Almost a week ago, I published Overlays are here to stay. So are "male enhancement pills", a reaction to Ken Nakata’s Best Practices for Overlays. Ken got a bit upset by the title of my post, but after a quick chat over the phone we made up. This is a good thing, because I like and respect Ken quite a bit.
But, there’s still a problem. It appears that some, or all, of Ken’s "Best Practices for Overlays" come at the request of IAAP, and I’m more than a little confused. I’m not sure I understand the motivation behind the IAAP writing up a list of "Best Practices" for a specific type of product. Does the IAAP have plans to write a similar guide for automated testing tools or assistive technologies? I’m willing to bet that IAAP has no plans at all to become a standards making body for accessibility related software.
So why are they having Ken Nakata write up these Best Practices for Overlays? It turns out that this is, ostensibly, a building block toward a further effort that will also include a grievance process and even a committee of sorts that will handle complaints of member misconduct. On the surface these are good things. But I ask again: Where do these Best Practices come in, and why is this only aimed at overlays?
Behind-the-scenes, this seems influenced by two specific overlay companies. These same two companies have been rumored to be attempting to create legitimacy elsewhere as well. Consider this possible future scenario: Sometime in the future, a large number of members call IAAP to the carpet for their support of overlays (as was the case this past January), these overlay vendors can then claim legitimacy by stating that they adhere to the IAAP "Best Practices for Overlays" as a way to deflect the negative public opinion.
There needs to only be one best practice for overlays: Stop Lying
At this point, it is fair to say that few people in our field have put out as much content on this topic as me and Adrian Roselli. For my part, I’ve been extremely consistent in my message about these products: they lie. They are bad actors in the marketplace.
The false claims made by overlay vendors are harmful to customers, harmful to individual IAAP members, harmful to corporate members of IAAP, and harmful to end users with disabilities. The false claims are a violation of Federal law and all 50 states as well.
The IAAP does not need to create special best practices for overlays or any other type of product. The only thing that the IAAP needs to do is enforce its own Code of Conduct which states clearly:
- Should not knowingly make false claims about their products and services or those of others.
- Should not knowingly make false claims about their abilities, profession, and matters of expertise.
The above should not be limited to overlay companies but any member company of the IAAP. Lying is wrong, and any deceptive actions in the marketplace should be handled aggressively and decisively, for the protection of the rest of the membership, our industry as a whole, customers, and people with disabilities across the world.