Working with Vendors

When procuring software or website development:

Procurement Process Recommendations

Please consult Procurement Services for specific procurement guidance. Consider accessibility throughout the procurement process in each of the following steps:


Include conformance with UChicago’s digital accessibility standards in requirements documentation.

When procuring software with a user interface, request a completed VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) or ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report). The University’s preferred version is WCAG or INT. The VPAT is a template developed by the ITI (Information Technology Industry Council) for vendors to self-report on the accessibility of their digital products. An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a completed VPAT. The terms VPAT and ACR are often used interchangeably.

Vendor and product selection

Analyze the vendor’s commitment to accessibility

  • Do they have an accessibility page or statement on their website?
  • Search “accessibility” on their website to get a quick sense of their attention to the topic.
  • Is their VPAT readily available on their site?

Analyze the VPAT

Conduct a VPAT analysis. If the vendor doesn’t have a VPAT, this is a red flag. Ask them how they plan to report on the accessibility of their product.

Conduct accessibility testing

Ask the vendor for access to their product. Using automated tools and manual testing methods, assess the accessibility of their product. If this isn’t possible, request a vendor demo to support their accessibility statements.

Address known accessibility concerns

  • Request a vendor roadmap for remediation of accessibility issues.
  • Create an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP) and store it for future reference. In the EEAAP, describe workarounds to known issues in advance, so that users with disabilities who encounter barriers can be afforded an equal opportunity to receive the same information, obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement.
  • Create and post an accessibility statement, so that users know who to contact if they encounter an accessibility barrier. For example: “If you encounter any accessibility barriers while using [this technology], please contact [name of responsible person] at [email address] or [phone number]”.

Contract negotiation

  • Work with Procurement to include accessibility standards in the contract.
  • Archive accessibility documentation.

Product onboarding

Configure with accessibility in mind.

  • Request information from the vendor on how to configure their product in the most accessible way.
  • Configure with those guidelines in mind prior to user testing and implementation.

Contract renewal

  • Request updated VPAT and analyze it against the previous version.
  • Request an updated product accessibility roadmap.
  • Analyze status of previous roadmap commitments.
  • Update accessibility language if standards have changed.

Assessing the VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template)

After you receive the completed VPAT, review it to make a preliminary assessment of product conformance. The VPAT should be used in conjunction with hands-on product testing or a product demo. A strong VPAT should include:

Introductory section:

  • Product name and version
  • Report date—best case is to be less than one year old with no major releases after the report was created
  • An accurate product description
  • Contact information
  • Evaluation methodology, including testing tools and assistive technology used
  • A single product, not multiple products
  • Creation by a third-party vendor (preferred)

WCAG success criteria table

The Conformance Level column should include proper terminology, such as: Supports, Partially Supports, Does Not Support, N/A (Note: Not Evaluated should be used for Level AAA only). Passes, Fails, Conformant, Compliant, Meets, Doesn’t Meet, etc. are examples of incorrect terminology. A variety of conformance levels should also be included. A VPAT with Supports in all columns would be something to discuss with the vendor because it would be unusual for there to be no exceptions. There should be very few instances of N/A.

When the conformance level is Partially Supports or Does Not Support, the Remarks and Explanations column should identify which functionality or features have issues.

Evaluate concerns

Some things to consider during the evaluation process:

  • For items marked Partially Supports or Does Not Support, will these issues block essential functionality? If so, this is a major concern. Does the vendor offer an accessible alternative?
  • If you have any questions about the VPAT, please reach out to the vendor for clarification.