Training and credentialing ignite a passion for learning and should be open to all. In fact, reskilling employees has become a critical tool for organizations seeking to retain employees as the workplace evolves. Credentialing is also crucial for professionals wanting to secure opportunities in the gig economy.

But there’s an urgency for certifications and training to be done more inclusively and for businesses to establish appropriate policies and procedures — both for administering internal training or ensuring that third-party credentialing platforms are legit.

Use these tips to ensure your organization’s certification exams and programs are accessible and inclusive for all employees.

Check Different Standards and Be Aware of Limitations

Many people believe that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a standard to make all web-based applications more accessible to people with disabilities, are primarily intended for web developers or, even more specifically, web accessibility evaluation tool developers. But due to this pre-conceived perception, general managers don’t have enough awareness of these accessibility standards.

Managers must be held accountable and have a basic understanding of accessibility best practices to ensure that internal operations follow the rules and that, if a technology provider helps with training or certifications, they are compliant, too.

The applications used for online tests and certifications must follow best practices such as:

  • Providing text alternatives for non-text content.
  • Making text readable and understandable.
  • Presenting content in different ways, including using assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
  • Making it easier for users to see and hear content.
  • Allowing readers to change text and background color

When you are delivering training or exams as a company, you need to ensure that the content, application, and website are designed in a way that’s consumable for all. Therefore, stay up to date with the latest WCAG updates: The WCAG 2.2 draft is scheduled to be finalized by September 2022.

Know the Difference Between Accessibility and Inclusivity

Accessibility is often related to standards, such as WCAG, that show organizations how to ensure people with physical or neurological disabilities are given the same opportunities as everyone else. The term can also encompass making certification exams and online training suit people’s work hours, time zones and personal commitments.

Inclusivity goes beyond the acknowledgment of people’s abilities and hands responsibility to organizations, where biases can occur during training or certification exams and impact decision-making. It doesn’t specifically address a particular need or problem that people have but encourages organizations and business leaders to take real action to combat bias in all its forms.

For example, just like job descriptions, companies’ online assessments for employees or descriptions of vendor-approved certifications could use a tone that favors male candidates. That’s because people who create those tests can have inherent gender, race and background biases. Language and tone can be key factors in creating training and certifications that cultivate inclusion and belonging.

Organizations must put the necessary tools in place — such as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered proctoring services — to monitor certification exams and ensure existing employees are assessed on a level playing field. No candidate applying for a job should have a position of advantage either. Everybody should follow the same rules and have access to the same resources, whether they are taking an internal training or completing external certifications.

AI Technology and Proctoring to Help with DEI

First things first, online certification exam invigilation enables employees or candidates to take tests from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for physical exam centers and boosting accessibility and inclusiveness.

Additionally, using a mixture of human and AI-based proctoring ensures that everybody follows the same set of rules, creating a level playing field. Talent measurement platforms and AI-powered proctoring solutions have a rigorous process for vetting and training live proctors and maintain the utmost data integrity by complying with global industry practices.

There are also multiple layers of authentication and fraud detection to protect the integrity of exams and learners. Watermark or lockdown exam browsers can prevent unauthorized access to test browsers and reduce activities such as screen recording, website browsing, and cut and paste.

Companies wanting to upskill and reskill their workforce should rely on human proctors but also have a second opinion with AI proctoring technology. Human proctors, just like interviewers, could bring subconscious bias to the table and penalize an employee or candidate for little reason. AI can flag this as malpractice if they disagree, meaning the human proctor would need to justify their decision-making. Having data-backed insights during a situation like this would mean the information is valid and authentic.

Digital proctoring software is much more than standard facial and voice recognition, which has faced scrutiny about reinforcing systematic oppression. These issues have only arisen as some online proctoring companies use generic off-the-shelf image recognition and machine learning software to monitor test-takers. Also, organizations must ensure that any tech provider they use efficiently trains AI and does rigorous testing.

The point is that employees or candidates may feel more comfortable with AI proctoring than human proctoring, which they can see as intrusive and often distracting.

Ultimately, it should be up to the learner to decide how they want to go through the certification exam process, and companies must be prepared to offer them the options to be more inclusive. Complete online exam monitoring is just particularly needed for any large-scale examination requirements. And companies can easily comply with all accessibility requirements by following the standards’ updates.