The accessibility field needs a new international community of experts to help it become a recognised profession, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer told a recent conference.
Speaking at the sixth European Forum on e-Accessibility in Paris ( bit.ly/wHNjGf ), Rob Sinclair said: “The time has come for accessibility to transcend its origin and become an internationally recognised profession.”
Specialist expertise groups have helped the security and privacy sectors become valued fields of interest over the past decade, said Sinclair, and a similar group could perform equally important functions for accessibility, such as: creating and maintaining a globally-endorsed set of educational resources; training and certifying accessibility professionals; building a global community of experts; and helping related efforts around the world co-ordinate work.
Despite significant progress in accessibility over the past two decades, we are far from achieving digital inclusion, Sinclair said. There are various reasons for this, he said, including that most design or engineering educational programmes do not incorporate accessibility into their structure; and that there is a lack of formal qualifications available to evaluate and rate accessibility experts.
The ultimate goal should be for accessibility expertise to be disseminated throughout businesses, organisations and government, to provide customers with a proper support network, he said. “These outcomes are possible, but will require broad-reaching international collaboration and dedicated resources”.