and $225 for those eligible for the Emerging and Developing Economy tier.
An understanding of the contextual implications of assistive technology, as well as experience authoring and formatting documents across platforms, are must-have skills.
Whether you choose to get a web accessibility certification is up to you. For an emerging and rapidly growing career path, more and more certifications and recommended skills are bound to come up. The best thing to do is make a decision based on your intended goals. If you do have the money, I recommend you get a certification like the CPACC, as it’s sure to improve your chances of getting hired.