Document Accessibility Unraveled
Chad Chelius and Dax Castro during an Accessibility Podcast with the Chax Chat Logo between them.

Accessibility Careers: What you need to know

Accessibility Podcast Topic Links

Accessibility Podcast Transcript

Dax Castro
Welcome to another episode of Chax Chat. Join Chad Chelius and me Dax Castro, where each week we wax poetic about document accessibility topics, tips, and the struggle of remediation and compliance. So sit back, grab your favorite mug of whatever, and let’s get started.

Chad Chelius 
Welcome, everyone. Today’s podcast is sponsored by AbleDocs, makers of axesWord, axesPDF, document remediation services, as well as website auditing and testing. So we want to thank them for being our sponsor on today’s podcast. My name is Chad Chelius. I’m an Adobe Certified Instructor and Accessible Document Specialist, as well as a consultant and trainer.

Accessibility Conference Wrap-up

Dax Castro 
And my name is Dax Castro. I am an Adobe Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer. And I’m also certified by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals as an Accessible Document Specialist. Well, Chad, we are through the gauntlet man. We had Adobe MAX. And then CreativePro week [Design + Accessibility Summit] , which was amazing, by the way. And Accessing Higher Ground in Denver was great. I got to see you, guys. [Yeah]. We had a physical meetup in person. We got to be Chax Chat together. Matter of fact, I think we were… Well, we were in one of the classes and someone said, “Oh my gosh, it’s like listening to an episode of Chax Chat.” I was like, “Yes!”

Dax Castro 
Yeah, it was.

Dax Castro 
Yeah. It was heart-warming.

Dax Castro 
Yeah, it was Creative Pro Week in Seattle.

Chad Chelius 
Yeah, it was super cool. I mean, I haven’t seen you in more than two years for sure.

Chad Chelius 
Yeah. And you know what, Dax? Next time somebody says, “Hey, do you want to do two conferences in one week?” Remind me to say no. [Yeah]. But at all kidding aside, it was fantastic. It worked out. And both conferences were very well received. And it was great. It was also great seeing people again, right? You know what I mean. It’s not just you and I, it’s just being able to talk with people about their challenges and their experiences. It was fantastic.

The Validity of PDF as a format in Higher Education

Dax Castro 
There’s something about being face to face when someone says, “Hey, can you come take a look at this?” It’s just different. [it really is] let me share screens real quick. You know, what was interesting was one of the panels I was on was about the idea that Adobe Acrobat should no longer be an accepted format [in Higher Ed] because of the difficulty in making documents accessible that it should be a banned format. Now, Accessing Higher Ground – for those of you who don’t know – is a Higher Ed conference about accessibility. And really… So these are teachers and professors who are trying to do other jobs, who are trying to get the students the information they need and the content they can digest. And so I totally understand, but it was a unique experience being on that panel and talking and hearing the opinions of people [of] whom remediation isn’t part of their real job, it’s an extra that they’ve got to do on top. And one of the people,

Susan said, “It’s the 80-20 rule. 80% of my people only take up 20% of my time, but it’s the 20% of the people that take up 80% of my time.”

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager at University of Colorado Boulder

Dax Castro 
And that’s really I was like, “Wow! That’s really true.” So I totally understood where she was coming from and where that was coming from. But it was just one of those things where… You know, when you come from the aspect of, “I don’t know this. I’m not supposed to know this. I just need this information for my people. Why can’t Adobe get their stuff together and make the tool work the way it’s supposed to work?” I totally understand. But there’s nuances to all of it. And we had a good discussion. It was a really good thing. I’ve recorded the entire session. I’m trying to post it, but it’s in my phone and I just have to get it out. It was an hour long discussion. It was good, though.

Chad Chelius 
And just to be clear, you’re talking about the PDF format. I think you said like Acrobat. [Oh yes]. I just wanted to… I knew what you meant but I wanted to make sure everybody who is listening was clear on that too. But listen, I have been ingrained in the PDF format for 25 years, right? I mean that when PDF first came out, the brilliance of the PDF format was that it was, and to be fair, it still is… the only format that can guarantee that my document is going to look the same on everyone’s computer regardless of platform. [Right]. I can’t do that with any other format.

