UB offers many systems and programs that are purchased from vendors. In order to meet our obligations to provide accessible electronic information technology, it is essential to ask vendors to explain how their products are accessible, test for accessibility, and include accessibility assurances in purchase agreements.
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:
For audio/visual system purchases, questions can include:
One way 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 important also to verify the accessibility of hardware and software through consultation and testing.
Vendors should be asked to commit to improving products that pose accessibility issues, and this commitment should be part of any purchase agreement. Sometimes, the best product for a unit's needs might not be fully accessible, but vendors can be asked to provide a written explanation of how accessibility improvements will be built in, with a timeframe for completion. Even if a product appears to be fully accessible, purchase agreements should still include assurances of accessibility as the product is updated.
The World Wide Web (W3C) Consortium has established accessibility standards through its Web Accessibility Initiative. The Initiative's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or WCAG 2.0, is considered to be the industry standard in ensuring accessible electronic content.