Requirements for Purchasing Technology
Electronic and Information Technology purchases include university systems required for use by students or employees such as registration, electronic textbooks, adaptive courseware, software or apps used in instruction or evaluation, databases, proctoring tools, clickers, etc.
Our Accessibility of EIT Policy requires us to consider accessibility as part of the technology purchasing process:
- Accessibility should be an explicit criterion in all EIT RFPs.
- When an RFP is not required, accessibility must also be considered before adopting technology tools which students or employees will be required to use, whether purchased or free.
- If an inaccessible product is adopted, individuals with disabilities must be accommodated by offering an equitable alternative.
How Do I Know If It's Accessible?
Request a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template
Prospective vendors should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of and commitment to electronic accessibility during the purchasing process by:
- Submitting a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template describing the accessibility of their products and services. As an alternative to the VPAT, vendors may submit an independent third party accessibility evaluation from a certified accessibility consultant.
- Disclosing any existing accessibility issues that they are aware of in their product, and a roadmap or other such plan for addressing existing issues. (Note that all products have accessibility issues, since accessibility is a continuum.)
- Providing accommodation options for areas in which their product isn’t yet fully accessible.
Having a VPAT does not mean that a product is accessible.
- A good VPAT should acknowledge specific areas of concern and detail plans for improvement.
- A flawless VPAT is not realistic, and raises questions about the vendor’s understanding of accessibility.
- If a vendor does not have a VPAT readily available, it could be a sign that accessibility is not an active concern of theirs.
Ask Additional Questions to Determine Commitment to Accessibility
- Is your product developed using accessibility standards? If so, which?
- Which assistive technologies have been tested with your product?
- Has your product been tested with assistive technologies beyond screen readers, such as keyboard, magnification, text-to-speech, voice recognition, etc.?
- If not, do you have plans to include these in future testing?
- Have you had users with disabilities do any testing for you?
- What existing accessibility issues are you aware of in your product?
- Do you have a roadmap for addressing existing issues?
- Do you have a plan for resolving any accessibility issues that come up during the period of a contract?
- Does your company have an accessibility policy?
- Do you have anyone assigned to accessibility issues in your company?
Request an Accessibility Evaluation
It’s important to verify any accessibility claims being made by a vendor. Manual testing of the product is necessary to gain a true understanding of how the product works with assistive technology.
- The preferred product should undergo in-house accessibility testing before a contract is offered or a product is adopted. Use the contact form on this site to request an in-house evaluation.
- A third party evaluation by an accessibility consultant is also acceptable.
Add Accessibility Terms to Contracts
All University contracts for EIT should contain appropriate provisions concerning accessibility. Consult with the ATRC on contract language for these provisions. Vendors can demonstrate a commitment to making accessibility a priority by
- Assigning a specific support contact to work on accessibility issues as they arise.
- Offering workarounds for issues that currently exist.
- Adopting WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines as a standard for development.
- Adopting a development process that includes accessibility testing throughout, with a variety of assistive technologies (not just screen readers).
- Developing a roadmap for accessibility improvements, including a timeline for development.
If the adoption of a product does not include a contract, the adopter should still advocate with the vendor or publisher for making accessibility a priority in their business.
Sample contract language
Colorado State University’s Accessibility of Electronic Information and Technologies Policy specifies that products or services furnished under the contract must be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, consistent with federal and state laws. The contractor will be considered to satisfy the accessibility requirement if it meets the functional performance criteria specified in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level A and AA Success Criteria (2018). The contractor must maintain and retain full documentation of measures taken to ensure compliance with the accessibility criteria, including tests and simulations conducted. The contractor must agree to remediate (repair or replace) non-compliant products or services.