Is it worth to be a member In the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP)?

Usually I'm a friend of mergers. You can exchange professional ideas, make new contacts and possibly even win clients. Since the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) founded its German branch, I have actually become a member. However, I have decided to let my membership expire and would like to explain the reasons here.

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The IAAP is a certification organization

It was arguably a birth defect of the IAAP that she was hermaphrodite from the start. It aims to be both a membership organization and a certification organization for accessibility expertise.

And as it is, you can't do justice to both. The members area is irrelevant both in the main organization and in Germany. The same discussions can be found on the WAI list or on Slack channels. The webinars are completely uninteresting. The further training, some of which you can get at a discount or for free, is fine, but I don't need membership for that.

It is also interesting that none of the grandees of the national or international accessibility scene is committed to membership in the IAAP. They probably think the organization is superfluous.

The dominance of Non-Disabled

Once again, the lack of disabled people at the IAAP is striking. Everywhere you see predominantly non-disabled people, who also explain to us disabled people how accessibility works. An orthodox interpretation of the WCAG criteria dominates. Of course, only the interpretation of the IAAP is correct, everyone else are idiots in the eyes of the IAAP.

IAAP DACH and BIK - brothers in spirit

Let's get to the German offshoot. You can subscribe to a newsletter that has hardly been played. Strange stuff and information from BIK people is being spread on the Twitter channel. God knows I'm not a PR person, but I could do better with my limited time.

The organization is practically dominated by BIK people, i.e. people who play a key role in developing the BITV test. And that's exactly how they behave. Intransparent and non-communicative. Apart from the request whether one would like to participate in the translations of the exams, I have hardly heard anything to date.

It all goes together well. Both the BIK and the IAAP have my criticism of the BITV test procedure or den IAAP certificates ignored. My reference to the fact that the IAAP is aimed at disabled people in front row is missing that the certificates ask for information and not conceptual knowledge and the fact that all the fun with the certifications is enormously expensive.

My conclusion is that two have found each other here: Being in favor of accessibility does not mean that disabled people are taken seriously as actors. As is so often the case, I see a paternalistic attitude among the IAAP people, as well as among those responsible for the BIK.

What the IAAP and the BIK have in common is the great resistance to advice. You are neither interested in the criticism from the community nor do you even notice it. This has nothing to do with accessibility.

As mentioned, I don't think the certificates are meaningful. Apart from that, such procedures have the trend to become self-perpetuating. At some point it's just a matter of sending as many people as possible through the exam - or failing them - simply because you need the income. This is a money printing machine and you don't have to support it.

You can also see it at other IAAP-DACH events: Disabled people are practically not present among the speakers, exceptions are state officials, but in my opinion they don't count.

The IAAP is not accessible and not inclusive

It's strange that the IAAP tells others how to become accessible and inclusive. But you don't hear anything about what the IAAP is doing to become accessible and inclusive. The IAAP has no publicly available strategy to increase the number of disabled people participating in its processes. It is itself is not an example of accessibility: The publicly accessible PDFs are tagged, but there are numerous obvious errors that a blind employee or a QA could have discovered (as of February 2024, example syllabus for the CPACC team): There are numerous Bullet texts are marked as headings, while the actual headings are not marked at all. Perhaps the IAAP employees should fulfill the requirements they have formulated and set a good example. There can also be no talk of plain language at the IAAP.

However, destructive organizations such as overlay providers are welcomed with open arms and are even allowed to host panels under the IAAP brand, for example at the Zero Con 2024. Or maybe they are simply brothers in spirit: the IAAP and the overlay providers.


I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to ennoble this organization with my membership. I will donate the $200 membership fee to NVDA, they really care about accessibility.

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