When purchasing or licensing video conferencing platforms, always keep in mind that people with disabilities may be participating as audience members, speakers, screen sharers, anyone using chat functionality, or administrators. An accessible platform will work for people in all these roles.
Please note: This resource provides information about purchasing and licensing accessible video conferencing platforms. It is not intended as legal advice.
Questions to Ask Vendors
Have a serious conversation with potential vendors about product accessibility. These questions can help you get started:
- What are the captioning and sign language capabilities of the platform?
- If there is auto-captioning, what is the accuracy rate?
- Is captioning built in [auto-captioning / AI / text to speech] or does an external live captioner have to be hired?
- If a live captioner must be hired or is desired, what is the process to integrate captions
- Can participants pin a sign language interpreter on their screen so they are always in view?
- What languages are captions available in?
- If there are break-out rooms, how do captions work in those rooms (ie do all participants who need captions have to be in one room, can there be more than one captioner, etc.)
- Has the platform been tested for accessibility?
- What testing was done and what standard was used?
- Were disabled people involved with the testing and if so how?
- Will the vendor allow you to undertake your own testing?
- What features and functionality were tested?
- Ask for a copy of testing results, including known bugs and remediation roadmap
- Does this product meet international accessibility standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA, Section 508 (USA), Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, EN 301 549 (EU). What are the known aspects (if any) that do not meet standards? Is there a roadmap to address?
- Is there a VPAT (voluntary product accessibility template) and an ACR Accessibility Conformance Report for this product (required for any product sold to US federal government and other public entities). If so, ask to see a copy and review carefully.
Sample Contract Language
For other ideas on contract language for accessibility, see the section in Disability:IN’s Accessible Procurement Toolkit titled “Build Accessibility Obligations into Purchase Documents”
Please note: The Accessible Procurement Toolkit, like this document, is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Sample contract language is for general guidance only and is not a substitute for consulting with lawyers and other procurement experts.
Accessibility of Platform
#The Parties have discussed the accessibility needs of people who are deaf, blind, hard of hearing, or have mobility or cognitive disabilities and who may be using [PLATFORM NAME] as meeting attendees, organizers, speakers or administrators. [VENDOR NAME] will ensure that [PLATFORM NAME] is accessible to and usable by people with disabilities by meeting the contract obligations set forth in this section.
Accessibility laws and standards.
#[VENDOR NAME] will ensure that all features and functions of [PLATFORM NAME] conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.1 Conformance Level AA and [list any other applicable laws and accessibility standards] at the time the [PLATFORM NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME] and throughout the term of this contract/license.
#All product revisions, updates, patches, and new releases will conform to the accessibility laws and standards set forth in this section. [VENDOR NAME] will include information about accessibility improvements, as applicable, in the release notes for each new product release and update.”
Captioning and sign language capabilities.
[This section should specify how captions will be provided in the product so there is no misunderstanding. If the platform only has captioning support, but the company has to hire an outside captioner, that should be stated. If the platform has built in AI, text-to speech, live captions, that should be specified. Vendor should agree to the accuracy rate of live AI captions.
Available captioning language (i.e. English, Spanish) and who is responsible for providing languages other than English should also be specified.
Details about using captioning in break-out rooms
Accessibility Testing and Remediation prior to delivery
[VENDOR NAME] will conduct automated and manual accessibility testing of [PRODUCT NAME] throughout the development process. At least 90 days before [PRODUCT NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME] results of such testing will be provided to [COMPANY NAME]. All accessibility barriers identified in the testing report will be remediated prior to delivery date.
#[VENDOR NAME] will conduct usability testing of [PRODUCT NAME] with people with disabilities including people who use screen readers, need closed captioning, and cannot use a mouse. At a minimum, usability testing will be conducted on the following features of [PRODUCT NAME]: closed captions, screen sharing, log-in, and chat.
#The results of such testing will be provided to [COMPANY NAME] at least 90 days before [PRODUCT NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME]. All accessibility barriers identified during usability testing will be remediated prior to delivery date.
Accessibility testing at time of delivery
#[VENDOR NAME] will conduct manual and automated testing immediately prior to product delivery. Results of such testing shall be provided to [COMPANY NAME]. [PRODUCT NAME] may be refused at [COMPANY NAME’S] discretion if identified accessibility barriers cannot be remediated within [SPECIFY TIME PERIOD] of delivery.
[Another option here is to state that the parties will work in good faith to develop an enforceable timeline to remediate any barriers identified in testing results at time of delivery. Failure to reach agreement would be handled as a breach, or could give company right to refuse acceptance of product.]
[Another option here is for the company to conduct its own testing, with the vendor responsible for remediating any barriers, or for an identified third party to conduct testing.
Accessibility barriers identified during the term of the contract
[Specify a reporting and response process for remediating accessibility barriers identified during the contract term. Process should include time frame for remediation, responsibility for remediation work and cost, responsibility for any interim work-arounds and their cost.]
[VENDOR NAME] agrees to indemnify [COMPANY NAME] against losses or damages that may occur as a result of failure to meet the accessibility provisions of this contract. Losses and damages may include but are not limited to, attorneys’ fees and costs and damages that [COMPANY NAME] may incur as a result of a lawsuit or legal claim brought by a person with a disability concerning the accessibility of [PLATFORM NAME].
Breach of accessibility provisions
[Specify consequences if product is delivered without specified accessibility. Could include monetary payments.]