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Re: Seeking feedback on IAAP certification roadmap

From: Paul Bohman <paul.bohman@deque.com>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 13:16:38 -0400
Message-ID: <CA+20umF4nP=ADs_hJ3Qe1e66uyvkwW6+Rcz9EY_Oe+2z_wsvLw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Cc: W3C WAI ig <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Good to hear from you Chaals!

Lots of good feedback in there.

*Is IAAP certification ambitious?* Oh yeah. Very. It's intimidating to set
course in uncharted waters like this, but I've stepped in the boat and set
sail, so I'll give it my best, and we'll see what happens.

*On certification being too assessment-centric and not emphasizing
experience:* This is a good point in the sense that much of what really
matters is learned on the job, and not just in studying for a test. We
could require a certain number of years on the job before allowing people
to take the assessment. I don't think I favor that approach, though. I
would let a person's experience speak for itself and a person's
certification speak for itself, and let employers make the judgment as to
how much weight they're going to give each of those. An employer could say
something like: 4 years of experience or 2 years plus certification,
similar to what you said. Or they could hire a person at a lower level and
lower pay if they have less experience, even if they have certification. I
think we can let the job market determine how it treats certification. The
IAAP (or the certification board) would focus on creating the best
assessment possible, and after that, it is out of their hands.

*On the credential abbreviations: *Some of what I was trying to do with the
roadmap was create a vision of what the end product would be, hence the
section on abbreviations. I agree it's premature to decide anything like
that, but it helped me at least think through the process.

*On awarding the "professional level" only for a full set of modules: *Yes,
that's a possibility. Perhaps all of them could be considered associate
level credentials until a person attains a minimum number of them, at which
point they could classify themselves as "professional." That is an approach
that we have discussed, and I'm still open to doing it that way.

*In terms of the possible areas of certification: *yes, we will stick with
only digital accessibility for now, and that is why only digital
accessibility is expanded in the explanations below. We can't enter every
field simultaneously, and perhaps the IAAP will never enter some of them.
That's ok. My purpose in listing the other areas was to acknowledge that
they exist and to leave open the possibility of creating certification
within them if appropriate, and if there is enough demand.

*On the distinction between content and interfaces:* Yes, that's a
legitimate distinction, and that may prove to be valuable. That would
separate people into developers and designers on the one hand and content
creators on the other hand, and that is often how people really are divided
in the workplace. So yes, I'm open to that.

*On certifying by platform instead of by content or media type:* Yes,
that's a possibility. Web is different from desktop software, and that's a
meaningful distinction. On the other hand, there are plenty of web
accessibility professionals who know little to nothing about PDF or ePub
accessibility, and may never have created a caption file for a video, even
though they know in principle that captions are good for accessibility.
There are people who specialize in multimedia accessibility, people who
specialize in document accessibility (PDF, ePub, etc.), and people who
specialize in other areas. So the distinction is useful on a practical
level when asking: "who can help me convert all of these videos (or PDFs or
ePubs) into an accessible format?" Not all accessibility professionals can
do all of those things, even if they know the basic principles that should
be applied. Similarly, if we divide things up according to platform (web,
iOS, Android, Windows, etc.), you could say that the principles are the
same across all of these -- which they are -- or you could say that the
techniques for each platform are different -- which they are. So whether
you choose to separate things by platform or by media type, either one can
be meaningful, and there will be overlap no matter how you divide things.
Dividing up the areas into testable modules for certification is a
conceptual challenge. I think we need more internal discussion to decide
what the best division is, and your comments will help inform that
discussion. Thanks.

*On keeping skills up to date during the certification period:* The plan is
to require continuing education units, and not to require re-certification.
You are absolutely right that the value of the initial certification
declines over time as technologies advance and change. Continuing education
credits will help with that, but I acknowledge that will work only if
people learn about the new technologies, instead of re-learning old
technologies. But I'm mostly ok with that. As a person gains more
experience in the field, the importance of that experience overshadows the
importance of certification, and after a while that person will establish
her reputation, for better or for worse, and certification won't be the
deciding factor in determining a person's professional worth.

And yes, when I said "you" need to keep in mind... I meant in terms of
providing your feedback. Obviously it's the IAAP that needs to do all the
hard work!

Thanks again for the valuable feedback. This is exactly the kind of
discussion I need, especially from people like you who aren't crazy about
certification, because even though you may never be converted to the idea,
you're going to help us design it in a way that at least helps you hate it
less :-)

Paul Bohman, PhD
Director of Training
Deque Systems, Inc
703-225-0380, ext.121

On Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM, Charles McCathie Nevile <
chaals@yandex-team.ru> wrote:

