Interview with...Wing Kuet, Accessibility Consultant at Test Partners

Posted by Andrew Baird, on 18th May 2020, in Accessibility

Andrew: Wing, Congratulations on becoming an IAAP CPWA Certified Professional in Web Accessibility! How long have you been working towards certification?

Wing:  It’s been about 4 years now. It took me two years to pass the foundation level of the IAAP Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies, and another two years to become a Practitioner in Web Accessibility. Because I now hold both credentials, I’m designated a Certified Professional in Web Accessibility. It hasn’t been full time study though – you’re encouraged, and in fact I’d say it was a requirement – to have regular work experience too

Andrew: How hard has it been, to learn to become a qualified accessibility consultant?

Wing: Not easy! It has been a constant learning journey for me because I think it’s important to have the academic qualification as well as practical experience. The qualifications are relatively new but should become required for all accessibility professionals in time.

Andrew: To put this in context, do you know how many people are qualified CPWAs?

Wing: Yes, there are only 264 people with CPWA qualification, worldwide.

Andrew: It sounds like there’s a Catch-22; you need qualification and experience to be an accepted consultant, but a qualification alone doesn’t get you work…

Wing: …and working experience cannot just be obtained via academia. When you offer accessibility consultancy to someone there is a necessity to have relevant working experience as well as the academic knowledge behind it. Some people claim to be accessibility experts but don’t have the whole subject view.

Andrew: You’ve got a background in QA – does that help being an accessibility consultant?

Wing: Having a software testing and IT development background helps a lot too because both the disciplines and techniques of QA and development could be used in accessibility consultancy.

Andrew: What did you find indispensable in learning Accessibility?

Wing: Being part of forums and discussion groups greatly adds to any acquired knowledge. Also being proactive in them helps with the immersion of learning . Working with other accessibility professionals is a positive for learning, rather than working in isolation which is something that the accessibility industry has spawned in terms of remote type working. Getting actual relevant work experience within the field is very useful and important to get a decent head start. Having a strong interest in the field helps to keep you going in terms of various aspects of accessibility.

Andrew: It’s been a long journey to get to where you are now, what was it that started your interest in accessibility?

Wing: Having a family member and friends affected by accessibility issues has helped motivate me to work in the accessibility field.

Andrew: Does it feel different, now that you’re qualified?

Wing: Yes. Even though I worked in web accessibility testing for about 5 years I used to have a continual nagging case of imposter syndrome and now, having obtained accreditation it has given me more belief to say to hiring managers that I have a solid, proven, body of accessibility knowledge . However, even though I have obtained accreditation that makes me an Accessibility Practitioner, it is a continual learning journey as technology, development process and the standards all continue to evolve.

Andrew: Thanks very much.

Good to know – explanation of Accessibility acronyms

IAAP – International Association of Accessibility Professionals
CPACC – Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (the foundation level qualification)
WAS – Web Accessibility Specialist (demonstrates technical knowledge about WCAG standards and wider accessibility knowledge)
CPWA – Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (designation received for those holding IAAP and WAS certification)
WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (the technical standard for web content)

 

Wing’s route to Professional Accessibility Certification – use this list of resources and training for your own journey

  1. Dequeuniversity.com
  2. Web accessibility course by Google on Udacity 
  3. The W3C  
  4. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 
  5. ARIA Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 
  6. Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 
  7. Knowledge of JavaScript, AJAX, and interactive content relating to:
    • Managing focus
    • Using Semantic html
    • Keeping content and its changes perceivable
    • Creating device-independent event handlers
    • DOM order when adding new content dynamically
    • Simplifying events such as ensuring buttons and other active elements have one type of event associated to them. 
  8. Knowledge of browser developer tools and add-ons:
    • Web Developer toolbar
    • The inspector feature in developer tools of browsers
  9. Knowledge of browser-based developer/QA tools for automated testing:
    • aXe browser add-on  
    • Google accessibility developer tools 
    • JavaScript bookmarklets written to test accessibility criteria or expose certain types of markup
  10. Knowledge of Assistive Tool Technologies (eg JAWS, NVDA, WindowEyes, ZoomText)
  11. The intensive mentoring system in place in Test Partners