Web Accessibility Certifications (Are They Worth It?)
“Why get a web accessibility certification?”
“Would it help me get a better job offer?
“How does it improve my credibility as a professional?”
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. Check to see if your website is accessible.
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?
Define 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.
Provide 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.
Here’s what an IAAP certificate looks like:
The IAAP offers two levels of accreditation:
- 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.
CPACC – The fundamental level
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.
WAS – The intermediate level
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.
CPABE – The advanced level
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.
Only people who have successfully passed the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) and the Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) exams can earn the award of Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA).
These individuals possess conceptual and detailed technical knowledge about disabilities, accessibility, universal design, and accessibility-related standards and management strategies. So, IAAP decided to give those people a higher-level credential as proof of their noteworthy accomplishments.
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 can afford it, get the CPACC certification as it’s sure to improve your chances of getting hired.
Common FAQs About Web Accessibility Certifications
How do I apply for a Web Accessibility Professional (WAP) certification?
If you attended an IAAP event or conference, submit your registration, confirmation email, email from webinar event, certificate of attendance, presenter registration, agenda, or any other confirmation from activities or events in the accepted formats to the IAAP exam council.
In the case of on-demand programs with no registration, you can send a screenshot of the program opening in a document along with the URL.
How do I maintain my certification?
You can earn the needed credits to maintain your certification either by participating in professional development activities or sharing your accessibility expertise in formal trainings outside your current job function.
What is the validity period of my certification?
Each IAAP certification is valid for 3 years. During this period, you’ll be required to:
- complete an IAAP-approved number of hours of continuing accessibility education credits.
- Submit an application to renew your certification.
- Pay the certification renewal fee when due. The fee is waived for IAAP members during the validity period.
From what date does my three-year renewal begin?
Your certificate’s validity period begins from the date you were awarded it. You’ll get an email with the date for your next renewal.
How much does it cost to maintain my certification?
IAAP members whose membership remained valid during the three-year period do not have to pay to maintain their certification
Non-IAAP members or those whose membership had expired would need to pay a $200 renewal fee. There are considerations in place for people in countries classified as ‘Emerging Economies’.
Can I renew my certification even after the renewal period has elapsed?
If you fail to renew your certification through continuing education, you will have to retake the exam. You can schedule a retake of an exam through the IAAP website using the standard application process. Only those who have failed IAAP Certification exams within the past year can retake them.
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