Procurement

Working with Vendors

When procuring software or website development

Assessing the VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template)

Request the VPAT

During software procurement, request a VPAT from the vendor for the product you’re considering.

The VPAT is a form developed by the ITI (Information Technology Industry Council) for vendors to self-report on the accessibility of their digital products. Because the University uses WCAG 2.1 Level AA as its standard, the WCAG version of the VPAT is preferred.

A VPAT contains two parts:

  1. Introductory section
  2. Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) table with conformance per WCAG success criteria

Review the VPAT

After you receive the 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:

In the 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) unless it’s from a large software company

In the ACR table, where WCAG success criteria are detailed:

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 format?
  • If you have any questions about the VPAT, please reach out to the vendor for clarification.

Procurement Process Recommendations

Please consult Procurement Services for specific procurement guidance.

Consider accessibility throughout the procurement process in each of the following steps:

Requirements

  • Include accessibility in requirements documentation.

Vendor and product selection

  1. Include accessibility in Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) documents.
  2. Analyze the vendor
    1. Do they have an accessibility page or statement on their website?
    2. Search “accessibility” on their website to get a quick sense of their attention to the topic.
    3. Is their VPAT readily available on their site?
  3. Analyze the product and request the following from the vendor:
    1. 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.
    2. Product accessibility assessment created by a third-party tester
    3. Product accessibility roadmap
    4. Hands-on product access to evaluate accessibility before purchasing. If this isn’t possible, request a vendor demo to support their accessibility statements.

Contract negotiation

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

Product onboarding

  1. User acceptance testing (UAT)
    1. Include accessibility assessment during UAT.
    2. Request that the vendor remediate high-impact accessibility issues (blockers to user access) prior to acceptance.
    3. Validate testing against vendor-provided VPAT, if provided.
  2. Configuration
    1. Configure the product in the most accessible way, including color contrast choices, link styles, and more.

Contract renewal

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