Digital accessibility is an immense subject, and jobs within the accessibility space have seen a tremendous uptick in the last few years. When I initially started in web accessibility, there were
hardly any jobs available, and the one or two openings had a lot of competition.
The rise in awareness and active pursuit of accessible services by persons with disabilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries has led businesses to prioritize making their digital products accessible. Perhaps it’s the demand letters or the lawsuits, but the industry has witnessed an enormous shift in thinking among business owners, leading to a surge in job openings. Most of these job openings are related to performing accessibility audits and identifying accessibility bugs or violations against the standards of WCAG 2.1 or WCAG 2.2. While recently reviewing job openings related to web accessibility on various portals, something odd struck me: what is the title of someone who performs an accessibility audit? I checked with my peers in the industry and also examined profiles of various accessibility specialists on LinkedIn. Here’s what I found:
- Accessibility Tester
- Accessibility Consultant
- Accessibility Specialist
- Accessibility Auditor
- Accessibility Assessment Specialist
- Accessibility Engineer
More or less, all the above titles entail similar job responsibilities such as scoping projects,
conducting audits, writing VPATs, providing internal training, managing projects, and communicating with customers. Depending on the organization, the assigned title varies; agencies generally tend to use the title ‘Accessibility Consultant,’ while enterprises prefer ‘Accessibility Engineer.’ The problem arising from these differences has led to a set of new challenges in the industry.
Accessibility Testers are generally individuals with disabilities who perform usability tests on specific platforms using various assistive technologies. They might not possess extensive technical knowledge about web accessibility guidelines. Off late, even non-disabled testers perform some of the responsibilities.
Accessibility Consultants, Specialists, Auditors, etc., are individuals bringing a wealth of subject matter expertise in WCAG, intermediate knowledge about front-end development, and other skills to the table. This group usually conducts detailed accessibility audits, generates reports, and provides related training.
Accessibility Engineers, a term commonly used in software spaces, typically define developers.
Accessibility Engineers may have expertise in WCAG testing, building automation workflows, and fixing/remediating accessibility violations outlined in accessibility reports.
The lack of a standard industry job title for accessibility specialists makes it challenging to find suitable job roles in enterprises. Work done in each enterprise differs significantly, leading to varying salary structures.
It’s already difficult to find suitable accessibility jobs with appropriate titles, responsibilities, and salaries that align with software industry standards. Discussing salary and hourly pay in the accessibility space itself warrants another article, which we’ll cover in our upcoming publications. As the industry matures, it’s time for organizations like the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) to define industry job roles, responsibilities, and salary ranges for each job title in digital accessibility. The technical certification of ‘Web Accessibility Specialist’ indirectly suggests that ‘Accessibility Specialist’ could be coined as an industry standard term.
Please share your thoughts, feedback, and opinions in the comments section.
- Stop trying to recruit unicorns with acorns
Craig abbott’s article on what is very wrong with job roles advertised in the accessibility industry and the immense pay gaps for each job roles.
- How to find accessibility jobs?
The team at DigitalA11y has put together a short guide of tips and resources on how to find accessibility jobs, both freelance and full-time/contract.
- A11Y Job Portal
A job board focused on web accessibility jobs.
- Finding accessibility jobs in specialized companies and the mainstream
Marcy Sutton provides an outline on how to find accessibility job roles and how to evaluate both the companies and the job roles.