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

Good day!


I am intrigued with the dialog and encouraged with the open acceptance of IAAP
leaders to the suggestions presented so far. As stated, professional
organizations are usually formed to serve the members of the organization.
However, it appears that the majority members are corporations, who of course
are the primary funding sources, but will disabled professionals benefit from
IAAP influence? Corporate membership provides funding support to the
organization, which includes a selective small number of employees to benefit
from this membership.


I believe large companies should be encouraged to seek IAAP membership, but
their member representatives should not be restricted to employees only. Large
companies should be encouraged to sponsor small organizations and independent
entrepreneur disabled professionals, so as to inspire collaboration. Large
blocks of voting memberships owned by a company should be truly representative
of accessibility professionals and community partnerships. The IAAP organization
must remain in the control of the professional member individuals, and not
unduly influenced by any one company.


My concern is that we often to the right thing for the wrong reasons. The
growing acceptance of digital accessibility standards, enforced by the spread of
global legislative requirements, has created a new ecosystem of specialists that
has made disability a commodity. The paradigm shift in social attitudes, and the
growing corporate demand for top talent, has changed the way we do business
around the world. However, the accessibility knowledge gap within large
companies has displaced many disabled professionals. That is, despite the
adopted accessibility strategy, the operational management of many large
companies do not acknowledge the talents of disabled employees, but rather the
threat of legal compliance has created a thin veneer of accommodations.


The IAAP mission is to create a more inclusive digital world by educating IT
professionals, but this will only be achieved if IAAP itself is truly inclusive.
How can IAAP help to reverse the continueing trend of high rates of unemployed
disabled professionals? The IAAP bylaws must ensure all professionals are


I fully support your effort, and wish you much success!





From: Gregg Vanderheiden [] On Behalf Of Gregg
Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2014 7:08 PM
To:; John Foliot; WebAIM Discussion List; Phill Jenkins;; Rob Sinclair; David Dikter; IG - WAI Interest
Group List list
Subject: Re: Questions about the International Association of Accessibility
Professionals (IAAP)




A few note that hopefully help here. 



Professional organizations — (and I believe this is meant to be a professional
organization) — are usually formed to serve the members of the organization.


All organizations need officers and those need to be elected - by vote.    So
that is one place where all (voting) members vote.    

In professional organizations , all members usually also have to vote to approve
the bylaws or changes to bylaws. 


Corporate memberships are usually separate from professional memberships


The purpose of a corporate membership is to provide funding support to the

They usually include a small number of complementary memberships so that the
organization officials can be members.   

They are not meant to be mass membership purchases.  (I have never seen this) 


If corporations want to pay for the individual member fees for their employees -
that is fine and they usually do that by paying for the individual memberships
as their employees join the organization.


The complementary memberships that come with a corporate membership - - are
often named at the time the corporate membership is granted.   They are not
'pocket memberships’.   Large blocks of voting memberships owned by a company
would not be healthy for a professional organization — and I know of no
professional organizations where this is done. 


In fact, in a professional organization - much care is taken that the
organization remains in the control of the professionals (individuals in that
profession ) and that it cannot be taken over or unduly influenced by any
company or by companies as a group.    


Professional organizations are organizations by, of, and for professionals.
And if so, the by-laws etc should reflect that — and ensure that it is starts
and stays like that.



My suggestion is that, if you are creating bylaws for a professional
organization - you look at the statutes and bylaws of other professional
organizations, and model yours after those.   Bylaws are tricky things.   They
are primarily for two purposes

1.	to enable
2.	to restrict - but only in those places where there is danger of things
going wrong if restrictions are not there
3.	(general procedures should not be in bylaws)   


Good luck.  I have been part of quite a few organizations - including
professional organizations - as they were formed,  and it is real work to figure
out the role of — and proper form for the bylaws and the governance they define.




PS  If this is a non-profit organization, then the governance and who has voting
rights etc has to be (legally has to be) defined in the statutes and/or bylaws. 


Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Director Trace R&D Center
Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
and Biomedical Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison

Co-Director, Raising the Floor - International -
and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project -


On May 10, 2014, at 4:08 PM, Léonie Watson <> wrote:

John Foliot wrote:
"... 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

One possibility is to foster local accessibility groups. There has been some
success in the US with this, but it's something that has far greater
potential than is being realised at the moment. The IAAP won't suddenly
change that, but it's quite possible that people will think a good place to
start a group for local accessibility professionals, is under the auspices
of an international association of accessibility professionals, rather than
trying something on their own.

That's perhaps something else worth thinking about. It's relatively easy for
those of us who are engaged with the accessibility community to start
something, draw people together and work on some initiative. For the people
less engaged, less plugged into the community if you like, it probably isn't
that easy. If someone like that has an idea, doing it as an IAAP group could
seem like a good way to get started, and to reach a lot more potential
participants than their own networks might permit.

"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."

Very true, and I can't think of a better place for those kinds of groups to
be based. But what what about communities outside of the web or without a
purely technical focus?

Project managers who want to identify the best way to embed accessibility
into agile methodologies, graphic designers who think it would be useful to
develop guidelines for maintaining accessibility in the switch between
digital and physical media, UX practitioners who want to draw up a manifesto
for usability testing with disabled people, web managers who want to look at
practical steps for creating and implementing organisational accessibility
strategies. Just a few ideas, possibly some of them already being done
someplace I don't know about, but getting into the weeds of specific
examples isn't the point.

"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?"

True, but there are also groups that accomplish a great deal. As to what the
IAAP will do to overcome the "paper group" problem, I don't know. That said,
in my experience the success of a group rarely has much to do with the board
of the organisation, and far more to do with the people who are active
participants in those groups.

I'm glad you're asking these questions John. The steps our industry takes
should be a matter for discussion by the industry at large,and the more
people that get involved in these conversations the better. Keep it up my



Received on Monday, 12 May 2014 02:07:58 UTC