Accessibility Procurement Request Instructions
The University commits that Information and Communication Technology products and services acquired, adopted, developed or updated after the effective date of the Information and Communication Technology policy shall be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This page documents the required information for different types of requests.
- Please allow a minimum of a two-week turnaround to receive a response from the AAC for requests submitted with all required information. Incomplete requests will not be reviewed by the AAC.
Forms listed under the 'Required Information' column are updated regularly, so please download a new document each time.
- See our FAQ page for frequently asked questions.
- See the AAC Past Requests page, for history of software and hardware requests with statuses. Login is required.
- See the ICT Accessibility Procurement Process page for a diagram of the process.
Covers all content and technology, including websites, web-based and mobile applications, email, webconferencing, video conferencing, video streaming, instructional materials, electronic documents, blended and online courses, and all academic and administrative software applications.
Hardware covered by the policy and subject to AAC review includes University shared use hardware (ex: lab equipment) for areas covered by Section 508 Standards: Single-use, specialized hardware is excluded from the policy.
“Where components of ICT are hardware and transmit information or have a user interface, such components shall conform” to the Section 508 hardware requirements. Hardware is defined in the Section 508 Standards as “a tangible device, equipment, or physical component of ICT, such as telephones, computers, multifunction copy machines, and keyboards”.
Certain Information and Communication Technology may be excluded from the mandates of this policy, including:
Important: A request for an exclusion does not guarantee that it will be granted; if the exclusion request is denied, resubmitting the request form with Part C completed will be required to continue with the procurement request.
Additional / Supporting Information (Historical - Updates in Progress)
Table of Contents
On Friday, December 1, 2017, the University adopted a policy governing the accessibility of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The policy is effective on January 1, 2018. One aspect in the policy describes the procurement of information technology products and services.
The University will use the criteria of accessibility as part of its decision-making process when purchasing or renewing ICT. Purchasing priority is to be given to technologies that meet accessibility Standards and Guidelines. We ask vendors who wish to do business with the University to provide written information about their product’s conformance to applicable accessibility Standards and Guidelines. Vendor-supplied statements about accessibility will be verified through hands-on evaluation of the product prior to purchase.
To ensure accessibility compliance, University shoppers will need to perform a three-step assessment process. Alternatively, buyers or vendors can contract with a specialized third party to check the accessibility of a product or service. An automated testing tool, a manual keyboard test, and finally a test by a person with disabilities are used to determine the accessibility of a product or service. Information Technology Services can provide guidance on how to check a product or service.
The ICT Accessibility Assessment Committee (AAC) will review the product or service for compliance using the results from the test and the procurement application form. The AAC can approve the purchase, recommend acceptance based on contingencies, or reject the purchase. A rejected product or service can be submitted to the larger ICT Accessibility Compliance Committee for consideration when an exception to the policy is being requested.
Accessibility Procurement Request Instructions
The Accessibility Procurement Request Instructions page documents the required information for different types of requests.
Please allow a minimum of a two-week turnaround to receive a response from the AAC for requests submitted with all required information. Incomplete requests will not be reviewed by the AAC.
Working with Vendors
Questions for vendors
Use the Questions for vendors below when starting conversations with the vendor about accessibility.
- Do they understand and comply with accessibility guidelines (Section 508 or WCAG 2.0 A and AA)?
- Is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® available? If so, ask for a copy.
- What is their process for testing accessibility?
- Do they test with actual users with different disabilities?
- Have they tested with any assistive technologies? Which ones?
- Do they have staff that specializes in accessibility?
- If the product is not accessible, do they have a roadmap for improvement? If so, ask for a copy.
- Who to contact if the product is found to have accessibility problems?
Note: See a more extensive list of questions for vendors.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
RFPs and contracts with ICT vendors will reflect the University's commitment to accessibility. All RFPs will include language that assures products purchased will be compliant with this policy. For example:
Accessibility. [Vendor] represents and warrants that its web-based deliverables comply with World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.0 AA, and agrees to provide written documentation verifying accessibility, to promptly respond to and resolve accessibility complaints received from Customer, and to indemnify and hold Customer harmless in the event of claims arising from inaccessibility.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates® (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 PWDs.
- Interactive Accessibility
- The Paciello Group
- Accessibility Partners
- Bender Consulting Services, Inc
Considering a Product or Service that is not accessible
If an accessible product is not available or does not align with other dominant criteria for product selection, an Exception to the Policy may be requested. The ICT Accessibility Policy exception process will guide purchasers through the process of requesting an Exception. If an Exception is granted, two additional steps must be taken.
- Syracuse University will work with the vendor to establish a time frame for improving accessibility
- An Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan will be documented and in place to provide equivalent access for individuals with disabilities until the product can be made accessible
Gauge the potential impact on the University of a particular product's accessibility
- Will the product be used by a large number of people?
- Will access to a University program or service be denied?
- Are there workarounds to address the accessibility barriers?
- Will a critical program or service be impacted?
- Will the use create significant legal exposure?
- Will the cost of providing accommodations (alternate access) be high?
Assistance with information and communication technology purchases are available from your department support staff and the ITS Accessibility Center. You can find contact information for your department support staff at http://its.syr.edu/supportsvc. You can contact the ITS Accessibility Center by emailing email@example.com or accessibleIT@syr.edu.
- Evaluating ICT Accessibility – Suggested Questions for Vendors
- Frequently Asked Questions - Accessibility Procurement Requests
- ICT Accessibility in the Procurement Process
- Process Diagram - Procurement of ICT Products and Services
- Training: Accessibility Assessment in the Procurement Process