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Procurement - Accessibility at UB - University at Buffalo Skip to Content

Procurement

Ensuring that procured technology is accessible is essential to UB's overall accessibility efforts.

UB offers many systems and programs that are purchased from vendors.  In order to meet our obligations to provide accessible electronic information technology, it is essential to ask vendors to explain how their products are accessible, test for accessibility, and include accessibility assurances in purchase agreements.  

Ask About Accessibility

When discussing a potential purchase with a vendor, include questions that pertain to the accessibility standards their products meet, and the process by which they develop and test for accessibility.  For web-based products and software, questions can include:

  1. Do you have clients who require accessibility? If so, would you be willing to provide reference information for clients who can speak to the accessibility of your product? 
  2. What experience do developers on your team have coding for accessibility?
  3. What standards are followed for coding of interfaces (if 508, what parts, if WCAG 2.0, which level)?
  4. Do you do testing with users with disabilities? If so, can you explain the process and identify, roughly, the range of disabilities and access technologies used?
  5. Does your company have a road map for accessibility going forward? If so, can you give us a general outline (goals, milestones)?
  6. Have you tested and/or developed your mobile apps with accessibility in mind?
  7. If we find that there are changes that need to be made to web/mobile interfaces/apps, what guarantee can we have that these will be implemented to our satisfaction prior to go-live/going forward?
  8. Would your company indemnify UB against legal action related to accessibility?

For audio/visual system purchases, questions can include:

  1. Does your system meet physical access requirements for individuals who use wheelchairs?  What are the height, depth and reach measurements for a/v system controls?
  2. Are lecterns and other work surfaces adjustable?
  3. Does your product incorporate an assistive listening system for people with hearing impairments?

Require Specific Information

One way to assess a vendor's accessibility efforts is to require a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT.  A VPAT is a standard form used by federal agencies to ensure that procured information technology meets accessibility requirements.

It is important to understand that receiving a VPAT from a vendor does not guarantee that products will be accessible.  It is important also to verify the accessibility of hardware and software through consultation and testing.

Obtain Written Assurances

Vendors should be asked to commit to improving products that pose accessibility issues, and this commitment should be part of any purchase agreement.  Sometimes, the best product for a unit's needs might not be fully accessible, but vendors can be asked to provide a written explanation of how accessibility improvements will be built in, with a timeframe for completion.  Even if a product appears to be fully accessible, purchase agreements should still include assurances of accessibility as the product is updated.  

For More Information

If you have questions about procuring accessible IT, please contact the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at diversity@buffalo.edu or (716) 645-2266.  

ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS FOR UBbox

UB students, faculty and staff can use UBbox to store, share and access academic and university-related documents from anywhere.  UBbox offers a.box.com, the accessible version of UBbox that is optimized for use with screen readers, keyboards and other assistive technologies.  For more information, visit the UBbox accessibility site.