ILDA volunteer Members are working on a number of accreditation and certification programs. One of these programs, the ILDA Certified Professional Lasershow Company, was established in 2010 and is now active.
The details of the other proposed programs, and the pace of work, are up to Members working in these areas. Any interested ILDA Member is welcome to participate in this effort. All ILDA Members will have opportunities to review and comment on the programs.
The programs will be reviewed by the Board and Executive Director, to ensure that they address standards for credentialing programs. These include ANSI/IEC/ISO 17024 and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
Resources include the books "Certification and Accreditation Law Handbook, 2nd Ed." and "The Business of Certification”. Both books are owned by ILDA.
Key concepts which must be addressed are discussed in the “Required elements” section below.
All programs must be open to any qualified entity. It must not a requirement to be an ILDA Member in order to achieve certification or accreditation.
Non-members can be charged higher fees for certification or accreditation services. But the fee increase must be reasonable and not punitive.
These programs are being developed at the pace and speed of the volunteer effort. Ideally, there will be a certification or accreditation program for all ILDA Member activities, such as a Member who only manufactures parts used in laser show projectors.
However, some activities, such as doing laser shows or building complete projectors, are more common and/or are deemed more important for public safety. So the focus will initially be on setting up programs in these areas.
The “ILDA Professional” program is for companies, organizations and individuals doing laser shows and displays. It identifies those who have experience and competency in doing shows. The goal is to separate "professionals" from those who are less experienced or knowledgeable.
Requirements include doing shows, being active in the industry, and having safety knowledge. There is a form to fill out with a "point system". Points must be achieved in specified areas, such as number of shows, safety knowledge, keeping up-to-date with technology, etc.
These programs would certify that laser equipment meets ILDA standards for signal interconnections. The goal is that any ILDA Certified Projector can be run by any ILDA Certified Controller. There may also be requirements in the areas of safety and of minimum image quality.
It is expected that manufacturers will self-certify; that is, there will not be a third-party that tests the equipment. If a piece of equipment is found to not meet the standard, then the ILDA Certification will be revoked.
A glimpse of how this program might work can be seen at the website www.ildacertified.com. The program is NOT active, but the website gives an idea of some concepts that could be used.
This program would certify that an individual has the knowledge to safely operate a laser show. It would be somewhat similar to the New York State Code Rule 50 test, although it would focus only on laser shows rather than lasers in general. Competency would be demonstrated by a test.
ILDA Members have expressed an interest in other programs, such as for parts suppliers (quality control, etc.) and for laser show specialists (show programmers, artists, etc.). These programs would be developed by interested volunteers and would be overseen by the Board and Executive Director.
All accreditation and certification programs developed by ILDA should address the elements listed below. These elements apply to all ILDA programs, including:
• Accreditation for companies, organizations and individuals doing laser shows
• Certification for products that they meet minimum standards
• Certification for individuals that they have laser show knowledge and experience
In the following discussion, we will use "certification" to stand for all three types of ILDA programs, including accreditation. The term "entity" means a company, organization, individual or product that applies for certification.
Does the program measure what it is supposed to measure?
The program should accurately reflect the knowledge or features needed by the entity. For accredited laser show producers, this means an entity demonstrates that they have done shows, that they have references, that they have studied laser safety, etc. For certified products, this would mean that the pinouts, voltages, and other features of the product are necessary to comply with ILDA and industry standards.
Is the information given by the entity accurate? If a test is given, is this test consistent and precise in measuring the needed elements?
If a company states they have done X number of shows, they need to be prepared to prove this. Similarly, if a manufacturer states their product has Y voltage on pin 5, they also must prove this if required.
Certification programs must not have undue influence from ILDA, or other groups or individuals. Although the programs are set up and run by ILDA, decisions must be made in the best interest of the programs. For example, unqualified entities cannot exert pressure on the program, in order to become certified. This is vital so that the public interest is served.
Certification decisions must be free from external influences. They must be focused on matters related to certification only.
There must be Bylaws changes and official policies giving the authority to develop certification programs, and stating who makes the final decisions on the programs.
The certification requirements must be reasonable for identifying qualified entities (products, individuals, companies, organizations). The standards cannot be so easy that most anyone can pass; they cannot be so difficult that only a few entities pass.
Programs must provide genuine opportunities for unhappy or disgruntled applicants to appeal decisions against them. Due process does not have to be like courtrooms (e.g., with lawyers, rules of evidence, etc.). It must have "common law fairness"
This means Substantive fairness: Standards and criteria must be applied reasonably, with an even hand. It also means Procedural fairness: Notice of actions or requirements, an opportunity to be heard (in writing or orally), and a fair and impartial decision-making process.
The first stage of appeal can be done through the ILDA Ethics Committee. To avoid the appearance that ILDA is controlling the process, any subsequent appeals must be done through a special committee or system which reports to the certification program. This way, the program and not ILDA has the final word on appeals.
A detailed list of requirements and appeal procedures, similar to that of the Code of Ethics complaint procedure, should be in place before the certification process becomes active.
• Stages of due process: Candidate denied eligibility to try for certification - limited review. Appeal of exam or certification results (scores). Appeal of any decision to deny certification (reasons other than scores). Disciplinary process to suspend or revoke certification, or deny re-certification.
• Reasons for disciplinary process must be related to the certification: Felony or crime of moral turpitude in the profession; Gross negligence or professional misconduct; Fraud or misrepresentation in the certification application, test taking or similar submissions.
• Disciplinary process: Follow procedures. The ILDA Ethics Committee will review the initial receipt of complaints, reject any unreliable, unsupported or frivolous complaints. If actionable, give notice to certificant and the process begins. This process must be fair, but does not need trial-type processing with witnesses, formal rules of evidence, legal counsel, etc. The Ethics Committee will investigate and will recommend disciplinary action. If the certificant appeals this action, a separate committee reviews and conducts any needed new investigations; this committee's responsibility is to the certification program and not necessarily to ILDA.
• If an entity's certification is revoked, ILDA may publish: entity name, date of revocation, brief reason for revocation.
Any qualified entity can apply for certification. The entity does not have to be an ILDA Member, or be a product of an ILDA Member. This is important for anti-trust and anti-competition considerations.
It is allowed to charge non-Members more than Members, for the program. The difference in charges should be reasonable given that ILDA has put extensive resources into developing the program(s). The difference cannot be punitive.
Consideration should be given to copyrighting and/or trademarking the name of the certification program as well as any logos used. Tests and websites may also be copyrighted.
All volunteers working on the certification program must sign a written document stating that they transfer any copyright they might have in their work, to ILDA.
Note about certification marks: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognizes "certification marks" which designate a person or product that is recognized as meeting specified standards. This mark can only be used by the certificant (product, individual, company), not by the certifying board (e.g., ILDA). The board (ILDA) can license use of its trademarks, service marks and/or acronym. Because the USPTO does not consider certification marks unique, it is generally not recommended to register certification marks.
Insurance is available for certification programs. ILDA should investigate the cost and coverage.
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