Dax Castro 
Well, Portable Document Format.

Chad Chelius 
That’s exactly right. That’s where the name came from. The appeal of the PDF format has always been visual, but when they added the tag structure to the document, now the brilliance to me is that I can make sure that it’s visually correct, but also correct for anybody using assistive technology. So to me, that’s the real benefit. It’s that it serves multiple purposes, right? I mean, it’s not just for one or the other. And again, we don’t want to debate that here and now.

Chad Chelius 
But speaking of panels, you and I sat on another panel that talked about accessibility tools and services that you need to use. And that was a really good one as well. Just because it was great to hear… You know, there were four of us. Yep, there were four of us on the panel. And what we were just talking about is what additional tools do you use to make documents accessible that you want to share with everybody. And there were a lot of them. There are a lot of really great tools that people are using. So cool.

Accessibility Roles and Careers

Dax Castro 
So today, Chad, I wanted to talk about something that came up in our Facebook Group PDF Accessibility, someone had asked about the salary ranges. They said, “Hey, I’m getting some certification. I want to know how that impacts my salary.” And I thought, “Well, there’s really not a lot of data out there about what salary ranges are for jobs and accessibility.” And so I did a little bit of digging and I kind of gave her some numbers. And I said, “Well, it depends on kind of your role and kind of what the company is and where you live and a lot of different factors.” But it got me thinking, and in the post, I said, “Hey, we should probably do a podcast episode about that.” So today’s main subject, the topic, I wanted to spend the majority of the time talking about is roles and accessibility from a professional level.

Chad Chelius 
Yeah. And I think that’s a topic that a lot of people are curious about. Because to be fair, I mean, a lot of people are getting into this out of necessity, right? [Right]. I mean, within their organization, they need somebody to do this. And they’re like, “Hey John, or hey Susie, we want you to take on.” And so people are now learning these new skills. [Right]. And I think it’s bringing up that natural question of, “Okay, I’m now learning these skills, I’m more valuable as an employee, what does that mean for me from a salary perspective?”

Dax Castro 
Right. I mean, my role when I first started, accessibility was Presentation Specialist. My job was making PowerPoints and videos and animations and things like that. And it was not accessibility as a main role. And as I learned more, my role kind of shifted. And I will say you probably should start out by talking about what are kind of the different levels of accessibility as a role.

Dax Castro 
I mean, of course, there’s always the management role. You want to be the accessibility product manager for a specific product or service. And if you want to be a manager, then really, you’re looking at like the CPACC certification. And that’s… You know, almost every one of the positions that I looked at had some level of we want either the CPACC (which is the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies by the International Association of professionals) or the Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS). And I didn’t see any accessible document specialist, but we know that’s a new [certification] format that just came out, right? [Sure]. So we’re not gonna see that. But as a manager, really CPACC gives you the foundation of, “I understand accessibility, they know what it’s about, and maybe I’m managing the policies or the accessibility kind of company wide, right?”

Dax Castro 
And then there’s the senior subject matter expert. So this is the “I know all the rules. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been… You know, I can give guidance. I can do training. I can teach. You know, I am the subject matter expert.”

Dax Castro 
And those… You know, depending upon whether you’re web or a document specialist, you really should have a CPACC, WAS or the ADS, right?

Dax Castro 
And then there’s the web accessibility, which is really something I know a fair bit about, I would say more than enough to be dangerous, but I’m not a web-accessibility-first kind of guy. I don’t know, I couldn’t rattle off a bunch of ARIA codes, but I can tell you what they’re all for and what they do and why you would use them. But the Web Accessibility Specialists (WAS), that’s another great one. And then [is], you know, what we do, which is document remediation, right? [Yeah]. And there’s, of course, different levels of that. So those are kind of the roles. And I thought, Chad, that we would take a look at some. I went through and did some research on… You know, I did about a dozen jobs. I looked at about 30 or 40, but I wanted to focus on about a dozen of them. We’re not going to go through every one. But I thought you and I could kind of pull up the job descriptions. And we’re not going to mention the companies, but we’ll pull up some job descriptions and talk about what they’re asking for and give you guys a better idea of what it is that you should be thinking about as far as a skill set and what you can expect to earn.

