7 Things You Should Know About Technology Procurement for Accessibility
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Lori Kressin Kyle Shachmut Christian Vinten-Johansen Sue Cullen
ELI Educause : Technology Procurement for Accessibility PDF document
Despite general agreement among institutional leaders that they are obligated to provide accessible technology, efforts at many colleges and universities to fulfil that promise are often ad hoc, incomplete, or not fully implemented. Including accessibility requirements or guidance in institutional policies and practices for how technology is procured is one way for colleges and universities to demonstrate a commitment to ensuring equal access to information, programs, and activities and to comply with applicable legal requirements.
Due to decentralized purchasing and contracting practices, as well as the growing ecosystem of easy-to-deploy learning apps, applications and services are often deployed with little or no oversight from an accessibility perspective.
George Mason University, the university counsel, purchasing office, libraries, and IT services are collaborating to establish purchasing guidelines that ensure all IT purchases are reviewed for accessibility and conform to explicit standards and guidelines. The California State University system has developed system-wide vendor accessibility requirements, as well as an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP) to address accessibility barriers while the product development team addresses remediation of those barriers (which are outlined in a product Accessibility Roadmap). Penn State University updated its policy for accessibility of electronic and information technology to reflect evolving standards and new best practices. The University of Washington uses a step-by-step checklist, including suggested language for contracts, to help users across campus ensure accessibility compliance in technology acquisitions. The University of Wisconsin–Madison tells stakeholders that they “must consider accessibility early and throughout the process as one of the criteria for [technology] acquisition.” As part of a process of “growing a culture of access,” Wichita State University has developed an in-depth Foundations of Accessibility course for staff and a technology audit rubric, among other tools
Consistent adherence to accessibility policies for technology purchases can be challenging because some technologies might need to be deployed even though they are not fully accessible.
Campus policies allowing decentralized technology purchases can create gray areas where buyers may be uncertain about—or may not even be aware of—their responsibilities to ensure that such purchases comply with institutional accessibility policies.
Changes in pedagogic practice to ensure broader adoption of accessible technology are tangible demonstrations of that enhanced awareness. Broader adoption of the principles of Universal Design for Learning may stimulate more institutions to be intentional about policies that ensure accessible technology purchases.