Accessible Technology

October 28, 2020

Fall 2020 Liaisons Meeting: Exploring Recent Changes in IT Accessibility Procurement Procedures

Terrill Thompson

Over the Summer, UW Procurement Services, in collaboration with UW-IT Accessible Technology Services and the Chief Information Services Office, published updates to their policies and procedures, including updates related to accessibility of IT.

These changes are reflected on our Procuring Accessible IT web page, which explains, summarizes, and quotes from Procurement Services’ Procedure 7.2.15.

The following are the most significant changes related to IT accessibility:

  • Bidders and vendors are now required to demonstrate conformance to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, Level AA. This is a version update from WCAG 2.0, the previous required standard.
  • In order to document their level of conformance with WCAG 2.1, bidders and vendors are asked to provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), version 2.3 or higher. Procedure 7.2.15 includes additional guidance and instructions related to VPATs. Previously, a VPAT was identified as one of several means of documenting accessibility, but the decision was made to standardize on VPATs since they’re an industry standard.
  • An Accessibility Rider is now available that can be inserted into agreements and contracts for procurement of IT. It’s one of several riders listed on Procurement Services’ Terms and Conditions website.

Since these changes were implemented, we’ve been asked a number of excellent questions by people at the UW making purchasing decisions. For example:

  • If a vendor fails to provide a VPAT or refuses to agree to the terms of the IT Accessibility Rider, can we still purchase the product?
  • If a vendor insists on revising the IT Accessibility Rider before they’ll agree to its terms and conditions, how much latitude do we have in negotiating with them on accessibility requirements?
  • How do we know whether the accessibility claims provided in a vendor’s VPAT are accurate?

On Thursday, November 5, from 1:00 to 4:00pm, the UW’s IT Accessibility Liaisons network will have their fall meeting, and IT Accessibility in Procurement will be the topic. The agenda will be organized into three one-hour blocks, with each hour focusing on one of the three steps in the procurement process:

  1. Soliciting accessibility information.
  2. Validating accessibility information received.
  3. Including accessibility assurances in contracts.

If you’re interesting in attending the meeting but are not yet a member of the IT Accessibility Liaisons network, see the IT Accessibility Liaisons web page for additional details, including a sign-up form.

  • Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020
  • Time: 1:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Place: Zoom (UW NetID required)
  • Meeting ID: 950 8623 6188

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, and activities. Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by 5:00pm on Monday November 2 to Terrill Thompson, tft@uw.edu.

Fall colors at the UW Arboretum