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Wilson® Accessibility Expert Earns CPACC Certification

IAAP Certified CPACC Logo next to a smiling Nanci S.

Wilson® Accessibility Expert Earns CPACC Certification

Wilson Language Training® (WLT) is proud to announce that Nanci Shepardson, Director of Accessibility and Assistive Technology Solutions, has earned the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) credential of Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). This distinctive credential places WLT in a position to expand its accessibility initiatives. Nanci is one of approximately 3,100 individuals worldwide with this certification.

What is CPACC Certification?

CPACC certification requires a course of study that explores types of disabilities, universal design for learning (UDL), and accessibility laws. Candidates who pass the exam display broad, cross-disciplinary conceptual knowledge about disabilities, accessibility, UDL, and accessibility-related standards, laws, and management strategies.

WLT is one of a select group of companies worldwide that has supported an employee in their journey to gain the credential. This expertise doesn’t stop with Nanci; through her work, she improves accessibility at WLT, benefiting her colleagues, trainers and educators, and students and families.

Education for All

The first iteration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) passed in the 1970s. This law ensures that children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education, including special education and related services. Since its ratification and amendments in 1990, 1997, and 2004, schools and educators have been learning new ways to make education more accessible to students with disabilities.

An appropriate public education addresses the needs of students with disabilities while still giving them an education equitable with their peers. The students continue to learn grade-level content while receiving remedial or special education services. For example, as students with language-based learning disabilities gain reading skills through Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions like Just Words® and Wilson Reading System® (WRS), they still need to master the content of their classes.

“We need to leverage technology while there is a good remediation plan in place to close the gaps,” Nanci explains. “[Students] can access grade-level content using assistive technologies, such as text-to-speech, so they can interact and have conversations with peers about what they are learning.”

Assistive technologies are constantly changing and improving. As the fields of accessibility and assistive technology grow, Nanci is working to keep WLT current with the best options.

The Right Person for the Job

Nanci looks forward to applying additional innovations in accessibility and assistive technology to future projects that will support WLT’s Structured Literacy (SL) programs as well as other aspects of the company’s work.

Prior to coming to WLT as a Senior Educational Technologist in 2017, Nanci worked as a WRS Level I Certified K–12 literacy specialist and school administrator. Her expertise in technology made her stand out as a valuable candidate. Within her first six months at WLT, Nanci led a newly formed team to evaluate and address accessibility throughout the company—from its physical location to its literacy programs. The group worked on tasks such as making the website screen reader-friendly and implementing closed-captioning video resources. Nanci also wrote parts of WRS 4th Edition with an eye toward future accessibility possibilities.

Nanci spent the next few years traveling to conferences and training teachers on how to leverage technology. As she dove deeper into the world of accessibility, she learned about the CPACC credential from other accessibility professionals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, WLT moved a majority of professional learning opportunities to a virtual format. Nanci adjusted her presentations for an online setting to continue supporting teachers. This was an opportune time for Nanci to consider earning the credential for herself. Then, in the fall of 2022, Nanci was promoted to her current director role.

More Work to Do

Today, Nanci and her colleagues identify areas of greatest need in terms of accessibility and assistive technology. They’re currently in the process of writing a company-wide plan for accessibility which Nanci describes as a roadmap.

They will determine future accessibility initiatives based on that plan. Some identified projects include ensuring the renovated website is accessible and all videos are closed-captioned. The team is aiming for a rating of AA Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This designation is important as WLT builds relationships with Higher Education Partners whose online programs require full WCAG compliance.

Nanci also continues to present at in-person and virtual conferences and webinars.  If you’d like to learn more about leveraging assistive technology with Wilson instruction, visit our Assistive Technology page or email Nanci at nshepardson@wilsonlanguage.com.