I Passed!

A little over 6 weeks (mid-May) after sitting for the WAS exam (early-April), I received an e-mail congratulating me on passing the Web Accessibility Specialist certification exam, established by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). WOW! That truly made my day. Not only had I passed, but I did well with a score of 729 on a scale of 100-800. I was excited and reassured that I did understand web accessibility after putting in the time to study.

It was over 2 years ago that I started this journey of learning about web accessibility and exploring the POUR principles (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Even back then, I had challenged myself to spend 100 consecutive days trying to glean from professionals and online documentation. Let me tell you, it was slow going then, and I felt as though I hardly got anywhere. This second 100 days was different. I had a goal and an outline to go by.

After discovering IAAP’s WAS certification and their Body of Knowledge document outlining what technicalities a web accessibility consultant should know, I was going big or going home. OK, I wasn’t going to quit if I didn’t earn their certification, but I would have doubted my own abilities and understanding. Anyhow, I convinced my employer to support my endeavor by financing my exam and allowing me to spend some work time on a weekly basis to study.

100+ days of self-directed study, working through Deque’s WAS certification courses, asking questions to experts, and practicing coding techniques and evaluation concepts truly paid off when it came to achieving my goal. Upon receiving my results, I felt like I may have over-studied for the exam, but walked away with a richer experience and knowledge-base than was expected of me. I had no regrets.

Special thanks to so many who helped me get this far:

  • IAAP for giving me a goal line and a clear pathway to get there,
  • the Alaska State Libraries, Archives, & Museums for supporting my continuing education,
  • the State of Alaska webmasters and our ADA coordinator who inspired me to find answers to all our pressing accessibility questions,
  • my friends with disabilities who humored my questions and opened up to me about barriers they encountered, which motivated me to do better,
  • my family for being supportive and understanding that this is something I needed to spend time on at home,
  • Deque University for awarding me a scholarship, enabling me to take their courses, and
  • the Twitter, Slack, and LinkedIn web a11y (accessibility) communities for answering my questions and cheering me on; there are just too many names to mention without leaving someone out!

If you’re just starting your own journey into accessibility and feel overwhelmed or confused, don’t be. There’s a whole community of people willing to help, guide, and cheer for you! And the fact is, we are all still learning because there is no real one-size-fits-all way of writing code and crafting experiences. You can do this. Stay motivated, understanding that the more you know and practice, the more you’re helping build a better web for everyone.

Learn from me, but go beyond me. Talk to experts. Talk to people with disabilities. Experiment on your own. Put what’s new to you into practice as often as you can. And, most of all, believe in yourself and the mission to enable more people to equally use the web.

I am now Amy Carney, Web Accessibility Specialist, and I am still learning, too. Web accessibility is one of my passions, so contact me if you have web accessibility questions, want to share your own story, or are looking for a presenter for your conference or meetup. In the meantime, I’ll continue to build upon my own learning and credentials by preparing for IAAP’s CPACC certification, and educating others when the opportunity arises.