Chad Chelius 
I think that’s a great idea, Dax. Yeah, so I pulled one up here. One that’s closer to my heart, which was Document Remediator, right? [Right]. And this is a job posting on LinkedIn. You know, they’re basically looking for somebody who can provide document remediation services within their organization – prepare, test and analyze the documents. And it’s worth noting that some of these job positions are specifically asking for knowledge of certain third party products, right? [Right]. So within that company, they have embraced a certain tool that they’re using for document remediation. And as part of this position, the knowledge of that tool is one of the requirements. They’re looking for somebody who has a thorough understanding of Section 508, a WCAG. right? [Right]. They doesn’t mention PDF/UA on this one, but they certainly do mention WCAG and to be fair, in the US, that’s pretty common. Wouldn’t you agree?

Why PDF/UA as a Standard?

Dax Castro 
Yeah! You know, when I went through a lot of these jobs, I think I only saw PDF/UA, maybe, in 5%. But see, here’s the thing about PDF/UA that people don’t understand. Right now, we’re really in the reactionary mode. The only format is Acrobat. I mean, it’s not the only format. But it’s the most common format by far, right? And what does PDF/UA compliance get you? It gets you a document that you can then repurpose, reflow, reuse, present to the user in a different way, and feel confident that all of the things that you’ve done, all of the tagging, all of the compartmentalization of that document are then accessible to other technologies. And we’re not there yet, right? [Right]. This is really cutting edge. And maybe in five years or a couple years, there’s going to be a new reader out. I mean, it’s not just about Acrobat, I mean, TextHelp’s Read&Write program is really for people with cognitive disability. It’s not for people who have sight disability, right? And so those types of things, they’ll progress. And they’ll be different. And maybe, being able to repurpose that content, I guess, is where I’m going with all this.

Dax Castro 
Being able to repurpose the content, is what PDF/UA helps you do, because it makes sure that your code is exactly right. That the way you’ve used certain tags and the hierarchy that you’ve used them in, conforms with a standard.

Dax Castro 
So it’s definitely… I realized why a lot of companies aren’t really there yet. Because the technology is not pushing them to be there yet. And when it gets there… You know, when that is available, you’ll see a shift. So where I’m going with all of this, Chad, is for all of our listeners, if you are not thinking about PDF/UA, you really should start, because it’s gonna be a sought after skill set that really presents a more accessible experience.

Chad Chelius 
Absolutely. And I’ve kind of changed my position a little bit because I think there was a misconception for a while that PDF/UA compliance was harder to achieve than WCAG. And I think that’s really only from the outset because to be quite honest, I mean, I’m shooting for PDF/UA 100% of the time, for the most part. And honestly, it’s really not a whole lot of extra work to meet that standard.

Document Accessibility Salary Ranges and Expectations

Dax Castro 
It’s just different errors. And it’s just being sure that you’ve nested things the right way; that the right tags are present. [Yeah]. You know, all of that stuff is there. So you know, that was Document Remediator. And the salary range for Document Remediator looks like it’s between $50,000 and $80,000. This happens to be in Colorado. [Yeah]. So you know depending upon where you live, if you live in San Francisco, probably 50~80 grand is going to get you a one room shack in who-knows-where. [Yeah]. But that gives you an idea of kind of what you can expect.

Dax Castro 
You know, one of the other roles I thought was interesting is, there is a Senior Compliance Document Reviewer. And that was an interesting one. And that one… So it seems like from the title, Senior 508 Compliance Document Reviewer. You are thinking “senior,” okay, it’s gonna be… You know, this is upper… You know, someone with more than just a year or two experience, right? And if you look at the requirements, it’s basically: Reviewing all of the normal stuff, reviewing documents in PDF and Office for Section 508 compliance, remediating the files to be appropriate and compliant, developing alt-text, link name, structure. They list all the different rules. And then work collaboratively with internal customers and colleagues and creative services. Basically, you’re going around training everybody on accessibility, ensuring that the documents are all in the right format, keeping current with all of the regulations, collaborating with everyone, and exhibiting of client-first philosophy, being able to work independently. I mean, this is a senior position, right? And then you get down to the education. It requires a Bachelor’s degree and you’ve got to have three or more years of experience providing section 508. And then you get down to the salary and they only are paying $44,000 to $55,000 a year. And I’m just like, [yeah] wow!

