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.
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals is off to a strong start with a diverse group of members from nearly 40 countries. This diversity is essential to achieve our goal of a unified approach to accessibility that is relevant worldwide. We need to understand each country’s unique culture, standards and regulatory landscape, and thanks to our rapidly growing membership, we are well on our way.
Ultimately, the IAAP’s success will hinge on the participation of its members, sharing their experiences about what works and what doesn’t. A single organization or company cannot address all of the opportunities and challenges of accessibility. Instead, we all need to work together. This means IAAP needs a place to collaborate, which is why we are working to develop an accessible, interactive online community. This will be a portal where members can share ideas, exchange best practices and get help when they are struggling to achieve the goals of digital accessibility.
Regardless of your position and experience, there will be opportunities to contribute and get involved. For example:
- Independent consultants have a range of experience regarding techniques for educating and guiding organizations or individuals, evaluating and mitigating gaps in the accessibility of websites, products and services, as well as advising on process and practice improvements.
- Technical experts (e.g., developers, designers and testers) have deep knowledge in the “what” and “how” of accessibility. They have perspectives shaped by the realities of competing priorities and conflicting requirements where philosophy and pragmatism often collide. This is the experience IAAP needs to ensure its methodologies are realistic and that its individual professional development program is valuable.
- Members from large organizations and businesses have valuable perspectives to share regarding the IAAP’s organizational development plan: a blueprint that will help large public and private-sector organizations learn how to create internal accessibility standards, best practices, business processes and more.
- Trainers and educators have overcome the challenges inherent in using imperfect technologies to help employees and students participate in our technology-reliant daily lives.
- Program managers have developed the business cases and financial models to persuade their organization to invest in accessible content, products and services. They understand how challenging it is today to keep members of their organization up to date on changing standards, regulations, customer needs and technology trends.
(Read more about the IAAP in stories on the Microsoft Accessibility Blog: “New Association of Accessibility Professionals Kicks Off Work with New Members and Great Support;” and “Microsoft Will Help Launch a New Association for Accessibility Professionals.”)
These are a few examples that underscore the reality that accessibility is not easy – especially in a world of constantly changing technology. In our work, we are not striving towards a final destination because the world will continue to change underneath our feet.
We created the IAAP because the time has come for a unified global approach to accessibility. We believe the IAAP will advance the pursuit of accessibility and directly contribute to achieving digital inclusion. We know that requires a connected community of well-trained and committed professionals around the world working together to solve the technology problems that exist today and that will emerge tomorrow. Our growing and diverse membership demonstrates the global interest in this work and sends a clear signal that we should accelerate our efforts.
Thank you for taking these first steps with us on what promises to be a rewarding journey. I have no doubt that together, we can build a more accessible world.