Boost your accessibility skills with the CPACC Exam | by Allie Paschal | Jan, 2024


The exam is 100 questions; each question is single-choice from a selection of four answers. You have 120 minutes or 2 hours to complete the exam, unless you need an accommodation for more time which can be arranged.

The makeup of the exam reviews three main topics:

  1. Disabilities, Challenges, and Assistive Technologies: This topic surrounds the Models of Disability, understanding categories and characteristics of disabilities, and identifying appropriate assistive technologies and adaptive strategies.
  2. Accessibility and Universal Design: This topic surrounds identifying and applying accessibility principles from WCAG 2.1 standards, principles of Universal Design, as well as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
  3. Standards, Laws, and Management Strategies: This topic includes identifying international conventions on disability rights, global laws and regulations, and integrating accessibility within an organization.

I know these topics may seem overwhelming to read through, especially if you’re completely unfamiliar in certain subject areas such as the UDL or accessibility-focused legislation. Trust me, I was too. But after but after you start to sift through the content, you’ll realize how interconnected the topics are to each other and to information you probably already know.

Also, it’s unnecessary to know every detail surrounding a topic. The exam asks that you understand the content enough to be able to recognize and apply your knowledge when asked a certain question. For instance, you don’t need to know the year the UN Declaration of Human Rights was created, but you do need to know how it catalyzed an analysis into who needs further legislation protection; signaling a shift in viewing people with disabilities with a social model* perspective.

*I’ll let you do the studying to figure out what this means (wink-wink).

Eleanor Roosevelt holds up a copy of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in December 1948.
Eleanor Roosevelt holding a copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, photo courtesy of NPR

The IAAP recommends you study 5 to 10 hours per week for 6 to 8 weeks before the exam date to prepare. So at minimum, you’ve studied for 30 hours before taking the exam. I personally studied on and off for four months, but knew I had at least 30 hours of studying under my belt.

I decided I was ready to take the exam when I felt like my studying had plateaued. I also gave myself a deadline to take the exam by the end of 2023. The mix of my ‘gut feeling’ and deadline motivated me to attempt the exam, which I took full advantage of by taking the exam the very last day it was offered in 2023 😅.

I. Read the Deque University CPACC Prep course

To start my studying process, I purchased Deque University’s CPACC preparation course. At the time of my purchase in June 2023, it cost about $60*. After my application for the course was approved after one business day, I got access to the course for one year from the date of approval. If needed, I will have to repurchase the course after this year mark.

*All Deque curriculum and courses are free for people with disabilities!

Screenshot showing the Table of Contents and outline for the Deque University CPACC prep materials through their course website.
Table of Contents for the Deque CPACC prep materials

The content in the Deque course is sectioned almost exactly as the IAAP’s content outline for the CPACC, and all necessary information is defined in the material. To me, the material was interesting so I felt like I was flying through the course during my first read-through. Deque also includes a small quiz* after each sub-section, which was beneficial to quickly test my knowledge and see if I needed to reread a certain section.

*These quizzes are not representative of real questions you will see on the CPACC exam.

II. Read the IAAP Body of Knowledge

After going through the Deque materials and making my own Google Docs notes throughout the course, I read through the IAAP’s Body of Knowledge for the CPACC exam. I found the Body the Knowledge to be a great supplementary resource to the Deque course, but I don’t think reading ONLY the Body of Knowledge would have been enough; at least for me.

III. Create a Quizlet and/or read ‘100 Days of A11y’

For lesser IAAP-approved studying materials, I made a personal Quizlet to go through flashcards on specific topics and terms, as well as reading through this blog called “100 Days of A11y” by Amy Carney.

Screenshot showing the table of contents or outline on the website for the 100 Days of A11y blog by Amy Carney.
100 Days of A11y blog by Amy Carney

IV. Practice test?

Now, I know what you’re thinking; is there a sample exam I can take? Unfortunately, no. At least not for free. The IAAP promotes a partnership with Princeton University CPACC prep materials, which also comes with a practice exam, but for the price of $195*. Given that the cost of the CPACC exam alone is $485 alone, I relied on my study methods and reading.

*The Princeton CPACC course is free if you’re an IAAP member.

For an idea of what questions will look like on the exam, the IAAP does offer ten sample questions you can refer to.

As for other prep materials, if you want to explore resources outside Deque, the IAAP lists two other approved providers, which are Funka’s CPACC Certification Program and Hearcolors’ on-demand CPACC preparation course which is in Spanish.


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