WEB Accessibility Professional Certification Program (WAPCP)
(This was written in January, 2010. It was not funded. A Disabled Owned Business Enterprise should run with the idea!)
The Computer Technologies Program (CTP) and Abilicorp are seeking $65K in funding to develop, pilot and establish a WEB Accessibility Professional Certification Program (WAPCP). This program will train people with disabilities to analyze and ensure websites meet accessibility standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative. Graduates of this program can expect to be employed by Abilicorp and other firms whose business it is to ensure that companies and government agencies websites meet accessibility standards. Once established, WAPCP is expected to be self-sustaining through tuition reimbursement and profit-sharing.
As the internet nears ubiquity in everyone’s life, the need to ensure website accessibility becomes paramount. While the internet can literally open the entire world to people who can access its websites, the internet can also shut out the world to people who cannot access them. Studies have shown that 94% of all sites do not meet accessibility standards and therefore are unusable by up to 18% of the population. This is even though laws including the ADA clearly mandates that websites be accessible. Several large companies, including Target, have recently lost lawsuits claiming their sites to be accessible.
Who better to be WEB Accessibility Professionals than people with disabilities? Who better to implement the Website Accessibility Adherence Program than agencies focused on employment for people with disabilities?
CTP has been successfully recruiting, assessing, training and placing people with disabilities in computer-related fields since 1975. Abilicorp is a disability-focused employment company that does staffing and placement. Abilicorp also provides on-going support services such as mentoring, benefits counseling and adaptive technology assessment and sales. Abilicorp is the first Disabled Owned Business Enterprise certified by the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN).
Abilicorp started doing business in November. In an era of high unemployment and a downsized economy, competing for positions against people who, for the most part, have much more actual work experience proved to be very challenging. It became evident that specialized training that would distinguish Abilicorp “Associates” from the masses is a way to mitigate this problem. Jobs need to be found or created for which people with disabilities are or can be uniquely qualified. Testing and modifying websites, so they meet accessibility standards is an example of an emerging field that people with disabilities can and can be trained to do well. Filling these jobs would give people with disabilities the work experience they need to compete for traditional employment, and would provide Abilicorp the exposure it needs to place other people with disabilities in traditional positions. Neil Jacobson, the Founder, and CEO of Abilicorp, was a co-founder of CTP. It seems natural now to combine efforts through a formal collaboration. WAPCP is their 1st joint venture.
Disability-related soft skills training have always been CTP’s distinguishing forte. These soft skills include being able to comfortably talk about one's disability, knowing how to ask for accommodations and managing Personal Assistant Services at work. Being able to teach this remotely will greatly enhance CTP’s ability to reach many more people with disabilities than the on-site model. Combine this with teaching a unique emerging technology such as WEB accessibility, and you have a course many people will want to take. Combine this with actual careers assisting companies, and government agencies in bringing their websites into ADA mandated accessibility, and you have a program that is sustainable and profitable.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need more information. We look forward to partnering with you on this important and exciting project.