Procurement Considerations - Electronic and Information Technology
Mid Michigan College (Mid) is committed to provide equal opportunity and accessibility to its educational and administrative services, programs and activities. This includes ensuring that all electronic technology, software, or hardware procured by the College and used by its community conforms to the technical standards adopted by the College through its Web & Electronic Information Policy.This policy exists to promote equal access to the College’s electronic information resources, technologies and services for students, employees, guests and visitors, including those who have disabilities. The policy encompasses all web materials and content for Mid, including but not limited to administration and services, course instruction, online learning, departmental programs and activities, web resources, and all electronic information technology purchased, developed, maintained or utilized by the College.
A person with a disability must be afforded the opportunity to; acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, enjoy the same services, with substantially equivalent ease of use as a person without a disability. Accessibility ensures equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.
Manufacturers, vendors, and service providers often make inaccurate or incomplete claims about the accessibility of their products or services. Due diligence will help avoid implementing an inaccessible product which could lead to usage delays, unmet expectations and possible legal issues; but it also promotes accessibility for individuals with disabilities and usability for all.
Questions to Ask
Whether you're developing a RFP or making a smaller purchase, the following six questions related to accessibility should be asked:
- Specifically, describe the extent to which your product is accessible to people with disabilities, including people who are blind or have impaired vision, are Deaf or hard of hearing, have mobility or dexterity limitations, or those with speech impairments.
- If your product is not accessible, please describe the options for improving the accessibility of your product through modifications, peripherals, or other appropriate add-ons.
- What methods did you use to determine the accessibility of your product or service?
- Third-party user assessment
- In-house user assessment
- Automated assessment
- Assessment by users with disabilities
- Other (Please explain)
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:
- 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?
- What experience do developers on your team have in coding for accessibility?
- What standards are followed for coding of interfaces (if 508, what parts; if WCAG 2.0, which level)?
- Do you do administer testing for users with disabilities? If so, can you explain the process and identify, roughly, the range of disabilities and the access of technologies used?
- Does your company have an agenda for accessibility going forward? If so, can you give us a general outline (goals, milestones)?
- Have you tested and/or developed your mobile apps with accessibility in mind?
- If there are changes that need to be made to web/mobile interfaces/apps, what is our guarantee that these will be implemented to our satisfaction prior to go-live/going forward?
- Would your company indemnify UB against legal action related to accessibility?
Require Specific Information
An initial measure 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 equally imperative to also verify the accessibility of hardware and software through consultation and testing.
Mid’s contracts and grants should contain a provision requiring the contractor or grantee to comply with our Web & Electronic Information Technology Policy.
To ensure that the requirements are satisfied, consider including the language below--or substantially similar language--in all electronic information technology, software and hardware contacts:
"Under this agreement, the Vendor hereby warrants that the products or services to be provided, comply with Mid Michigan College’s accessibility requirements.”
"When notified, the Vendor agrees to promptly respond and resolve any complaint regarding accessibility of its products or services.”
"Vendor further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Mid, and any College entity using the vendor's products or services, from any claim arising out of its failure to comply with the aforesaid requirements.”
"Failure to comply with these requirements shall constitute a breach and be basis for the termination of this agreement."