Chad Chelius 
I mean, that’s a lot of expertise in my opinion for that salary range. And my question is, “Is this company just getting into this? Are they just beginning to do this?” You know, you wonder if they don’t really understand the importance or the amount of effort required for this position?

Dax Castro 
I think that’s a really good point, Chad, because a lot of the time, these companies are filling a role that they’re not really sure what the role is, right? [True]. Accessibility is new to them. And so they’re like, “Okay, we’re getting enough of this that we really need to have this as a role.” And one of the reasons we’re doing this podcast is because of the role of “Accessibility X”, you know, whatever position, is becoming more and more of a hired position rather than just an additional duty of what you were doing already. So a lot of these companies… This is the first time they’ve ever advertised for this kind of role. And they’re really not sure [sure] what to do.

Chad Chelius 
And I think a lot of times, and the mistake that I see companies making is they’ll try to tack accessibility on to somebody’s existing job, [yeah] right? They’ll be like, “Oh well, you know, Suzy has some extra time in her schedule. Let’s make her the accessibility person.” And I’ll tell you that in my experience, it typically doesn’t work, because…

The Importance of Training your Accessibility Professionals

Dax Castro 
You know, it doesn’t work because they don’t want to train the employees, right? They want them to take on this role. And I can hear all of our jacks that listeners smiling from ear to ear right now, because it’s, [yeah], you’ve been tapped. We want you to know this, “Oh, go find it on the web, go watch some YouTube videos.” You want to go to a training. Oh no, we don’t have the budget for that. Wait a minute, you just gave me a new role. You’re gonna be making money off of my role. You want me to be the best I can have that role, but yet, you’re not willing to train me, to get what the train I need to know to be good at that role. I mean, that’s such an oxymoron. And not to beat this company up, they happen to be in the data visualization biz. So it is their… That person’s role is already harder because it’s probably a lot of charts and graphs and infographics that they’re gonna have to remediate. And wow, it’s a – yeah – interesting thing.

Chad Chelius 
And you know, you brought something up Dax, because you know, you and I… You know, as we interact with users, whether it’s via training or at conferences. I can tell you last week at the Accessing Higher Ground conference, a girl came up to me, and she was asking me some questions about issues she was having. And I actually can’t remember exactly which ones they were off the top of my head. But I explained to her what was going on. And she said, “You just answered in 10 minutes what I’ve been struggling to figure out for three months.” [Yeah]. And I mean, I can only imagine how frustrating it is for her. But you know, I mean, to be fair, that’s where getting some proper training or whatever type of training that is… Again, I’m a bit biased because that’s my role, but you know, training can take your learning timeframe from a year to two years and reduce it down considerably. You know what I mean. Because you’re not chasing your tail.

Dax Castro 
Well, you know, Chad, it’s funny. You know, [at] my last role I was the SME. I was the subject matter expert at the company I worked for. And I would tell the teams, I would say, “Look, if you spend more than 15 minutes struggling, because sometimes a struggle is worth it, right? You learn by struggling. If you spend more than 15 minutes struggling to learn something, reach out to me. Do not spend all day long, eight hours trying to solve a problem. I can solve for you in five minutes.” Now, you and I know that part of the reason this podcast was even born was the fact that we would throw things against each other and kind of go, “Hey, what do you think about this? And what should we do here? And you know, here’s a couple different approaches, which one’s the best?” But there’s a lot of people who don’t have that. And I will say to anyone listening to this podcast right now, feel free to reach out to Chad and I. Find us on LinkedIn. Go to the Facebook group. We’re there for you. I mean, this is really what we do. I live and breathe this stuff. You know, it is really a sense of accomplishment for me anyway when I can hear the relief in a person’s voice and go, “Wow! I hadn’t thought of that. Or oh, thank you so much for solving that for me. I’ve been struggling.” Or maybe they give me a different approach I hadn’t really thought of. It’s just really satisfying, you know?

