Determining Specifications

The first step is to determine what, if any, specific requirements apply to your organization. In addition to the general obligation to “incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features when procuring,” the current AODA requirements relevant to colleges and universities are outlined on the Legal Requirements page. Keep in mind that there may be changes to these legal requirements in the future.

In addition to these legal requirements, post-secondary institutions may want to incorporate accessibility specifications into their procurements. Establishing a policy that defines the level of accessibility will make it easier to consistently provide accessible content. See the Procurement page for guidance on policies.

Defining Specifications

Some organizations include a general statement in solicitations vaguely requiring compliance with standards or legislative guidelines. A general reference makes it nearly impossible to determine whether a product meets accessibility requirements. For example, a requirement to “comply with AODA standards” will be meaningless for most procurements because there are no specific AODA standards on procurement.  Instead, specifically reference the accessibility requirements that the product is expected to meet.

Exact specifications depend on what is being procured (e.g., hardware, software, tablet, phone) and its intended functionality/ purpose (e.g., voice communication; video transmission). To ensure full accessibility, some specifications that may seem irrelevant will need to be included. For example, if product documentation includes an embedded video, specifications for video and audio may become relevant.

There are two main tools to help you define specifications in procurement documents: one from the Canadian government and one from the US government. They are based on very similar, but slightly different, standards (ETSI and Section 508). The Canadian tool is more applicable to Ontario institutions as it does not refer to specific American legislation.



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