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I finally did something I’ve been meaning to do forever. I plotted out my study plan so I can start to work on my IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) certifications.

My goal is to earn the following certifications:

  • Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC)
  • Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS)
  • CPWA: Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (Earned when you complete both your WAS and CPACC)

I actually registered for the CPACC prep course and plan to spend the next 25 days seeing if I already know enough to apply for the exam on June 1st.

Screenshot of my CPACC Exam Prep course registration showing that I started on May 4, 2022.
See? Here’s my proof.

My gut tells me that between the accessibility work I do for all of my clients and my constant exposure to a vast array of topics from my clients in the disability space, I am not going to have a lot of actual learning to do. I suspect it will be more of me taking the time to organize my existing knowledge into accepted buckets so that I can do well on the exam. But, I will be happy to find out I am completely wrong and get a chance to learn lots of new things.

Day 1: Getting organized

May 4, 2022.

  • Research: I attended an IAAP drop-in session to ask some questions, registered for Princeton University’s CPACC prep course, downloaded the CPACC Body of Knowledge PDF, and then visited Amy Carney’s blog “100 Days of A11y” and watched a video of a presentation she did about her process.
  • Work: Like most days, I encountered a lot of different accessibility issues but here’s one that stood out because it was so simple. I worked with a client to identify some accessibility errors and warnings on her website. She thought she had been doing all of her alt tags correctly but I was able to show her that the WEB AIM report flagged her “Show More” buttons in her blog feed and I used the NVDA screen reader to demo the user experience. Each button was formatted correctly as a <a href> link but without any title or alt text, keyboard users won’t have any clear context on the purpose of those buttons. “Show more? More of what?” I advised her to add the blog title to each of those buttons to give users a better experience.
  • Study: I bookmarked the CPACC Jeopardy game and the Quizlet flashcards that were linked on the IAAP resources page. From Jeopardy, I learned that I don’t have independent recall of many of the Universal Design terms that I truly thought I knew! I also learned the names of 4 important pieces of legislation. American Disabilities Act of 1970 (knew that one, of course), The Equality Act of 2010 (in the UK), The Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2001 (Canada), and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2016). The Quizlet flashcards were both humbling and motivating as I quickly mastered 14 of the 102 terms after bombing.

So far, me likey.

Day 2

May 5, 2022

Research: I read this blog post from Laura Sue about her experience with the CPACC exam

Work: Today I was tasked with figuring out why Constant Contact’s spacer blocks are displaying empty/null alternative texts on Microsoft’s accessibility scans. Decorative images are supposed to be given empty alt tags so that screen readers will ignore them. That’s exactly what Constant Contact does but Microsoft’s aggressive Accessibility Checker still flags them as an error. This is where human testing is superior to automated testing.

Study: I wonder which part of the exam will be the most challenging? I’m looking forward to taking the practice exam. The exam is broken up into three sections.

  1. Disabilities, Challenges, and Assistive Technologies (40%)
  2. Accessibility and Universal Design (40%)
  3. Standards, Laws, and Organizational Strategies (20%)

1 and 2 definitely are my strongest areas but the vocabulary of my knowledge doesn’t perfectly match what is written in the Body of Knowledge. So today I worked on making connections between what I know but need to know if a completely different way.

Day 3

May 6, 2022

Research: Read through some a11y posts on Twitter. Found an interesting convo about the difference it makes when you have an inclusive hiring team involved at EVERY stage of the interview process. But a few people said that the unintended consequence is that if you are the one being pulled into all these interviews, that leaves you less time to complete your projects and progress at work. Having a more diverse team means having more people to pull into interview panels which means no undue burden on your staff. I’ve seen this on corporate teams where the one blind person gets yanked-off projects to participate in accessibility testing despite not having been hired for that purpose.

Work: Did some independent work with the tool and then attended a private training session for a truly deep dive. This premium tool is very robust and lets you do lots of things, but today I was focused on sorting error reports based on WCAG 2.1 standards. They also have a free tool to do live testing:

Study: I focused on Universal Design terms today because I had to do some adjacent work for a client anyway. Double dipping.

Day 4

May 7, 2022

Research: Played with the ARC Toolkit extension

Work: Remediate some color contrast issues for a client and add some “Previous Page” links to improve the usability of a page. I accomplished this using JavaScript and kept it very simple.

Study: ????