Chad Chelius 
Absolutely.

Salary Ranges of Accessibility Professionals

Dax Castro 
Yeah! you know, I want to talk a little bit [and] just focus on the salary ranges just to kind of put everything in couple of sentences here. So if you’re a senior accessibility specialist or a senior role, whether that’s like a VP or an accessibility product manager or company wide accessibility leader, you’re looking at anywhere from $75,000 to $160,000, as a kind of a salary range. Now, of course, this is just based on a little bit of research that I’ve done, and kind of world according to Dax, so that doesn’t mean you should walk into somebody’s company and demand something or another, but if you walk in, and they give you a $55,000 salary range, and you’re an accessibility product manager, there’s a mismatch there, right? And if you’re remediator, you’re looking at anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 depending upon kind of what your role is, right? If you’re just hanging all day long, you’re probably somewhere in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. If you’ve got some extra responsibilities that start scaling up, maybe you’re $60,000 to $80,000, you know, $60,000 to $75,000. And then if you’re a senior tagger or a senior remediation specialist, you’re probably looking at somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000, again, depending upon where you live, right?

Contract positions in Accessibility

But I will say, there’s a contract job that I see almost every single day on LinkedIn. That is… and I will mention this company just because they’re always out there. It’s Wells Fargo. They deal with a lot with the digital documents, right? They have a lot of documents to process. So they’re always hiring contract employees. And that’s… One of the other roles is you can be an accessibility remediation specialist as a contractor and take these sides… You know, they’re not really side jobs, they’re contract jobs for a certain period of time. And those can run anywhere from… This one happens to be $77,000 to $162,000. It’s a really wide swing.

Chad Chelius 
It really is.

Dax Castro 
I’m really interested to know, kind of why there’s such a wide swing there. But that is the case.

Accessibility as a Core Value

Chad Chelius 
Well, I would… Like I said, in some ways, I would go back to the company and their understanding of the role and their understanding of the importance of the role. And I think that in turn is going to dictate the value in which they assigned to these positions. [Right]. You know what I mean. Like, I think a company that really understands the importance of this and understands the potential ramifications of not doing this, they’re going to be like, “Wow!” Like, we need somebody who knows what they’re doing. And this is an important role. And you’re likely going to see a higher salary range there. So I would say to our listeners who are kind of like looking at positions, “Definitely try to find a company that values what you’re doing, that values accessibility.” And I think to some degree, you can kind of get an idea as you’re reading the descriptions of whether it’s like “Hey, we just have to do this and we need somebody” versus, “We believe in this. We know we need to do this. And this is really important.” And I think that’s what you have to kind of focus on.

The Importance of Testing with a Screen Reader

Dax Castro 
Yeah. You know, I’m looking at this job description. And it’s three plus years’ experience testing with JAWS, NVDA, voiceover or talkback. Guys, if you’re not testing with a screen reader, if it’s not part of your workflow, get there! Whatever you’ve got to do to get there, get there. In fact, I’ve been thinking about… You know, maybe… Well, Chad and I, we’ve been thinking of talking about doing a webinar on testing documents with a screen reader and kind of how to do that. So you may see that up and coming. You know, one of the other things that I see in a lot of these posts are the ability to do VPAT, to analyze a VPAT. And I think Chad, we probably should put that on as a podcast topic for the future, kind of walking through a VPAT and giving people an idea what you’re looking for and what a VPAT actually does, right?

Dax Castro 
Absolutely!

What is a VPAT?

Dax Castro 
So VPAT – for those who don’t know – is Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, right? And basically, it’s a litmus test of how well your software conforms with accessibility. And right now, they’re kind of confusing. And they’re a little hard to understand. And just because someone has a VPAT, it doesn’t mean that their product is accessible. You have to really kind of look through it. And we’re gonna… You know, let’s do a podcast on that. I think that’d be great.

Chad Chelius 
Yeah, I think that’d be awesome, Dax.

