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									                                AICAD POSITION PAPER

Underlying Principles
AICAD's approach to interior design certification stems from a commitment to the benefits of
open and flexible access to the field for all interior designers. We believe:
 The "body of knowledge" needed to practice in a field exists independently; no one owns it.
  There are a variety of ways to acquire that knowledge. Degree programs are an efficient, but
  not the sole, means to acquire knowledge.
 We need multiple pathways into creative fields due to their varied and dynamic natures.
  Many people can acquire the necessary skills through extended work experience or through
  shorter degree programs combined with other education. Many others have started in one
  area and evolved into competent practitioners in another. Society does not benefit by a nar-
  rowing of access to creative fields.
 Competence is best judged on he basis of the work produced rather than credentials alone.
  Credentials are a result of, but they are not substitutes for, competence. Competence can and
  often does exist in the absence of a credential.
 Our mission as educators is to help produce the best educated designers we can. We do this
  in a variety of ways at a variety of institutions. We do not feel that politics, PR, or percep-
  tions of the field should influence how we teach, nor what we legislate.

Position Statement
AICAD's position on legislation relating to the certification of designers is:

1.) Accreditation:
       We fully support laws that include NASAD, CIDA, NAAB, and any other USDE or
       CHEA accrediting agency. We oppose any legislation which limits access to only
       those who have graduated from a CIDA accredited program, as an unreasonable
       and unnecessary restriction whose need and validity is unproven.
       Discussion - NASAD's standards are nearly identical to CIDA's standards. There is no
       evidence - not even any research on the subject - showing that CIDA graduates are any
       better designers than others, or that NASAD graduates are any worse. Far too many pro-
       grams are not accredited by CIDA to allow a monopoly to be granted, absent proof of de-
       ficiencies in NASAD. To do so eliminates too many productive programs and qualified
       students, or else forces schools to obtain accreditation they do not want or need. There is
       no proof that CIDA accreditation is a criterion so critical to success that it warrants the
       exclusion of all other accreditation agencies. And if the exams are truly effective at certi-
       fying future designers' competence, then the criteria needed to sit the exams should not be
       unreasonably restrictive. It's quite possible for people can pass these exams without a
       CIDA education. Many do so right now. While CIDA is effective at what it does, it isn't
       the only effective U.S. accreditation agency.

2.) Education:
      We fully support laws that allow for a variety of education programs and back-
      grounds, combined with appropriate work experience: 4 or 5 year programs plus 2
      years of work; 3 year programs plus 3 years work; 2 year programs plus 4 years
      work; and less than two years of education combined with 8 years of work expe-
      rience. We oppose CIDA's policy of accrediting only 4-year programs, and
      NCIDQ's new policy (January, 2009) to permit only three-year graduates to take the
      exam, as unnecessary and inappropriate curtailing of access. And we oppose legisla-
      tion which incorporates or permits these limitations.
       Discussion - Many programs of less than 4 year's length can provide a concentrated edu-
       cation in interior design sufficient to pass a qualifying exam and become an effective de-
       signer. Many students get general art or design degrees and then complete AAS degrees
       later. Many others have extensive work experience that can prepare them adequately for
       the exams and further practice. Again, if the exams are truly effective at certifying future
       designers, then access to the exams should not be so restricted. Many people currently
       pass these exams with 2 year degrees. A one-size-fits-all education requirement runs
       counter to the varied ways people develop creative skills and disqualified a large number
       of potential future designers. And some of he nation's best designers currently practicing
       have little or no direct interior design education. Professionalism and experience are de-
       veloped via many different pathways. We should allow that to continue.

3.) Work Experience:
      We support laws that allow 6 years of education and work experience combined,
      that allow access for those (few) people with no formal interior design education but
      with 8 years work experience, and that do not restrict whom the work experience
      can be supervised by. We oppose the IDEP program policy and the new NCIDQ ex-
      am policy (January, 2008), which limit work supervision to only those who have
      passed the NCIDQ exam or are state certified. And we oppose legislation which in-
      corporates or permits these limitations. This is a particularly serious limitation for
      designers and students in the 28 states that currently have no certification process.
       Discussion - Currently, typical interior design laws require a 6 year work and education
       combination, and a few require no formal education. This should be the standard, unless
       we are to unreasonably limit access to the field for some qualified people. There are so
       many different ways for people to become competent enough to sit for the exams that li-
       mitations are inappropriate. The IDEP and the new NCIDQ work policies (no "work-
       only" access and narrowed supervision of work) are unreasonable, and in some states
       coercive, restrictions for which there is little or no supporting proof of "public good."

4.) Testing:
       We support laws that allow a choice of qualifying exams. We oppose laws that grant
       NCIDQ a monopoly on testing, unless NCIDQ maintains an open access policy on
       education and work experience.
       Discussion - As with accreditation, education and work experience, the restrictions in the
       testing arena are similarly unnecessary and unfairly restrictive. NCIDQ policies bar
       many students from taking its test, when there is no objective research proving they are

       incompetent designers, fail the tests in large numbers, or pose a threat to the public.

5.) Title vs. Practice Laws:
       We support open, voluntary title laws ("certified interior designer" or similar). We
       oppose all practice acts and all laws using the title "interior designer" only.
       Discussion - Practice acts are an unreasonable limitation of the field. They require all de-
       signers to obtain a full state license, even if they will never undertake jobs that require
       permits or that present any obvious risk to the public. In many jurisdictions and for many
       jobs, plumbers, electricians and contractors can pull the required permits. Only five ju-
       risdictions have seen the need for practice acts. Furthermore, analysis by the legislative
       analysts in at least two states recently recommended sunsetting their Interior design title
       laws due to lack of need or public risk. These states determined that contract laws, con-
       sumer protection laws, building codes, and the permitting and inspection processes pro-
       vided ample protection of the public's health and safety. In addition, to write a title law
       that applies to "interior designers" only is tantamount to writing a straight practice act. It
       is extremely difficult to practice interior design if you can't call yourself an interior de-
       signer. Thus purportedly voluntary title acts become virtually mandatory.

6.) "Indirect" Legislation:
       We support open, public dialogue about interior design legislation, and flexibility
       with regard to work and education. We oppose the de facto legislation that occurs
       when groups or associations change their policies without the knowledge or consent
       of the state legislators.
       Twenty-four states, plus DC and PR, have enacted interior design laws. These laws spe-
       cify the education and work experience required before one may apply for state certifica-
       tion or licensure. Some of these states have quite open and flexible laws on the books,
       with very few limitations on length of education or work. However, when a law requires
       passage of the NCIDQ exam (as virtually all of them do) or limits access primarily to
       CIDA graduates (as some do), and NCIDQ or CIDA subsequently tighten or narrow their
       policies, the effect is to amend the state law without formal action by the legislature.
       These states are thus prevented from having a full, frank, and public review of the effects
       of the NCIDQ or CIDA policy changes.

Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design
3957 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

William O. Barrett, Executive Director

Policy adopted October, 2004

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