Evaluate Bids for Accessibility
After defining requirements and gathering detailed information about accessibility it is time to evaluate proposals. Here are some best practices for incorporating accessibility into the product selection process once the bids are in:
- Establish a team responsible for the accessibility portion of product evaluation. This might involve bringing in an in-house Subject Matter Expert (SME) who can both assist and identify any outside needed resources. If the product owner or in-house procurement specialists do not have the expertise to evaluate whether proposals will deliver an accessible product, identify internal or external resources that the procurement team can reach out to. Determine when it is appropriate to hire outside accessibility expertise.
- Conduct an accessibility demonstration. This may have been done while gathering information, but an additional demonstration may be needed if enhancements were promised at the time of market research. Key to the success of an accessibility demonstration at any stage is having participation of people with disabilities, from your own workforce or outside organizations. Involve your employee resource group, hire a consultant or non-profit organization that offers accessibility evaluation with disabled people, or connect with local disability rights organizations.
- Arrange for an in-house evaluation of accessibility claims in the final bids, which may require access to a secure test environment.
- If your organization does not yet have the employee resources to conduct an evaluation in-house, determine whether an independent audit of accessibility claims is appropriate, who will conduct it, from whose budged will the cost be taken.
- Determine how your organization will handle technologies that are not fully accessible.
- Will you disqualify vendors who don’t respond with detailed information requested?
- Does your organization have evaluation factors? If so, determine where accessibility is ranked among your evaluation factors. Can it be given a higher ranking in light of the legal and reputational risk factors and the importance of accessibility to your organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives? The Tools for Internal Advocacy section of this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit can help demonstrate the need for ranking accessibility high in evaluation factors.
- Establish a risk matrix that ranks accessibility seriously. (The categorization and prioritization factors used in the tool inventory may be useful.)
- Is there someone in the organization empowered to stop the procurement if it’s particularly high-risk and accessibility has not been adequately considered?
- If there is only one vendor in a space for a needed product and accessibility has not been adequately addressed, work with the vendor to develop a roadmap to accessibility that has timeframes and deliverables along the way. This roadmap should later be built into the product contract. See also the Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit section titled, “Follow-up When Tech is Not Fully Accessible.”