Starting the Process: Request Accessibility Information

Starting the Process: Request Accessibility Information

When looking to acquire a new digital product or service, it is important to gather accessibility information early in your process from the vendor/developer. This information should include the level of conformance to standards as well as the supplier's overall commitment to accessibility.

Reach out to Learning Tech to help facilitate getting this information from the vendor.

It is the supplier’s responsibility to provide an accessible product or service to us. That being said, it is not reasonable to expect 100% standards conformance for any product or service. It is expected, however, that we know which features are compliant and considered 'accessible' and which are not. In addition, we expect to know how the supplier is addressing the identified areas of noncompliance. Most importantly it is our responsibility to require this information from our suppliers and be clear about our expectations in this regard.

Our goal is to work in partnership with our vendors to have the most accessible tools we can.

To gain this understanding, the following documents should be requested. Documents should returned to the department/business unit obtaining the product/service and shared with Learning Tech:

Document 1: Ask the supplier to provide a completed UVA Corporate Accessibility Questionnaire. This document will help you assess how well the supplier understands their role in providing an accessible product or service to us as well as the importance of an inclusive workplace for their employees. It is NOT a technically oriented questionnaire and you are not expected to be an accessibility expert to understand the responses. It is intended to assist in understanding a company's commitment to accessibility from a management perspective. Download the Word document and share it with your vendor.

This document can also be used to compare suppliers. For example, you may receive information outlining an extensive commitment to accessibility and inclusion from one supplier and another may provide little or no information, and may also push back at the requirement of filling out the form. In such circumstances, you are likely to find the first supplier a much more active accessibility partner and in contrast, expect more accessibility related challenges and work on your part with the second supplier.

Document 2Ask the supplier to provide an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) for the product under consideration. An ACR is a self-disclosing document which provides information to evaluate a product's accessibility standards conformance. It is considered the first step in working with the vendor regarding accessibility of their product. An ACR may be a completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) or other document that addresses WCAG 2.2 (preferred), WCAG 2.1, or Section 508 conformance. This compliance information must:

  • be current and be an evaluation of the same version of the products/services under consideration,
  • be a complete assessment,
  • be completed by a neutral third party (preferred) or qualified subject matter expert within the company. Qualifications and contact information of the individual/group conducting the evaluation must be included on the assessment document.

NOTE: UVA's current standard for conformance is WCAG 2.2 AA. For a limited time, ACRs for Section 508 (with 255 as appropriate), or WCAG 2.1 can be accepted. The key is that the ACR be for the current version of the product under consideration.

Your supplier can download the current VPAT templates from the Information Technology Industry Council's (ITI) website. Per University Policy IRM-008: University Information Technology Accessibility, we seek conformance with WCAG 2.2 Levels A and AA. A completed Section 508 or WCAG 2.1 template can be accepted for a limited time.

VPAT: What Technology Vendors Need to Know (MicroAssist)

Depending upon the product or service being considered, compliance with additional standards such as EPub 3 (e-book file format) and ATAG  (developers of digital authoring tools) may be required.

Document 3: Request a current product roadmap from the supplier highlighting the areas of non-conformance delineated on the ACR. 

Next Steps: Evaluate the information received, ask for a demonstration of accessibility features, and determine if the digital asset is appropriate for inclusion in the University's digital environment.