International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) position statement on overlays

Position Statement Summary

In particular, the position statement identifies these four obligations of all IAAP members:

  1. Uphold the reputation and good standing of IAAP.
  2. Act with integrity and be respectful of others.
  3. Act fairly and take responsibility for one’s conduct (including, if applicable, the conduct of one’s employees and agents).
  4. Act within the boundaries of relevant legislation.

Recommendations and Progress

Read the recommendations here. Progress and action steps towards implementing the resolutions identified in the position statement are tracked here.

  • Including questions about overlays on future IAAP certification exams
  • Preventing individuals and organizations who have made false claims from becoming IAAP members in the future.
  • Dealing with individuals and organizations already members who have allegedly made false claims and potentially revoking their membership.

What is the difference between false claims and false advertising?

False advertising is surprisingly tricky to define because it is a term of legal art that changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Concerning overlays, IAAP called out two specific false claims rather than focusing on false advertising that is dependent on subjective reasoning like, “reduces your risk of litigation.” Those are:

  1. You can’t fix your website accessibility with a single line of code.
  2. You can’t fix your website accessibility in 24 hours.

Why couldn’t IAAP outright ban overlay companies from being members?

Associations have to follow laws that non-profits like NFB do not. Because associations link multiple businesses together and involve communication between those businesses, antitrust law applies. One fundamental principle of US antitrust law is that competitors cannot join together to limit how products or services to are offered to potential customers. Banning overlay companies outright from membership would likely be a violation of US antitrust laws and at a minimum would invite expensive litigation when IAAP has way more important things to spend money on.

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.