FAQs - Accessibility Procurement Requests
Where can I find information about the Syracuse University ICT Accessibility Policy?
You can find the Syracuse University ICT Accessibility Policy at the University Policies page.
Who is on the Accessibility Assessment Committee (AAC)?
The Accessibility Assessment Committee (AAC) is comprised of representatives from Information Technology Services (ITS), The Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services (EOIRS), and the Office of Disability Services (ODS), as well as two at-large members representing the interests of both academic and administrative computing. Current membership includes:
Information Technology Services (ITS)
- Jenny Gluck, Associate CIO for Academic Services
- Kara Patten, Training Consultant
- Joseph Giberman, IT Contracts Manager
- Pamela Thomas, IT Accessibility Analyst
Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services
- William Myhill, Interim ADA/503/504 Coordinator
- Melanie Domanico, Equal Opportunity and Accommodations Specialist
Office of Disability Services
- Paula Possenti-Perez, Director
- Bethany Heaton-Crawford, Associate Director
- Lana Pettit, Director of Computing, Campus Facilities Administration & Services
- James Spoelstra, Director of Information Technology, Engineering
- Brian Tibbens, Director of Information Technology, Public Communications
Can I see a history of past requests, along with status?
A history of past requests along with status can be viewed at the AAC Past Requests page on Answers. Login is required.
What is the expected turnaround time for a procurement request to be reviewed by the Accessibility Assessment Committee (AAC)?
Please allow a minimum of a two-week turnaround to receive a response for approved requests, and longer if a request is denied and the appeal process is initiated.
This expected turnaround is for requests submitted with all required information. Incomplete requests will not be reviewed by the AAC.
Does the accessibility procurement request process take the place of the purchasing processes?
The accessibility procurement request process does not take the place of purchasing processes. Ideally, the accessibility of a product has been considered and incorporated in any RFQ and RFP processes. Please contact Syracuse University Purchasing for details on RFQ and RFPs.
What information must be provided to the AAC for review of an accessibility procurement request?
Forms and required documentation for the different request types submitted to and/or reviewed by the Accessibility Assessment Committee (AAC) can be found on the Procurement of ICT Products and Services page.
For a ‘Single User’ Exclusion Request, does ‘single user’ mean only one user? Or can it be a small group of people?
In order to be granted an exclusion request, the software must be used by only one user. A common example would be a professor requesting procurement of a specialized software for individual research work. A small group (ex: 2-3 people) would not qualify for an exclusion.
There are currently no users with disabilities that are required to use this product. Is a full review still required by the AAC?
Yes, a full accessibility procurement review is still required. As per the ICT Accessibility policy, “Syracuse University values diversity, and accessible Information and Communication Technology is an important component of an inclusive University”. “It is the University’s aim to make content and technology accessible to current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors, and the general public.”
What can I do to avoid unnecessary delays in the procurement request process?
The most common cause of a delay is submission of incomplete or partially filled out forms. For all required forms, all fields must be filled in, in entirety. Please double check that all fields have been filled in prior to submission.
Is there a best day to submit a request for quick turnaround?
Submitting requests by end of day Thursday may allow for a request to be reviewed at the weekly AAC meeting on Tuesday, pending number of requests in queue.
What kind of decision or response can I expect after submitting a procurement request?
Compliant Hardware & Software, and Exclusion Notifications:
- Confirmation will be sent directly from Orange Tracker. No further action is required. Requests will occasionally be audited by the AAC on a sample basis.
Non-Compliant Software Procurement Requests:
Non-compliant requests are reviewed by the AAC and will result in one of the following responses:
- Conditional Approval:
- The vendor agrees to remediate all accessibility issues identified in the manual assessment within a specified number of months in the vendor roadmap
- Approval term and next review date will be determined, in order to give the requester sufficient time to either demonstrate that the product has been remediated, seek an alternative product, or request an exception from the Accessibility Compliance Committee (ACC).
- Other factors may apply
- Manual evaluation of the product results in ‘Partially Met’ or ‘Not Met’
- Vendor has not provided a documented roadmap with a reasonable timeframe for compliance
- Product is high impact, high visibility, or otherwise poses a risk to the University
- Other factors may apply
What questions should I ask the vendor about the accessibility of their product?
What is a VPAT and what are the characteristics of a reliable VPAT?
