i+D - January/February 2020 - 39

License to Practice - By Brian J. Barth

Foundation
of Integrity

The Provincial Situation
Lyn Van Tassel of LVT Design in Saint John, New Brunswick, reports a similar
situation north of the border. All Canadian provinces have what's known
as a "title act" for interior design, which is intended to ensure that only
qualified interior designers use the title but does little more than authorize
the formation of interior design associations. "It doesn't give us the right to
regulate," she says. The next step is the adoption of "practice acts," which
gives those associations the power to regulate the use of the term interior
design in commerce. In 2004, Nova Scotia became the first province to pass
a practice act for the profession, followed by New Brunswick in 2017.
Tassel notes all of the provinces have practice acts in the works, but it is
a lengthy process to get them ratified. "It's a very expensive process to
go through," she says, "but now we have a template that will cut some
of those costs for other provinces."
The Interior Designers of New Brunswick recently began sending letters
to businesses and individuals who offer interior design services without the
proper credentials. If those entities do not voluntarily retract their language,
the association follows up with a letter from their lawyer. "Our goal is not to
put anybody out of business," says Tassel. "Our goal is to have people call
themselves what they are and not confuse the public." She notes that it is
extremely important when working with legislators to emphasize this point.
"We lobbied ahead of time to make sure everybody understood what we
were doing and why."

With the exception of California, all states
and provinces with legal recognition of the
profession base that recognition on the CIDQ
credential. The NCIDQ exam is extremely
rigorous when it comes to the technical aspects
of the profession. "Nothing in our exam is
based on aesthetics," says Thom Banks, CEO
of CIDQ. "It's about paths of egress. It's about
building codes. It's about life safety. It's all the
nuts-and-bolts, behind-the-scenes stuff that
impacts the health, safety, and welfare of
the public."
While ASID and CIDQ are closely aligned in
their mandates and collaborate frequently,
it's important to note that each has a distinct
mission. ASID's allegiance is to its members-
practitioners. "Our allegiance is to the public,
not to interior designers, either as a profession
or individuals," says Banks. In fact, CIDQ's
members are not practitioners but the regulatory
boards that oversee the profession (at least in
the states and provinces that have them). Banks
notes this is part of how CIDQ "maintains the
purity of the exam."
Creating the exam questions is a scientific
process, one that is constantly updated to ensure
cutting-edge relevance. Every five years, CIDQ
conducts a survey of certificate holders, says
Banks. What are the skill sets people are using?
What's the knowledge that they need and in
what proportions? That information is analyzed
in the context of interior design fundamentals
and used to revise the exam. "We work with
a professional exam consulting firm, with
psychometricians, and with test developers to
write the questions," says Banks. "Those are
then pre-tested in a live exam to see what sort
of performance statistics are generated. There's
a science behind evaluating a good or bad
question, in terms of the way people respond
to it and how much they differentiate between
the correct answer and incorrect options."

BRIAN J. BARTH
is a freelance writer with a background in
environmental planning and design. He has written
for a range of publications, from Landscape
Architecture Magazine to NewYorker.com.

This, he says, is how CIDQ ensures that
its exam is "reliable, fair, valid, and legally
defensible." Without this rigor, the profession
would not have a leg to stand on.
Thom Banks,
CIDQ

i+D - January/February 2020

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i+D - January/February 2020

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