Advice for the Aspiring Accessibility Tester / Manager

Since I started posting these articles on Medium, I’ve had several people reach out to me and say “Hey, I think Accessibility looks really awesome as a career choice. How do I get there?” Rather than answering each query individually, I realized that I do have some thoughts on this, and not being shy in my opinions, I am sharing them.

(Author’s Note: I am trying to write articles on topics that haven’t been talked about to death. If I see another article on writing good alt-text or headers copied largely from WebAIM or W3C, I’m going to scream. If there is a topic that you are interested in, please let me know)

Accessibility is a great career. It is not taught well in college, so it is something that is largely expected that will be picked up through self-education and experience. A strong background in programming, software testing, or program management certainly helps with the transition. If you don’t have that type of background, you may want to augment the suggestions below with additional courses in those areas. Having some experience in dispute resolution doesn’t hurt either. While that last comment is slightly in jest, Accessibility Managers spend a lot of time trying to influence people and resolve conflict. It’s a good soft skill to have.

Things that only cost time and not large amounts of money

Find an accessibility meetup

Go to an accessibility camp

Attend accessibility consulting company webinars

Sign up for accessibility-related newsletters

Learn to use free tools

In addition, there are several browser add ons and free tools that you can use to learn about automated testing. My personal favorites are WAVE and aXe. Don’t focus so much about how the tools operate but:

  1. What they are capable of reporting on;
  2. How to interpret the results; and
  3. How to plow through lots of data quickly to spot accessibility trends in the code

Volunteer

Do the 508 Trusted Tester Program

Things that cost both time and money

Join IAAP

Buy a device on Ebay

Attend a conference

Get certified

Another good program is the three 2-unit classes on accessibility which leads to a professional certificate in accessibility offered by the University of Illinois Champlain. This one is about $3000.

Conclusion

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background