> Hello Paul, all...
> On Tue, 08 Apr 2014 19:15:30 +0200, Paul Bohman <paul.bohman@deque.com>
> wrote:
>  Cross posted request for feedback:
>> The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) needs
>> your feedback on our roadmap for accessibility certification. Here is the
>> roadmap as it stands now:
>> http://www.accessibilityassociation.org/content.asp?contentid=163
>  Here are some questions to consider as you read the roadmap:
>>    1. What do you think of the roadmap overall?
> I think it is trying to tackle an extremely ambitious task.
> Focusing the requirement on being a member of IAAP seems a bad decision,
> and the model for extending certification seems a terrible one.
> I expect a professional to have dedicated a minimum of 2-3 years to
> learning their skills (perhaps over the course of 4-5 years of working in
> the area if they haven't done any related study, or a couple if they have).
> But the roadmap seems predicated on the idea of a test more like evaluating
> a few web pages for accessibility - a bit of automated testing, maybe a
> little bit of manual work, and presto! The mismatch in expectations
> concerns me.
>     2. What would you do to improve our roadmap?
> I would prefer to see the roadmap start with developing a set of tasks
> that are necessary to be able to complete successfully, development of
> curricula to support those tasks in collaboration with other organisations
> teaching accessibility, and a framework for administering testing. As Gregg
> suggested, the testing function should essentially be at arm's length from
> the people who define the requirements and provide the training, and in
> principle should be distributable.
> The roadmap should explain the process by which tasks will be updated in
> light of technological changes.
>     3. What do you think of the *levels* of certification outlined in the
>>    roadmap?
> I don't think it is worthwhile, at this stage, contemplating the "Expert"
> level. Assuming that the modules for the professional level are extensions
> of knowledge required for the basic level, I would award them individually
> as extensions to the basic level, only award a "professional level
> certification" to someone who has demonstrated their capability in a full
> set of modules.
> And spending time on what letters people can put after their name is a
> terrible waste of effort. Don't do it, until you have achieved sufficient
> market recognition of your certification that the most common abbreviation
> emerges already as obvious.
>     4. Are there any broad *Knowledge Domains and Roles* that we have left
>>    off that should be included?
> All except one of the "professional" level certifications is simply a
> title, which makes it left out in practice.
> That said, Legal, Regulatory and "soft law" instruments to manage
> accessibility form a discipline which is missing. Frankly, I would suggest
> you be very wary of taking it on, too. It's a very challenging area, and
> there are already organisations who specialise in obvious component areas
> such as Legal process, International Relations, Behavioural Economics. The
> use of technical work in policy development is a special area of pain,
> where I don't believe there is a sufficiently strong body of theory and
> practice to justify a certification plan today, although it would be a
> valuable area for research.
> I'd suggest focusing on digital accessibility exclusively at this stage.
> There are existing professional associations and certifications in areas
> like Architecture and the Built Environment, Hospitality and Customer
> Service, and I think it would make more sense to work within such
> organisations (or at least in very close collaboration) rather than trying
> to develop a certification scheme outside their existing frameworks.
>     5. Do you like our list of *Digital Accessibility* areas of
>>    certification?
> Not much.
> The distinction between Web Accessibility and Software Accessibility makes
> some sense. However, I think the baseline distinction should be between
> *content*, and interfaces and interactions. You may then want to divide
> your certification according to platforms through which these are
> delivered, and perhaps to subdivide the themes (e.g. textual/hypertextual
> content compared to audio/visual content), but given the diversity in needs
> of people with disabilities, I think there is little benefit in only being
> able to claim professional competence in meeting the needs of a narrow set
> of users.
> The explanation of "Law, Policy and Regulation" doesn't seem to touch on
> knowledge of actual law, policy or regulation and how to understand and
> work with them. This should be significantly reworked if you are going to
> deal with it - but the caution I wrote above is applicable here, if at a
> somewhat simpler level.
>     Should we add to or subtract from this list? (For    example, one
>> person commented that we should add gaming to the list.)
>>    6. Do you like the idea of certifying for these areas separately, in a
>>    modular approach as we have done? (See the section on *Referencing
>>  IAAP Credentials* for an explanation of how this might work)
> Yes and No. I like the idea that a set of competencies can be certified
> one by one. But I think you have far too many options to begin. As noted
> above, I think you should provide certification of capabilities beyond the
> basic level, but require a full set of capabilities to certify a
> professional. You may choose to divide this by platform (Web, MacOS,
> Android, Windows…) for practical reasons, but I would resist further
> lowering the bar.
> From my perspective of working out how to make services accessible,
> someone who can tell me about HTML content accessibility but not audio,
> video, user interaction design, nor what to do with document formats such
> as PDF, Word, Google Docs and eBooks is not a valuable professional.
>     7. Do you like the 3 year period for certification? Would you make it
>>    shorter (2 years) or longer (5 years)?
> I would be inclined to make it last at least 5 years. But unless renewal
> is based on some process of testing at least the skills that have changed
> in that time (with the underlying assumption that the testing effectively
> requires having maintained the original skill-set), the certification is of
> linearly diminishing worth compared to a decent CV and references.
>     8. What kind of certification assessment would you create?
> I wouldn't. It's a reason why I'm not part of this project. But I realise
> that isn't a helpful answer, so…
>     Keep in mind that it has to be a valid and meaningful test of the
>>    right kind of competencies, it must be challenging enough that
>>    novices could not pass it without first studying or gaining
>>    experience, it must be scalable (not too burdensome to administer
>>    or grade/score the assessment), and translatable into other
>>    languages.
> *You* need to keep all the above in mind (I love it when the hard things
> are Someone Else's Problem :) ). It also needs to be robust in identifying
> the person (or organisation) certified.
> My approach for the professional level certification would be to rely on
> the explanations given for real work done on a variety of concrete tasks,
> ideally in the context of actually solving problems for customers.
> The alternative relies on developing a very large set of possible tasks,
> which is not so hard for the Web (there's a lot of stuff that could easily
> be improved) and a framework for generating and distributing the right
> answers, or a methodology for determining the success.
>     9. Once certification becomes available, do you think you would go
>>    through the process to become certified? Why or why not?
> No. My job is "permanent" and not based on certifications of competence,
> so it would be unnecessary to me. If I were to become a freelance
> accessibility consultant, and if this certification were strongly
> established in the market as a recommendation of higher value than my
> reputation, then I would probably do so.
>     10. What else should we consider as we move forward?
> To support the IAAP as a global certification and education body, in
> competition with non-profit groups and government-funded institutions such
> as universities, is a very ambitious challenge.
> Good luck.
> cheers
> Chaals
> --
> Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
>       chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Wednesday, 9 April 2014 17:17:27 UTC

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