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Re: Seeking feedback on IAAP certification roadmap

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:02:49 -0500
To: Sharron Rush <srush@knowbility.org>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF472CE458.D3485BFD-ON86257CB5.0061E813-86257CB6.005DA690@us.ibm.com>
Sharron,
two great questions that I'll weigh in on. 

1: "What is the problem we are addressing with certification and how is it 
solved?" 
Here is a use case that explains one problem:  NIST in the USA is tasked 
with certifying voting machines and the whole system (management, 
preparation, voting day operations, etc.) for accessibility compliance to 
guidelines and standards.  When a certifying company (agency or 
consultant) takes on the certifying tasks, some guidelines or criteria 
were asked for on how to know who could be qualified and hired to do the 
work.  There were nor recognized or published criteria to be found.  So, 
the team started writing up some basic criteria they thought about, such 
as a Master degree, a few years of experience, etc.  But they soon had 
additional questions to answer: which master's degree?  how many years? 
and experience in what?   The IAAP professional certification program 
would help NIST examine and determine if an IAAP certified processional 
would be sufficient and/or necessary to meet their needs.  It would also 
help NIST better understand their own extended criteria & needs (which is 
frankly part of the problem we are solving for our accessibility community 
too).

2: "It is unlikely that employers or others will choose certification over 
years of proven experience" [OK, not a question, but not a given either in 
my opinion]
I believe another problem IAAP Certification is solving is how to 
consistently and with some confidence be able to answer the questions: 
"what does years of proven experience" mean or equate to and give the 
employer?  e.g. how many years of experience is appropriate to be used to 
certify an individual as professional?  What kinds of experience? e.g. I 
ran a usability study with participants with disabilities vs I 
participated in a usability study; what kind of knowledge? e.g. I know 
where to find and use WCAG techniques, vs I was on the working group that 
wrote WCAG; I know which assistive technologies would be appropriate for a 
accessibility assessment, vs a knowledge of the difference between AT's 
from both an end user's perspective and a testing perspective;  etc. I 
suppose I',m starting to write the questions for the certification test, 
sorry.   In other words, a certification MUST explain what it represents 
and perhaps how it is equivalent to years of accessibility experience, 
proving the ability to do an accessibility assessment of  web sites, etc. 
so that the employer or decision maker (e.g. NIST) can decide if that 
persons has the necessary qualifications and skills. I believe if we can 
write up the necessary list of skills a certification test can be written 
to benefit the community and our stake holders. 

 I'm not representing IBM, the Access Board, nor IAAP on my response, but 
simply contributing to the groups' thinking and possibly helping Paul get 
more information documented. 
____________________________________________
Regards,
Phill Jenkins, 
Senior Accessibility Engineer & Business Development Executive
IBM Research - Human Ability & Accessibility Center
http://www.ibm.com/able
http://www.facebook.com/IBMAccessibility
http://twitter.com/IBMAccess
http://www.linkedin.com/in/philljenkins



From:   Sharron Rush <srush@knowbility.org>
To:     w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, 
Date:   04/09/2014 10:54 AM
Subject:        Re: Seeking feedback on IAAP certification roadmap



Hi Paul,

These are important questions, I am glad that the IAAP is asking them.  I 
would add this one: What exactly is the problem meant to be solved by the 
certification process?  I have heard several but none seems aligned with 
the Roadmap that you present here.  So I guess the follow on question 
would be: How does the certification process solve that problem? 

I looked on the "About IAAP" page for an answer to my question of "What is 
the problem we are addressing with certification and how is it solved?" 
The closest I can find is under "Individual Professional Development" 
which says:
"Develop and implement activities, including a certification program, to 
enable professionals working in accessibility and those interested in 
knowing more about accessibility to influence and implement accessibility 
within any organization." Not sure what that means - can you explain? is 
it focused on web accessibility? physical accessibility? both? and for 
whom exactly?

It is lovely to see people working together for a common goal of improving 
awareness and skills around digital accessibility (and I will assume for 
the sake of discussion that is what is meant).  I strongly agree with the 
fact that inclusive design thinking is needed and is needed throughout an 
organization, not simply among tech people.  But if that is the problem, 
isn't Lars' solution by far the better one? Should our efforts not be put 
to integrating accessibility awareness and skills training into existing 
educational programs for project management, programming, design, 
engineering, communications, etc?  It seems that the last thing we want is 
for accessibility to be once more shoehorned into a "special" category, 
like "special" education that seems to be aimed at a particular (and 
somehow different) group of people.  Do we not, rather want to see broad 
thinking about human interaction integrated seamlessly into the way people 
are trained for digital communications professions?

I don't think, as others seem to, there is anything to fear from a 
certification program.  It is unlikely that employers or others will 
choose certification over years of proven experience.  Most are quite 
familiar with the empty promise of some skills certification programs, I 
am thinking now of usability certifications, a closely related field. But 
I also see so little to gain and find myself wishing that this much energy 
and effort were being expended on an initiative that could really make a 
difference. I am simply not convinced that this is it.

I don't mean to be a wet blanket and I thought a while about just letting 
this go its course and remaining silent.  But as I said, it is exciting to 
see people begin to take action and I appreciate the way you address the 
concerns that have been raised, Paul.  So I share my perspective in the 
hope of being helpful in focusing the efforts of IAAP on a course of 
action that might produce more useful outcomes than building yet another 
certification.

Sincerely,
Sharron
------------------------------
Sharron Rush | Executive Director | Knowbility.org
Equal access to technology for people with disabilities 
Learn web accessibility from nose to tail at AccessU
 






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