I wrote this as a comment in response to Dries' post about the Acquia certification program - I thought I'd share it here too. I've commented there before.
I've also been conflicted about certifications. I still am. And this is because I fully appreciate the pros and cons. The more I've followed the issue, the more conflicted I've become about it.
My current stand, is this. Certifications are a necessary evil. Let me say a little on why that is.
I know many in the Drupal community are not in favour of certification, mostly because it can't possibly adequately validate their experience.
It also feels like an insult to be expected to submit to external assessment after years of service contributing to the code-base, and to the broader landscape of documentation, training, and professional service delivery.
Those in the know, know how to evaluate a fellow Drupalist. We know what to look for, and more importantly where to look. We know how to decode the secret signs. We can mutter the right incantations. We can ask people smart questions that uncover their deeper knowledge, and reveal their relevant experience.
That's our massive head start. Or privilege.
Drupal is now a mature platform for web and digital communications. The new challenge that comes with that maturity, is that non-Drupalists are using Drupal. And non specialists are tasked with ensuring sites are built by competent people. These people don't have time to learn what we know. The best way we can help them, is to support some form of certification.
But there's a flip side. We've all laughed at the learning curve cartoon about Drupal. Because it's true. It is hard. And many people don't know where to start. Whilst a certification isn't going to solve this completely, it will help to solve it, because it begins to codify the knowledge many of us take for granted.
Once that knowledge is codified, it can be studied. Formally in classes, or informally through self-directed exploration and discovery.
It's a starting point.
I empathise with the nay-sayers. I really do. I feel it too. But on balance, I think we have to do this. But even more, I hope we can embrace it with more enthusiasm.
I really wish the Drupal Association had the resources to run and champion the certification system, but the truth is, as Dries outlines above, it's a very time-consuming and expensive proposition to do this work.
So, Acquia - you have my deep, albeit somewhat reluctant, gratitude!
Thanks Dries - great post.
(Drupal Association board member)
I did another video the other day. This time I've got a D7 and D8 install open side by side, and compare the process of adding an article.
I'm speaking at DrupalCon Los Angeles. 5pm, Tuesday 12 May in the 518 - Trellon room.
I first spoke about Constructive Conflict Resolution in Amsterdam at DrupalCon last year. I posted the slides, recording and speakers notes from that talk to the PreviousNext blog.
I'm reprising that talk in Los Angeles because someone else is now unable to make it, and I was asked if I could fill in. When I originally proposed the talk for LA I had planned to rework the slide and narrative - but unfortunately won't have much time to do that before the conference. However this is a conversation starter, and we'll have an opportunity in the room to discuss how we might embrace conflict as a force for good, as a force for progress. How to harness it, how to minimise it's potential for harm.
I hope to see you there!
Constructive Conflict Resolution will be in the core conversations track at DrupalCon Los Angeles.
PSA: If you are a web professional, work in a digital agency or build mobile apps, please read this article now: Taking the social model of disability online
"The social model of disability reframes discussion of disability as a problem of the world, rather than of the individual. The stairs at the train station are the problem, rather than using a wheelchair."
El Gibbs has reminded me of question time during Gian Wild's keynote at Drupal Downunder in 2012. Gian asserts that accessibility guidelines are a legal requirement for everyone, not just Government. There was an audible gasp from the audience.
It's true that our physical environment needs to include ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, reserved parking spaces, etc in order to accommodate those with mobility needs. Multi-lingual societies require multi-lingual signage. There are hearing loops - but for some reason, this "social model" of accessibility doesn't seem to have extended online.
Making the digital world accessible, and counteracting the systemic discriminatory impact of failing to do so is something we must take seriously. We must build this in during planning and design, we must make it easy for content editors to maintain WCAG compliance AFTER a site or app is delivered.
Building accessibility features in from the beginning also means it costs less to implement, and delivers a double win of making the whole team more mindful of these issues to begin with. It should be part of the acceptance criteria, it should be part of the definition of done.
I'd like to see us tackle these issues directly in Drupal core. If you're interested in keeping track of accessibility issues in Drupal, you might like to follow drupala11y on twitter, and check out issues on drupal.org that have been tagged with "accessibility".
Accessibility traps might not affect you now, but they will. This is probably affecting people you know right now. People who silently struggle with small font sizes, poor contrast, cognitive load, keyboard traps, video without captions.
My own eyesight and hearing is not what it was. My once able parents now require mobility aids. My cousin requires an electric wheelchair. A friend uses a braille reader, and yet I still forget. It's not front and centre for me, but it should be. Let's all take a moment to think about how we can focus on making our online and digital world more accessible for everyone. It really does benefit us all.