Digital Accessibility Industry Calls for Professional Certification

July 13, 2016 |
Ken Nakata, JD, CIPP/US, Director of Accessibility Consulting, Cryptzone discusses how digital and bricks-and-mortar solutions need to comply with key accessibility laws.

In our work to support digital accessibility projects, we come across many developers and web professionals who know parts of the puzzle. Surprisingly though, many claim digital accessibility practices as an expert skill. In fact, a quick review of accessibility-related profiles on LinkedIn suggest expertise in the following:

  • ADA Compliance: 14,705
  • ADA Guidelines 1,412
  • Accessibility: 215,847
  • Universal Design: 14,380
  • ADA: 47,750
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: 15,495
  • Accessibility Surveys: 175
  • Disability: 663,295

At a recent networking event with leaders of accessibility professionals, we came to the conclusion that accessibility is a much larger field of professionals than previously thought. But how can we really tell who knows what it takes to be an accessibility expert? After all, there are plenty of people claiming to work in this area and holding themselves out as experts. The conclusion? There is a need for professional credentialing process in this area.

With the renewed focus on digital accessibility with news laws out of the EU and the increasing practice of issuing demand letters for the compliance of websites, it is important to truly select professional that do have this area of expertise.

Digital Accessibility Certification Program

Representing Cryptzone as a founding board member of IAAP, I have the privilege of working to develop a certification program that aspires to the following goals for accessibility certification:

  • To define what accessibility professionals are expected to know.
  • To increase the quality and consistency of the work performed by accessibility professionals.
  • To provide accessibility professionals with a credential as evidence of their commitment to the accessibility field, and of their competence within the field.
  • To provide employers, the accessibility community and the public with a metric to measure and assess the accessibility competence of current and/or prospective employees.
  • To provide colleges, universities, and vocational programs with clear educational outcomes and a curriculum outline for teaching accessibility.
  • To strengthen the community of practice among accessibility professionals.

Evaluating Digital Accessibility Vendors

For any organization requiring expertise for digital accessibility, ensure you review what associations that provider is a member of. Also, as more is done to develop certification practices, ask how the organization is involved in these and if the team plans to become certified because you truly want expertise in this area to avoid unnecessary legal issues and better yet to open your service to a huge market of people living with disabilities.

Read more from Ken Nakata.

EU Directive Calls for Web and Mobile App Accessibility

How to Make Accessible Websites

Top 10 Most Common Web Accessibility Mistakes


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Ken Nakata

Ken Nakata, JD, CIPP/US is the one of the most well-known attorneys in the area of IT accessibility and is the Director of Cryptzone’s Accessibility Consulting Practice (ACP). Nakata’s work focuses on Web and software accessibility from both a legal and technical perspective. Nakata’s ACP team helps organizations manage the change towards accessibility in all aspects, providing consulting services aimed at shaping their accessibility policies and practices, and evaluating the overall state of their Web properties leveraging Cryptzone’s accessibility solutions. He is also a board member for the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP),of which Cryptzone is a founding member.

Nakata worked for twelve years as a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. He has argued on behalf of the United States government many times before the federal courts and has helped shape the government’s policies for the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Nakata also worked as Director of Accessibility and Government Compliance at BayFirst Solutions, a Washington, DC consulting firm.

In 2000, Attorney General Janet Reno presented Nakata with the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Information Technology. In addition to practicing law, Nakata is active in software and web-based technologies, including Java, JavaScript, SQL, and ColdFusion. In July 2001, he was certified by Sun Microsystems as a programmer for the Java 2 Platform. Nakata is a frequent speaker on both law and technology and is equally adept at conducting one-on-one workshops with programmers and developers as well as explaining law and policy to large audiences. He holds a Bachelors of Art degree in mathematics from John Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is admitted to the bars of New York, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Washington.

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