Accessibility Skills You Should Know

Dax Castro 
So I wanted… So you know, voiceover, JAWS, NVDA, TalkBack… You know, of course, if you don’t know ARIA tags, if you’re in the web space, you should know ARIA tags. I mean, that’s kind of part and parcel for what you’re doing. But as a document remediation specialist, really, ARIA tags is just something you hear about, you know, what’s out there. So I don’t know that… You know, if you’ve got an interest to move from document accessibility to web accessibility, then maybe that’s a topic you want to tackle. But this person is looking for the Wells Fargo job. They’re looking for six plus years of experience. I mean, this is a higher level job. And I think the more experience you have, the farther up that salary range you go. But guys, don’t be afraid to apply for a job if you’ve got at least one year. I will tell you that you really should strive to have one-year worth of experience tagging and understanding document accessibility to be a valuable employee for a company as a new hire, right? If you’re in a company, and you’re just new to this, of course, everybody’s got to start somewhere. So realize that the last thing you want to do is going into a new company and feel like you’re struggling some basic stuff. The accessible document specialist test is definitely a great test to pass. If you can pass that test, you’re ready. You’re good.

Chad Chelius 
Yep. And we’ll chat about this after the podcast, Dax. But there’s somebody I have in mind who might be a great person to be a guest on our podcast and talk about VPATs and [oh great] to them. So we’ll definitely talk about that.

Accessibility Roles and Titles to search for

Dax Castro 
Awesome. One of the other things I wanted to talk about, Chad, was some of the roles, the titles to search for, if you’re looking for a job in accessibility, right? So there’s like Accessibility Program Manager, Accessibility Subject Matter Expert, Accessibility Expert. These are just some of the titles that I looked up. Senior Accessibility Support Specialist, Accessibility Consultant, Web Accessibility Specialist, and of course, Document Remediator, which I didn’t really find a whole lot of job titles that were specifically document remediator. Because I think if you’re looking for document remediator job, you’re really are looking for a role where you’re at the tactical end of it. You’re just remediating all day long. And that’s a specific skill set with a specific mindset for people who are “I really enjoy just doing the tag work”, which I know a few of those people. They love dissecting tables and making them work. Katie Schwartz is one of those people that comes to mind. She’s a good friend of mine at Jacobs. She loves her tables, I tell you. So those are some of the things I found.

Chad Chelius 
And what’s funny is almost all of these roles have the word accessibility in the title. [Right]. Document remediator was like the first one that did not. [That’s true]. So that is a very specific role that they’re looking for, but other roles that we were seeing were Senior Accessibility Subject Matter Expert, Digital Accessibility Leader, Digital Accessibility Technical Lead, Digital Consultant four. I’m not sure what that really means. Yeah, that might be like a level.

Dax Castro 
Yeah. It’s like GSE. [Okay]. When you’re in the government, you’ve got different levels. I think Wells Fargo kind of has adopted that levels kind of thing.

Chad Chelius 
Sure. So we’ll just say Digital Consultant, Accessibility Testing, Manager Accessibility COE. Actually, I don’t know what that acronym stands for to you.

Dax Castro 
Yeah. So, COE stands for, I think Community… Let’s see, it is Center for Excellence. So it says the Accessibility Center for Excellence has been established to set goals, jive progress, consult and partner with groups across core business functions to help make all aspects of this company more accessible. [Got it]. So their COE, it’s kind of like they’re kind of a think tank, I guess.

Chad Chelius 
Okay. And then we have Senior 508 Compliance Reviewer, 508 Subject Matter Expert, and then 508 Compliance Specialist and Desktop Publisher with Security Clearance.

Dax Castro 
So that’s just…

Chad Chelius 
You know, when you add security clearance, that’s a whole other… you know, from what I understand that can be a several month long process getting your security clearance, but somebody who is in the military is very likely may already have that security clearance. And that could be a role that they could step into.

Dax Castro 
Right. And this one, actually, the salary ranges $64,000 to $97,000 a year. And it says it’s Defense and Space. So this is in Arlington, Virginia. So I’m assuming that’s going to be… You’ll be a civilian working for the military.

