Becoming a Certified Accessibility Professional (CPACC)

IAAP CPACC Logo

I recently had the opportunity to take the exam with the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) to become a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). The certification covers a broad range of foundational accessibility concepts, from web to industrial design.

My background

  • Student web developer for 2 years at Michigan State University (MSU)
  • Graduated in 2014 with bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management
  • Front end web developer for 7+ years, mostly HTML, CSS, JS/jQuery, and Adobe ColdFusion
  • Freelance web developer for 5+ years, primarily WordPress development
  • Some basic exposure to accessibility concepts but not very deep knowledge

Exam preparation

The main resource I used to study leading up to the exam was CPACC Prep Course (not a paid promotion, but holler) from Deque University This was by far the most helpful resource that I used to study for the exam, it covered everything that was on the exam. The concepts in the study material lined up 1-to-1 with questions that were on the certification exam. I think that skimming other CPACC exam prep material that is on the internet is probably helpful, but if you can afford the Deque prep course, currently $45, it’s well worth the concentrated and organized information.

Over the course of a couple of months I gradually went through the Deque prep course one module at a time. Before arriving at the conference I had been trough the prep material probably once or twice. Once I got there I crammed hard and speed ran though the prep course 3-4 times the day before the exam so all the concepts would be fresh in my head. The #1 recommendation I have from this is to go through the prep course and take the quizzes at the end of each module. If you’re struggling with specific modules then that’s really what you need to focus on. For me this was mostly the laws that exist in the different countries and what industry or sector the laws apply to.

Taking the exam

I took the exam when I attended the John Slatin AccessU Conference in Austin, Texas. They were offering the exam and conference as a bundle when I signed up, so I was able to arrive a day early to take the exam.

It consists of 100 multiple choice questions that need to be answered within two hours. There was about 10 other people who took the exam at the same time as me, but there were multiple exam dates/times offered for both the CPACC and Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) certification. I finished the exam relatively quickly, I think I was the second one done. There is no need to speed through the exam, but my thought was- either I know this or I don’t, no need to sit there and get frustrated if I didn’t know an answer, fill in the bubble and move on.

Next steps

I’m currently (2021) studying for the WAS Certification, once again, I’m using Deque’s IAAP WAS Exam Prep. As the name states, this is much more focused on doing accessible web development. It’s much more “technical”, code wise, than the CPACC exam which covered broad topics from a variety of industries. The WAS exam covers everything from fundamentals to the specifics of making accessible SVGs, canvas, forms and more.

Another thing to mention is that maintaining this certification requires continuing education (CE) credits. I’m able to obtain some of these credits through the Deque prep course and by taking my next (WAS) exam.

I’m excited to take, and hopefully pass, the WAS exam so that I can be part of the exclusive “IAAP Certified Professional in Web Accessibility” club, which is individuals that have both the CPACC and WAS certifications.

Travis Williamson

I'm Travis Williamson—a developer, creator, blogger, designer, accessibility specalist and owner of Williamson Design.

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