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I'm a junior web accessibility specialist and currently I'm building my portfolio, basically from scratch. But because I don't have any experience (one project for non-profit as web-developer, and some other non-profit things that are not really related to web accessibility), I have serious doubts of how to make this right, so potential client/company won't think something I am not.

The thing is, the only way I may come up with is … critics :) Otherwise I will have to do the work for them - and obviously that's a noway. But on the other hand, critics (even though are a good thing to improve something) are taken mostly bad. And for that reason I'm afraid I'll become some arrogant in eyes of a potential client/company, and obviously I won't be taken as one to hire/work with.

With this in mind, how should I build my web accessibility portfolio without any work experience so far? Should I critic the current websites that are suppose to be accessible, but actually are not? Or perhaps there's some other way to show my web accessibility skills without revealing much of pain points of the criticized subject?

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This is quite a common question for juniors just starting out.

With critics your not far off.

When you come across a terribly inaccessible website, write about it. Say what's wrong, why it's wrong and propose, perhaps even build a solution. Show your process. The steps you take. It's not always about the end product, but you should be able to show your capable. An employer knows that when he hires a junior, they've had little chances of actually doing any real projects.

So, make a blog or write small use cases where you write about good or bad implementation of accessibility you come across on a daily basis. Stay busy.

Good luck.

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With this in mind, how should I build my web accessibility portfolio without any work experience so far?

What Paul said - and to dig into that further - the goal of the portfolio you don't yet have is to demonstrate practical competency. It seems like a catch-22, but you don't have to wait for someone to commission an accessibility critique from you.

Go find a website and make an example of it. Critique it from an accessibility standpoint and provide rationale and suggestions for improvement. Do this as an exercise just for your own enrichment, and the results can then be something you put in your portfolio.

As one example, Behance is full of speculative redesigns of well-known products. Some are good, some aren't as interesting but most of those I think were completed in order to build up a portfolio and demonstrate skills.

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I had a lot of luck with doing specific use cases for start ups. For a low rate. But be careful with that. Before you know it your name will circulate and the rate too and that can be a bit of bad side effect ;)

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