Under-supported and Underpaid
This was a thread over on Mastodon and it did some numbers (such as zero), but not everyone is over there and I felt like I might reference this again later. Now it is a post (slightly expanded in parts to reduce ambiguity).
I read Craig Abbott’s post Stop trying to recruit unicorns with acorns about getting accessibility practitioners into an organization.
He is correct the salaries are way too low for the scale of human impact and amount of organization-wide legal risk they entail. Never mind the expected skills. I’ve had juniors come to me for guidance on offers and I mostly try to frame that risk/reward.
For the IAAP part, he hints at things I have said explicitly (A11y Slack walled garden).
An employer requiring an IAAP certification is a signal they may engage in box-ticking exercises and/or not have gotten expertise for crafting the job description. I counsel folks to ask during the interview how the employer landed on that requirement. And if an IAAP cert is required, the employer must also support (pay for) ongoing training and re-cert.
To reiterate, I have no interest in IAAP. I will not join an org that allows SLAPP-filing overlay vendors as members. Its certs are tainted in my eyes because of that. AudioEye should be expelled and the fact its members have not demanded that further erodes my trust in IAAP.
I lump in this 2008 / 2023 post from Jens Oliver Meiert, How to Uncover Pseudo-Standardistas, since it also applies.
Because of terrible employers elevating under-skilled accessibility practitioners to impressive titles without supporting their skills development, I have folks regularly claim to be WCAG experts who have never opened a screen reader (or more than VO), talked to a disabled user, etc.
Add lack of mentoring and, boom, Dunning-Kruger.
So when I say, “I need a WCAG pro,” and the response is, “Oh yeah, I know WCAG; I used to audit at my last job,” I have to bite my tongue not to say, “No, you don’t know WCAG.”
Because, in my experience, they often do not.
Meanwhile, the real experts toil away without blogs or praise or much visibility. Often acknowledging the squishiness that is WCAG and the human impact it has as a crappy baseline.
As a self-styled digital accessibility specialist who’s largely driving my own skill development in the field, and who has no experience using screen readers and other assistive tech in my personal life (I have disabilities, but not ones that any assistive tech I know of helps with), screen reader testing is my weakest area.
So: do you have any recommended resources for improving myself on that front, without having to put in labor to research and compile it (which I wouldn’t ask of you without offering some sort of compensation)?
Thea, check out the screen readers section of my post Your Accessibility Claims Are Wrong, Unless… I link to documentation, commands, sample videos, and tutorials.
There are also a pile of links to overall practitioner training as replies to Matt Mullenweg’s question on another post asking for resources (and then doing absolutely nothing with any of them).