Microsoft Will Help Launch a New Association for Accessibility Professionals

Picture of Rob Sinclair 

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

Comments (14)
  1. Birkir Gunnarsson says:

    This is exciting news. However, it is slightly ironic that this particular page has some accessibility errors, including the linked image with no alternative text.

  2. Hi Birkir, Thanks for your comments. I am not sure why you can't see the ALT text for the image. When I view the source it is present for me. Second, we are aware that there are some accessibility limitations with the publishing platform we are using. We are continuously working with the team to advise them of changes to improve accessibility. Also, this blog is available via RSS which would allow you to read the content in any one of a number of accessible RSS readers.

  3. Ron Graham says:

    I'm totally blind and using JAWS, have no problem reading the alt tag,

  4. Paul Adam says:

    The image was missing an alt attribute when Birkir posted the comment, VoiceOver was reading the image file name which was mostly useless.

    The alt value was correctly added before Daniel posted it seems.

    <a href="…/1881.RobSinclair1_5F00_2013.jpg"><img src="…/1881.RobSinclair1_5F00_2013.jpg" alt="Picture of Rob Sinclair" border="0"></a>

  5. Jeanine says:

    We need a professional organization in the field of accessibility. I would like to be a member and help make it be inclusive of all. This type of association should not be about money or status but about those who are actively interested in making the web more accessible for all . I am also interested in assisting with the development of requirements and standards for professional certifications.

  6. Alan Smith says:

    This is a great idea and I would love to assist in anyway I can. As an Accessibility Specialist validating web and mobile apps for accessibility compliance I'm also an invited expert to the W3C and on the Mobile Accessibility workgroup.

    Sincerely, Alan Smith

  7. Charles Kravetz says:

    How about adjusting the fonts on this website so that all of us can read it easily? The font used is probably 10 or 12 point, adjusted to the web standard of 80%. It makes a font of about 6 or 8 point on my 19-inch monitor, and I increase 80% to be able to read the letters. Of course, the sidebar and comments are then giant font sized, because only the body is shrunk so tiny.

  8. Paco Chávez says:

    I want to work in Microsoft or Google please help me with this :c

  9. Bryce Samuelson says:

    Maybe you should let the consumer organizations help you with the creation of this association.  I'd think the computer science division and other groups, committees and divisions of each organization may like to be right in the middle of this.  It may even assist in unifying the consumer disability groups around accessibility more than they are already.  That may be especially powerful of accessibility would be a major check and a milestone for each product's release.

  10. Jeni Mundl says:

    This is something that we have been working on for a long time with US, England , China, India, and Africa. It is something people need help understanding and I would enjoy this important project.

  11. David Fazio says:

    I blog for G3ict on global digital inclusion. I live with a traumatic brain injury. I hope this organization understands the monumental difference between access and inclusion. We want environments that include us with our non-disabled peers in the same experiences, in the same way, for all of the same reasons. We do not want separate but equal access through assistive technology. Revolutionary German designer Hartmut Esslinger said it best when speaking of his groundbreaking work with apple. Software is an excuse for poor design.

  12. Nabil Eid says:

    Great idea!

    Working on Telecentre Academy for PwDs, TCA is helping to "bridge the gap" and bring the PwDs to the doorstep of Information Society. also working on improvement of networking facilities and accessibility to allow more efficient co-operation between universities, institutions and telecentres for all kind of PwDs online network (discussion groups, mailing list, chatting, etc…), extensive research is needed to activate the role of Assertive Technology and ICTs for PwDs in the community.

    Make all information and communication methods offered to the general public available in formats appropriate to the different needs of PwDs.

    Nabil Eid, Regional Community Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Foundation

  13. David Fazio says:


    I've been following Kenya's technological revolution into Silicon Savannah since the advent of M-Pesa. I'm thoroughly impressed with Africa's dedication to improving quality of life through technology. Most notably Konza Techno City…

    Let's keep this dialogue going:


  14. Ravindra says:

    I am Ravindra , working as Accessibility professional in Onya

    This is really a great initiative , if something like this materializes , it would be a welcome step in the Inclusive community.

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