Career Development

What Does an Accessibility Specialist Do?

Find out what an Accessibility Specialist does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as an Accessibility Specialist.

An Accessibility Specialist plays an essential role in ensuring that digital and physical environments are inclusive, catering to the needs of individuals with disabilities. This position involves a deep understanding of various accessibility standards and guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and applying them to create or modify websites, software, and physical spaces to be accessible to everyone. By conducting audits, providing recommendations, and working closely with designers, developers, and stakeholders, the Accessibility Specialist ensures that accessibility is not an afterthought but an integral part of the design and development process. This role not only enhances user experience for individuals with disabilities but also supports organizations in meeting legal and ethical obligations regarding accessibility.

Accessibility Specialist Job Duties

  • Evaluate and audit digital content, including websites and mobile applications, for compliance with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and other accessibility standards.
  • Develop and implement remediation strategies for identified accessibility barriers, collaborating with web developers, designers, and content creators to ensure effective solutions.
  • Create and maintain comprehensive documentation of accessibility policies, procedures, and best practices to guide internal teams and external partners.
  • Design and deliver training sessions on accessibility principles, tools, and techniques to diverse audiences, including technical and non-technical staff.
  • Facilitate user testing with individuals with disabilities to gather feedback on the usability of digital products and services, and incorporate findings into improvement plans.
  • Advise on the procurement of accessible technology and services, ensuring that accessibility criteria are included in vendor selection and evaluation processes.
  • Coordinate with legal and compliance teams to monitor evolving accessibility legislation and standards, ensuring organizational practices remain in compliance.
  • Investigate and respond to accessibility complaints or inquiries from users, conducting thorough analyses and proposing appropriate resolutions to enhance user satisfaction and compliance.

Accessibility Specialist Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing an Accessibility Specialist’s salary include their level of experience, the complexity of projects they manage, the size and industry of their employer, and their expertise in specific accessibility standards (e.g., WCAG, ADA). Specialization in digital accessibility tools and platforms can also significantly impact earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $69,825 ($33.57/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of accessibility specialists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

This growth is driven by increasing legal requirements for digital accessibility, a rising awareness of inclusivity, and the expanding digital economy demanding accessible websites and applications for people with disabilities, making the role of Accessibility Specialists crucial for compliance and ethical business practices.

Accessibility Specialist Job Requirements

Education: An Accessibility Specialist typically holds a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in fields such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Human-Computer Interaction, or Disability Studies. Relevant coursework includes web development, digital accessibility standards, assistive technologies, and inclusive design principles. A strong foundation in legal frameworks governing accessibility, such as the ADA and WCAG, is also essential. Advanced degrees may focus on research, policy development, or specialized technology solutions to enhance accessibility.

Experience: Accessibility Specialists typically have substantial experience in developing and implementing accessibility standards and guidelines. Their background often includes hands-on work in creating accessible digital content, conducting accessibility audits, and providing recommendations for improvements. They may have gained their expertise through on-the-job training, participation in professional workshops, and involvement in projects that focus on enhancing accessibility in various environments. Experience working collaboratively with design and development teams to integrate accessibility into project lifecycles is also common. Continuous learning through industry-related training programs is essential to stay updated with evolving accessibility laws and technologies.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications beneficial for an Accessibility Specialist include the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) and the Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) certification, both offered by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). No specific licenses are required for this role.

Accessibility Specialist Skills

WCAG Compliance: Interpreting and applying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to digital content and web applications is crucial for ensuring they are accessible to users with disabilities. Staying abreast of any updates to these guidelines is also necessary for maintaining compliance and inclusivity.

Universal Design Principles: Applying these principles effectively creates environments and digital platforms that are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. By anticipating and mitigating potential barriers, environments and products become more inclusive, aligning with legal standards.

Assistive Technology Integration: The seamless incorporation of tools and software designed to aid individuals with disabilities enhances the user experience for all. Evaluating the compatibility of various assistive devices with technology platforms and making adjustments promotes inclusivity and accessibility in digital spaces.

Accessibility Auditing: Conducting thorough reviews of digital content and applications to ensure they meet accessibility standards involves identifying barriers that prevent access to information or services for users with disabilities. Recommendations for practical solutions to enhance usability are based on a detailed understanding of guidelines like the WCAG.

ADA Standards Knowledge: A deep understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards allows for the evaluation and recommendation of modifications to both physical and digital spaces, making them accessible to individuals with disabilities. Applying these guidelines ensures the creation of inclusive environments.

User Experience Adaptation: Designing interfaces that are intuitive for users with a range of abilities involves a deep dive into human-computer interaction. By anticipating and creatively addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals, digital content and functionalities become seamlessly accessible.

Accessibility Specialist Work Environment

An Accessibility Specialist typically operates in an environment that prioritizes inclusivity, mirroring the essence of their role. Their workspace is designed to accommodate a wide range of needs, ensuring it is equipped with adaptive technologies and tools essential for evaluating and enhancing digital accessibility. This setting often extends to remote work possibilities, reflecting a commitment to flexibility and work-life balance.

The culture within which they work is collaborative and supportive, with a strong emphasis on continuous learning and professional development. Interaction with colleagues and stakeholders is frequent, necessitating strong communication skills and a patient, empathetic approach to problem-solving.

Health and safety, including digital well-being, are given due consideration, aligning with the broader mission of creating accessible environments for all. The pace of work is steady, with periods of intense focus, particularly ahead of project deadlines or during audits. Despite the challenges, the role offers a fulfilling opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive world.

Advancement Prospects

Accessibility Specialists can progress to senior roles within organizations, focusing on creating inclusive digital environments. Advancement often involves leading accessibility teams, strategizing organizational accessibility policies, or consulting on accessibility standards. To achieve these positions, specialists typically deepen their expertise in web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) and gain experience in diverse environments, including web, software, and mobile accessibility.

Moving forward, some may transition into roles as Accessibility Directors or Chief Accessibility Officers, where they influence broader corporate strategy and advocate for universal design principles. This trajectory requires a solid understanding of legal compliance issues, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the ability to integrate accessibility into the fabric of organizational culture and product development processes.

Engagement with the wider accessibility community, through contributions to forums, speaking at conferences, and participating in standard-setting bodies, can also enhance career prospects by establishing a specialist as a thought leader in the field.


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