Dax Castro 
It’s probably DOD.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions about the Accessibility Roles & Responsibilities

Dax Castro 
Yeah, so interesting. So those are some of the roles, but if you just search for accessibility, It’ll kind of be a little bit of a hunt. So just be patient and just start searching around. Make sure that your experience that you’ve got matches with what they’re looking for and be prepared. If they’re asking for everything in the kitchen sink… If you get to that interview stage, start asking questions about what did they really expect from the single person and where do they expect this role to grow to, because if they’re hiring their very first accessibility person as a role, sometimes it’s the role of four or five people or two or three people that they’re putting in one job description.

Chad Chelius 
You know, it’s the shotgun approach, right? I mean, you and I were talking about this a little bit before we started the podcast today. And back in the early 2000s, like 2009 or so, a lot of you may remember that the interesting little hiccup in the economy that occurred at that time. You know, when they were looking for… You know, when you would look at the job postings around that time in this space of design and everything, they wanted you to know InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX. And you know what, you would look at these, and you’re like, “Who knows all of those things?” And the reality is, very few people do. And especially if you look at the salary range, if the salary range is like, $50,000, nobody knows all of that at that salary range. So to your point, Dax, start asking questions and find out really what are they looking for, [right] because a lot of times, they’ll just do the shotgun approach and just throw out as many possible options as they can. And then hopefully, they get somebody who knows several of them and they’ll take it from there.

Dax Castro 
Well, you know, the other thing too, is if you can come back and kind of say, “Look, here’s how all these roles affect each other, all these skill sets affect each other, and what they’re actually asking for, it can help you seem stand out, right?” If you can dissect their requirements to say, “Look, [that’s true] these five things are really one person and these five things or another.” It sets you up as a knowledgeable person saying, “Hey, this guy really understands or this person really understands the role of what it is to be an accessibility specialist or manager or SME.” I mean, there was a senior 508 compliance document reviewer and they literally have a ton of different requirements, in addition to being a proficient in a bunch of different skills and having a background with a bachelor’s degree, three or more years’ experience in all of this, and the salary range was $44,000 to $55,000 a year. Like, “Good luck with that.”

The Future of Accessibility Roles in the Job Market

Dax Castro 
Well, I hope that this podcast has given some of you a little bit of insight kind of into how much can I make as an accessibility specialist, because there’s different roles, whether you’re in management or senior role or you’re a document mediator or a web accessibility specialist, of course, you know, and kind of what to look for. And that’s because I think it’s a good topic. And really, guys, this role is not going anywhere. If anything, it’s going to increase as time goes on. Because [yeah] you know, the world is taking notice. And as digital access to digital content is becoming… I mean, it’s not becoming, it is a right and it is in our pocket all the time. We have cell phones. We’re connected digitally in every single way. It’s literally not going anywhere. It’s ingrained in everything we do.

Catch us at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference

Dax Castro 
Well, before we go, Chad, I wanted to let everybody know that our next conference is CSUN. So the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference down in LA next year in March. So be looking for more information about that. You and I are both speaking. In fact, we’re going to be presenting together for the first time at the same time, which is going to be really great. I’m looking forward to it.

Chad Chelius 
It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great conference. This one is also in person. So we’re slowly starting to see some of these conferences open it up and be in person again. And I just want everybody to know that all of these conferences have been very respectful of the COVID situation and masks have been required. Everybody is taking safety precautions. And so it’s a pretty safe environment. But check out the CSUN website. And you’ll see all the sessions that are currently lined up. And I think there’s gonna be more being added as we go.

Dax Castro 
Yeah, definitely. And I know that as teachers, as facilitators, we had to show our vaccination status to facilitate there. So at least for the last one for Accessing Higher Ground, for sure. Awesome, Chad. Well, thanks again. It’s been great. And another podcast in the books.

Chad Chelius 
Absolutely. So we want to thank everybody for joining us again on today’s podcast. And we also want to thank AbleDocs for being our sponsor. AbleDocs is makers of axesWord, axesPDF, document remediation services, as well as website auditing and testing. My name is Chad Chelius,

Dax Castro 
and my name is Dax Castro, where each week we unravel accessibility for you.

Chad Chelius 
Thanks, guys.

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