This Disability:IN accessible procurement toolkit is designed to help companies purchase and sell technology products and services that are accessible to people with disabilities in the workplace, the marketplace, and the supply chain. Baking accessibility into the procurement process is an essential aspect of ensuring that people with disabilities are not excluded from today’s digital environments.
Adoption and implementation of the accessible procurement processes, policies, documents, and culture detailed in this toolkit help create inclusive environments of belonging for employees, delight customers, ensure diversity in the supply chain, and enhance public perception. Wherever you are in your disability inclusion journey, this toolkit can help.
For a quick-start guide into accessible procurement, please visit the Accessible Procurement Building Blocks. The building blocks offer a quick overview of what’s needed to implement a successful accessible procurement program.
This Toolkit and the Accessible Procurement Building Blocks are offerings of Procure Access, a business-to-business initiative facilitated by Disability:IN. Learn more about Procure Access.
Please help us improve this resource. If your company has accessible procurement policies or practices that you think belong in this toolkit, please let us know. If you expected to find something and didn’t, or if anything was not clear, we want to hear from you. Contact Jeff Wissel, Disability:IN’s Chief Accessibility Officer with your feedback or to share resources.
Quick Reference for Common Questions
In this Toolkit find answers to the following common accessible procurement questions:
- I want to expand my organization’s culture to include accessibility
- Is there a business case for accessible procurement?
- I want to involve our Employee Resource Group and people with disabilities in the procurement process
- I need to evaluate bids for accessibility
- I want a product but it is not (yet) accessible
- I need to write purchase contracts that will result in accessible technology
- What parts of my organization need to be involved with accessible procurement?
- I need an accessible procurement policy
- What if there is an accessibility problem after purchase?
- I need to prioritize accessibility plans for current technology
- I need to test digital products and services for accessibility
- I need to provide training that supports accessible procurement
- I need to educate my vendors about accessibility needs
- How do I get beyond the sales pitch and get real accessibility information from vendors?
- I have a VPAT – isn’t that enough?
Who is this Toolkit For?
This toolkit is for technology purchasers who demand honest, detailed, and robust answers to accessibility inquiries. It is for purchasers who insist upon technology that works for all applicants, employees, and customers without unnecessary delay or unwarranted costs. And it is for purchasers who seek to avoid the legal and reputation risk inherent in buying technology that excludes a portion of the workforce, the marketplace, and the supply chain.
This toolkit is also for suppliers — technology sellers who want to meet customer needs for a diverse workforce and an inclusive customer base. It provides guidance for vendors to understand the type of detail expected by purchasers who are committed to diversity and inclusion. And it offers best practices for vendors who seek the advantages of being proactive and avoiding legal and reputational risk when it comes to digital inclusion.
For both suppliers and purchasers, this accessible procurement toolkit recognizes that in the 21st century, accessibility is not merely a feature of software and other technology. It can no longer be something tacked on at an added cost on a slower delivery schedule.
Instead, technology buyers and sellers must prioritize accessibility in line with requirements such as data security, privacy, and performance. Accessibility must be demonstrable and there must be a strategy in place for maintaining and improving accessibility post-purchase.
The content in this resource is designed to give organizations needed tools that will lead to the purchase of digital products with baked-in accessibility that is maintained throughout the product life cycle. It is for organizations that take accessibility seriously and consider accessibility an essential quality of technology purchases.
How to Use this Toolkit
For some organizations, the content in this toolkit may be new. For others, concepts will be familiar, but details may be missing from current organizational processes. And for organizations further along the accessibility journey, this accessible procurement toolkit will reflect best practices already in place.
Wherever your organization is in its path to a fully inclusive and accessible workplace, marketplace, and supply chain, take what is helpful in the order that makes sense for your organization. Consider starting with the Accessible Procurement Building Blocks. A Procure Access resource that offers an overview of accessible procurement elements leading to sections of the toolkit.
Accessible procurement is a journey. Incorporate what you can now and prepare a roadmap to incorporate other elements later. Work with employees with disabilities to tailor the ideas presented here to fit the unique character of your organization.
A Note on Language
Every organization has its own vocabulary to describe processes, systems, management structure, and more. You may find language in this accessible procurement toolkit that does not match the customary terminology used in your workplace.
For example, some companies use the term “supplier,” while others prefer “vendor.” The words “training,” “education,” “development,” and “learning” may be used to refer to the identical process of imparting information to employees or suppliers. We invite you to make this accessible procurement toolkit your own by using the words and phrases your organization is most comfortable with.
Here is an explanation of some terms you will find throughout this resource:
- Accessibility: This Toolkit uses the word “accessibility” to mean the quality of technology and digital content that allows a wide range of users, including employees, applicants, customers, suppliers, and others with disabilities, to perceive, operate, find, navigate, understand, and interact with all its functions and features with relatively the same ease of use as is required from people without disabilities fully and independently. These resources use the terms “accessible” and “accessibility” to include ideas and principles of usability and inclusive design. Accessibility is not achieved by passing a single test; if technology and content is not usable, it is not accessible.
- Accessible Procurement: Accessible procurement and procurement accessibility refer to the policies, practices, and processes needed to design, develop, maintain, purchase, sell, and license accessible technology products and services.
- Digital Accessibility: Accessibility is about more than websites. This Toolkit uses the phrase “digital accessibility” to broadly cover the accessibility of digital products, services, and content including websites, software applications, kiosks, and a host of other technologies (see “Technology” definition below). Additional examples of digital workplace tools can be found in Section 2 of this resource.
- People with Disabilities / Disabled People: Employees, applicants, customers, and the public who need accessible technology have a wide range of disabilities, both visible and hidden. An accessible procurement program benefits people with vision, hearing, physical, cognitive and learning disabilities, and other disabilities. This Toolkit includes ideas about ways in which people with disabilities can assist organizations committed to purchasing accessible technology.
Reflecting the thinking of the disability community, this Toolkit uses the terms “people with disabilities” and “disabled people” interchangeably. The term “disability talent” is also used to reflect the value people with disabilities bring to the 21st century workforce.
- Purchaser: Except for very small organizations, no one individual is the “purchaser” or “seller” of third-party technology products and services. This Toolkit uses the shorthand “purchaser” and “seller” to include not only the people signing the contract, but also decision-makers, influencers, product owners, and others with a direct responsibility for bringing technology into an organization as well as delivering that technology. The term purchase includes buy, license or otherwise obtain. The term “sell” includes sell, license, or otherwise offer.
- Technology: This accessible procurement toolkit uses the overarching word “technology” to refer to the vast collection of digital tools, products, services, software applications, websites, peripherals, digital documents, and more that are essential to the modern workforce, marketplace, and supply chain. These terms are at times used interchangeably, as are ”Electronic and Information Technology (EIT)” and “Information and Communications Technology (ICT),” two phrases that often appear in accessibility standards and regulations.
We Value Your Feedback
This is a living document. We invite you to share your experiences with these resources. And we encourage you to share additional resources and tips your organization has found useful to guaranteeing workforce technology that is accessible for everyone.
Please send comments to: [email protected].