The Information Technology Industry Council VPAT® tool simplifies the accessibility assessment of products and services. VPAT® 1.0 relates to the (1998) Section 508 standards. VPAT® 2.1 uses the United States Access Board Section 508 Refresh, WCAG 2.0 Guidelines, and Standard - EN 301 549.
The most accurate and reliable VPATs are created by companies that specialize in evaluating the accessibility of products. A skilled accessibility review company will include an automated evaluation, a manual evaluation and an evaluation by a person(s) with a disability. Most vendors do not employ a skilled accessibility analyst.
Templates (linked below) are available to provide to a vendor that may not be familiar with the VPAT® tool.
Characteristics of a reliable VPAT®
- The salesperson knows what a VPAT® is
- VPAT® was completed by a 3rd party rather than the product vendor
- Every criterion is not “Supported”
- It is dated within the last year or two
- There are Remarks and Explanations
- Real examples are provided
- Testing procedures are referenced
- The vendor has a reputation/history of dedicating resources to accessibility, e.g., Microsoft, Google, Blackboard
Examples of completed VPATs
Vendors who offer accessibility audits and VPAT® completion
Select a VPAT® evaluator that will test against the prevailing standards and guidelines. Verify that the VPAT® vendor has used automation tools and manual assistive technology validation. Ideally, the VPAT® vendor completes their testing by using product use case testing by people with disabilities. For a comprehensive list of agencies, consult Digital A11y's Digital Accessibility Agencies Roundup.
Can a vendor dial into an AAC meeting to discuss strategy or next steps?
The AAC works with University employees alone. University employees who are requesting an accessibility procurement review must act as the liaison between the AAC and the vendor in response to requests for information.
If a procurement request is denied by the AAC, can the request be appealed to a higher level (ACC)?
In the event that a full review has been completed by the AAC and has resulted in a procurement denial, the requestor has the option of submitting an Exception Appeal Request. to the Accessibility Compliance Committee (ACC). Exception requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Submitting an exception request does not guarantee approval, and the request must have first followed the ICT Accessibility Procurement process.
What is the turnaround time for an appeal request submitted to the Accessibility Compliance Committee (ACC)?
Each exception appeal request is managed on a case-by-case basis, and as such the ACC does not hold regularly scheduled meetings. Turnaround times vary, based on the specific circumstances of each case.
For a status update regarding an appeal request, please respond to the Orange Tracker ticket email for your appeal request. This will ensure that all history is documented appropriately for the request, including status update questions and responses.
Under what circumstances might an appeal be considered?
If a procurement request has been denied because the product does not meet ICT Accessibility Policy requirements, there are certain circumstances under which the decision can be appealed to the Accessibility Compliance Committee (ACC). These circumstances include:
- Not technically possible; Compliance is not technically possible or an accessible alternative does not exist commercially which meets the functional requirements.
- Requires fundamental alteration; When making the product accessible would fundamentally alter the nature of the product or its components.
- Results in an undue burden. "Undue financial and administrative burdens," or "undue burdens" are created when a proposed course of action causes significant difficulty or expense. If compliance would result in a substantial burden, the University will make reasonable efforts to provide access through other means. The financial burden is determined within the context of the entire University budget.
Manual Accessibility Review Information
Supported web browser accessibility assessment tools include:
Supported screen readers include:
- JAWS with IE
- VoiceOver with Safari
- NVDA with FireFox
Please check back for updates to the list of approved accessibility assessment tools.
Where can I find the help guides for Screen Reader essential shortcuts?
Screen Reader shortcuts can be found in the Screen Reader Essential Shortcuts document.
What are the common keystrokes used for accessibility testing?
Common keystrokes can be found in the Keyboard Navigation for Web Accessibility Testing (.docx) guide.
What are the definitions of ‘Met’, ‘Partially Met’, and ‘Not Met’ in a manual accessibility review?
Accessibility Criteria Definitions:
- Met: All critical functions compliant.
- Partially Met: Some functions not compliant; alternative means of access are provided within the interface.
- Not Met: Some functions not compliant; no alternative means of access available within the interface.
You may describe specific compliance details under the explanation / comments section in the request form. All details are taken into consideration by the AAC during review of the request.
How / Where to Obtain Support?
I need help in completing the required forms. How to obtain required assistance?
ITS uses a train the trainer approach. For accessibility assessment training, or assistance in completing any associated procurement request forms, please contact your IT Departmental Support Contact person or IT School and College Support Contact person.
If you do not have an IT support contact, you may email accessibleIT@syr.edu for assistance.