Accessibility is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a crucial aspect of digital services. Yet, many accessibility companies might not have thought of ways to incorporate accessibility into processes that impact the digital public and internal resources they design or acquire, and offer. Making sure that the people who are in charge know their accessibility obligations, and have the tools they require to fulfill those obligations is crucial to the accessibility plan of an organization.
This post discusses accessibility issues in purchasing or procurement procedures that deal with digital services and products.
Digital products may comprise web applications, websites mobile applications, other digital documents, software as well as other types of digital media. Digital services include software-as-a-service engagements and consultancy services with those who build digital products or create digital content for your organization. Customers of digital services and products may be customers, employees or any other people in the public including those with disabilities.
What are the consequences of not considering accessibility while procurement?
The choice of a digital item or service provided by an outside source means you’ve opted to invest in something that can assist in meeting your business’s goals and goals, which you cannot or create yourself.
If your company’s goals include accessibility, you should choose an item or service that can help you achieve those goals. In the simplest sense, you don’t want an item or service that will make it more difficult for you to reach the accessibility requirements.
If you outsource your needs to a service provider or opt for an unpaid service or product it is important to ensure that the service or product fulfills your accessibility requirements (more on this in the future). One option for confirming that the product or service is accessible is to assume the risk that your tool or service doesn’t meet adequate accessibility. Your business will then have to manage the negative consequences of accessibility issues.
How can procurement processes help accessibility?
If you consider accessibility considerations in your purchasing process increases the chances of choosing the most easily accessible item or product. In the event that this is impossible, effective procedures can assist you in reducing the risk of accessibility problems.
Here are a few areas in which you need to consider the accessibility of procurement processes.
Determining accessibility in service or product requirements
Be sure to include accessibility requirements whenever you buy goods or services. This informs potential vendors that you are looking for accessibility and also allows for them to show how their product or service meets your requirements.
Your accessibility requirements must include two main areas:
- Accessibility of digital products. You should express your expectation that the product will be able to conform to accepted accessibility standards, like WCAG.
- What procedures and practices integrate accessibility? You must state that you’d like to see evidence of the vendor’s commitment and ability to offer and maintain the accessibility of their products in the long run. This is particularly important when you’re purchasing an item that is modified and updated during the duration of the contract, or if you’re searching for a company to offer the design and development of services.
Include accessibility guidelines in all formal procurement documents like solicitations for proposals or invites to bid. Encourage companies that purchase digital services and products to incorporate accessibility into the requirements documents.
It could also be worthwhile providing evidence of specific types you’d like to see from suppliers, for example, the Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR, commonly referred to as VPAT (or the Voluntary Accessibility Template) or similar reports.
Controlling Accessibility risk
There are many scenarios where you may not be able to purchase an item that meets the accessibility requirements of your needs. In such cases, you’ll need to take care to mitigate the accessibility risks that come with the product in the best way you can.
The definition of accessibility requirements in every contract that is signed with vendors in order to includes vendor commitments to rectify existing issues prior to the date of contracting, and also obligations to keep accessibility up to the duration that the agreement.
Establishing a positive relationship with the vendor, so that you can collaborate to increase the accessibility of the product.
Collaboration with those with disabilities who use the product, to examine accessibility issues and identify ways to minimize the negative impact of accessibility issues.
Establishing relations with other customers in order to discuss solutions for improving accessibility and to provide a uniform prioritized request to vendors.
Digital procurement of goods and services could meet the needs of your organization, and could even assist you in your accessibility plan. However, procurement can also bring accessibility risks. You can minimize these risks by making sure you:
Do our procurement procedures incorporate accessibility considerations?
Learn how to make educated choices regarding the accessibility of a service and its supplier,
Put in place processes to mitigate the accessibility risks that you run in the event that you accept an item or service that’s not fully accessible.