Because of federal accessibility requirements in the United States and Europe, there are many more accessible products globally available than ever before. (See International Standards page for more information). Market research can inform a procurement strategy by defining which accessible products are available. Many vendors also provide or publish Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACRs) or Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) which outlines their current state of accessibility.
In addition, consider meeting with vendors to discuss the importance of accessibility in this procurement. The Global Initiative for Inclusive (G3ICT) has prepared a Discussion Guide for conversations with vendors, that includes key questions and how leaders in accessible technology may respond. G3ICT recommends:
- Organizing a series of meetings with vendors that have been selected as meeting accessibility criteria in a Call for Tender/RFP
- Clarifying how vendors’ products meet accessibility specifications
- Asking questions about the vendor’s experience with accessibility and how their business processes ensure the accessibility of their products
- Requesting demonstrations of a vendor’s product within the planned setting with the focus on its accessibility and application for different use cases, including individual use and collaboration
Incorporate specifications into solicitation
In addition to specifications, solicitations may need to:
- Specifically reference the organization’s accessibility commitment and standards and their Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act () obligations.
- Include specific specifications in the solicitation (see Determining Specifications page for resources). G3ICT recommends including “precise details of the product or service required, including accessibility requirements, and terms of the procurement exercise”.
- Specify that the tender must include accessibility in the design and development process if the tender is for a new product.
- Instruct vendors on how they are expected to demonstrate the accessibility of their products (e.g., VPAT/ACR). This could include documentation expectations (see evaluation section below), testing, typical user scenarios, and plans to address known gaps. See Section508.gov for a template of such instructions to vendors. Requesting VPATs also has the indirect benefit of communicating the importance of accessibility to vendors.
- Request references from vendors specifically about the accessibility of the product.
- Clarify when these specifications are minimum acceptance criteria and how they will be evaluated alongside other factors.