Technology vendors often assert that their products are accessible. However, manufacturers, vendors, and service providers sometimes make inaccurate or incomplete claims about the accessibility of their products or services.
In order for something to be considered “accessible,” a person with a disability must be able to:
- acquire the same information as any other user,
- engage in the same interactions, and
- enjoy the same services with substantially equivalent ease of use as a person without a disability.
Inaccessible products could lead to usage delays, unmet expectations, and possible legal issues. Fully-accessible information technology products provide usability for all.
Dos and Don'ts
If you ask the right questions, such as those below, you can make better decisions and ensure that technology products purchased for the University meet accessibility standards.
Is the product or service accessible?
Does it meet the functional accessibility requirements (see Accessibility Purchasing Playbook appendix)? If so, what kinds of assurances or documentation can the vendor provide to certify its accessibility?
Has the product been evaluated for accessibility? Was the evaluation internal or by a third party or done using an evaluation tool (or some combination thereof)?
Can the vendor demonstrate the accessibility of the product, for example, show what the product offers to a user with accessibility needs?
If not, can it be modified?
Is the vendor willing to make the necessary modifications? If so, what assurances will the vendor give? Will they put this in the contract language with a timeline to complete the modifications?
Is the vendor willing to allow the University or a third-party access to make modifications?
If not, is there an equally-effective alternative?
Is there a competing product or service that is accessible?
Are there other technologies that provide equivalent capabilities, including the same opportunity to:
- acquire the same information?
- engage in same interactions?
- enjoy same services?
If not, is not purchasing the product or service an option?
It is important to note if you are purchasing a product that does not meet WCAG 2 AA standards, there are many risks to the University that come with this decision. You may not discriminate against future job applicants based on their ability or inability to use an inaccessible product.
University Purchasing Services is available to help during the purchasing process but is not always involved in a purchase.