This blog post was written by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer. Rob is responsible for the company's worldwide strategy to develop software and services that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to see, hear, and use their computers.
Last month, I joined the founding members of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) in a meeting where we discussed the next steps to create an association and transform accessibility into a globally recognized and respected profession.
In March, we will take one of our biggest steps by formally launching the Association. So far, accessibility has developed at a grassroots level, hindered by an inconsistent approach to training as well as the absence of certifications and an established career path for engineers to follow from higher education into the workplace.
This new association will begin solving these challenges by creating a global community for people and organizations working in accessibility to share expertise and resources, support one another’s work, and follow developments in this fast-changing field. As part of this effort, the group will develop training materials, webinars and other educational resources and point people to the wealth of existing industry resources. All of this will lead to IAAP developing professional certifications to help individuals demonstrate their level of expertise in one or more aspects of accessibility and help them keep that expertise current. Overall, the association’s goal is to help elevate the level of expertise held by the growing number of people, around the world, who are designing or authoring content, media, software, devices, and more.
Perhaps most importantly, the association is an effort to create a stronger sense of profession in a field of frequently self-taught practitioners. It will help those working full-time in accessibility as well as those that only include it as part of their jobs. It will support companies and organizations by helping their leaders understand how to build a successful accessibility program and develop the organizational capacity needed to deliver accessibility solutions.
We have a lot to do in the next three months including the creation of an accessible infrastructure, including a website, to serve the association and its members. It also includes beginning work to develop content, like webinars, and a platform to share insights and experience from experts in the field. All of this is being achieved through the contributions of the 23 founding member organizations, representing five countries, that have committed money, personnel and materials to help prepare for the IAAP launch.
The window of opportunity to become a Founding Member organization is quickly closing. If you are interested in contributing to the IAAP in this leadership capacity, or if you simply have a question or suggestion, please send us mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.