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RE: Questions about the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP)

From: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2014 11:08:11 -0700
To: <tink@tink.co.uk>, "'WebAIM Discussion List'" <webaim-forum@list.webaim.org>, "'Phill Jenkins'" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Cc: <info@accessibilityassociation.org>, <Rob.Sinclair@microsoft.com>, <ddikter@atia.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <028d01cf6c7a$cf020620$6d061260$@ca>
Léonie Watson wrote:
>
> John Foliot wrote:
> > so, outside of a committee working on
> > networking, and one on education and certification, what other
> > committees and task forces could you envision for this association?
>
> My understanding is that IAAP members will be able to create
> communities that focus on specific topics, should they wish. I'm not
> sure of the finer points of how you'd go about doing that right now,
> but the connections area of the IAAP site will facilitate this (when it
> goes live) with resources like homepage, wiki, email list etc.
>
> I don't think we should be looking at the IAAP board to suggest which
> communities are set up under the IAAP umbrella. I'd be much happier if
> those ideas came from the grassroots of the industry.

Hi Léonie,

While I can certainly agree with that sentiment, do we have any indication
that there is a need for such a mechanism? Has anyone stepped forward and
suggested "we should form a committee or task force about X,Y,Z, if only
there were a place to do so"?  Within the very limited scope of the IAAP
Mission Statement (or even looking beyond), has anyone proposed *any* ideas
in this area? It is well and good to suggest that a framework for doing this
will be created within the IAAP, but without a clear need, what will stop
this from being yet another empty box? (I hate that this even sounds
negative, but it is also a pragmatic and realistic question)

I think as well that there already exists today numerous forums independent
of IAAP where like minded professionals in our space already gather. One
such place, that you and I are very familiar with, is the W3C.

Recently, the W3C set about on an experiment very similar to this one, with
the creation of their "Community Groups" (http://www.w3.org/community/).
While focused on the much broader topic of "web technologies", within that
framework (which includes dedicated mailing lists, dedicated wiki space,
etc.) there emerged a number of groups looking at various accessibility
related topics. Here are a few of them:

* Accessible Infographics
	 (39 participants, goal: The goal of the Accessible Infographics CG
is to make information graphics, like bar charts and maps, as accessible as
possible to all, activity: none since 7/2012)

* Accessible SVG
	(26 participants, goal: This group will explore the different
conditions and circumstances for SVG use, propose clear use cases and
requirements and specification text, and make tests so we can have
consistent behavior in various user agents (including different screen
readers), activity: none since 8/2013)

* CSS Accessibility
	(48 participants, goal: Document and describe how browsers and
assistive technology currently implement CSS in regards to accessibility and
guidance on how they should, activity: none since 6/2012)

* Mobile Accessibility
	(40 participants, goal: The mission of this group is the discussion
and investigation of the intersection of mobile and accessibility, activity:
none since 10/2012)

...and, you get the point. And remember, participation in any of the above
groups does not require a paid membership, you need only to simply show up
and start contributing.

Looking elsewhere, within the higher education sector in the US, there are
also groups such as ATHEN (http://www.athenpro.org/) and AHEAD
(https://www.ahead.org/), with at least one of those groups (as I understand
it) struggling to retain membership and remain relevant and useful in 2014.

The reality is simply this: the "idea" of groups is far stronger than the
outcome of that idea. There are plenty of 'committees and task-forces' today
that exist on paper, but produce little more. How and what will the IAAP do
differently to overcome that problem?

(Note: I freely admit I don't have an answer to that question. But if the
current Board of the IAAP believe that providing the "connections area", so
that committees and task-forces can spring forth and operate, is an
important part of what the IAAP is offering its members, then I believe this
remains a valid question.)

JF
Received on Saturday, 10 May 2014 18:08:46 UTC

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