By Rosemary Musachio, CPACC, Chief Accessibility Officer
Notice the acronym after my name. CPACC stands for Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies. I recently discovered that I had earned this title after I took the certification exam in January. I’m excited and honored to be among the few so far to be recognized as an expert in the accessibility industry. Currently, around 200 industry professionals have earned their CPACC. The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) offers the certification to qualified individuals who have worked in the accessibility industry for several years. CPACC candidates also must be proficient in English.
By being certified in accessibility, something that I’ve been doing for sixteen years, I will be seen as more credible. More people on social media networks, such as LinkedIn, are reaching out to me for advice and input. Not only does that strengthen my self-esteem, it also makes me feel that I’m making a difference in the business and education worlds.
Having a CPACC means companies will know you have fundamental knowledge about disabilities, accessibility and universal design, and laws and standards. With the prestigious credential following your name, business leaders will recognize your commitment to the accessibility field. They seek your advice and insights on accessibility issues regarding technology, architecture, commerce, and transportation. If an employer seeks applicants who have CPACC or require current employees to take it, the company realizes how important accessibility and inclusion are to its success. The certified accessibility professional ensures the office environment and technologies would be accommodating for employees with disabilities. For instance, someone who’s accredited in accessibility would be sure to know that buttons on a kiosk should be in different shapes or sizes for a blind person to use it, than someone who lacks the accreditation.
CPACC’s also are more competent in helping businesses reach out to customers with disabilities. For example, an accessibility accredited web developer ensures that they can use a website without difficulties based on laws and standards such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508 Refresh, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0). Consequently, the certified personnel are expected to know accessibility laws thoroughly so a business would avoid potential litigation.
CPACC also is beneficial because it gives credence to accessibility principles in college courses and job training. Right now 92% of federal websites don’t comply with accessibility standards. This is because many web developers don’t have instructors who were accredited in accessibility. Besides technology, other fields lack accessibility competence in educating their professionals. For instance, if pre-meds and
nursing students have courses who are taught by CPACC professors, they would treat patients with accessible attitudes, learning how to communicate better with them. Or if future teachers take courses in universal design for learning, which is part of CPACC, they would know to apply different learning and testing techniques based on students with
As more professionals become CPACC certified, persons with disabilities will start noticing the impact. Accessibility in every realm of life will become the norm, not the exception. The employment rate of individuals with disabilities will increase. Commercial and professional services will reap from our patronage. ADA and other disability-based lawsuits will dwindle, being replaced with appeals for more consumers to buy from businesses. Medical professionals who will receive CPACC-based training will communicate with patients with disabilities more effectively, and teachers will understand better the learning dynamics of students with diverse abilities. That’s what being certified in accessibility does.