Accessibility Procurement Resources
Oversight and Consultation
The Digital Accessibility team is part of the electronic information resource (EIR) procurement process and vets each purchase order for compliance with TAC 213. We perform this service using a variety of processes including:
- Reviewing Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT 2.0 is the minimum requirement and the document must include Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 A and AA conformance standards)
- Performing a variety of quality assurance using assistive technology to verify VPAT documentation from vendors
- Reviewing customer feedback about the product
- Question and answer sessions during product demonstrations
Prior to requisitioning software, please make sure that the vendor meets Texas Administrative Code 206 and 213 rules. It is faster to purchase accessible software that requires minimal review than it is to have inaccessible software go through a time-consuming exception process.
Furthermore, if a software exception is granted, this does not preclude a person with disabilities from filing a lawsuit against the university. The Office for Civil Rights will take any exceptions under consideration, but their first priority is to ensure that discrimination based on EIR does not occur.
The Digital Accessibility team also maintains a Qualtrics survey to assist with the service evaluation process. This survey is designed to elicit the use case, customer type (student/faculty/staff), the number of users, and its accessibility standards so that we may perform a product assessment.
Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 213
Rule §213.38 gives a full breakdown of Texas code related to electronic information resources (EIR) accessible product procurement. We refer to these rules when reviewing any software purchases and it is important that you understand state law related to accessible software purchasing.
(6) Electronic and information resources (EIR)--Includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment used to create, convert, duplicate, or deliver data or information. EIR includes telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers and fax machines. The term does not include any equipment that contains embedded information technology that is used as an integral part of the product, but the principal function of which is not the acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. For example, thermostats or temperature control devices, and medical equipment that contain information technology that is integral to its operation, are not information technology. If the embedded information technology has an externally available web or computer interface, that interface is considered EIR. Other terms such as, but not limited to, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Electronic Information Technology (EIT), etc. can be considered interchangeable terms with EIR for purposes of applicability or compliance with this chapter.
Any technology that is identified by the above definition must receive an accessibility review prior to purchase.
Texas State Purchasing Policy - Accessibility Shortcuts
Key Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Software
- Does the software vendor have a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) or another form of accessibility conformance reporting (ACR)?
- Ask the vendor how they test for accessibility
- Search product websites for ACR or accessibility information
- Avoid vendors that cannot or will not produce an ACR
The EIRAC created a PowerPoint presentation to outline the relevant details for most staff that create EIR requisitions. The slides should assist with focusing your knowledge on the Federal and State law surrounding accessibility and EIR procurement.
What is a VPAT?
State agencies and institutions of higher education are responsible for:
- Determining whether compliance with a provision of electronic information resources (EIR) accessibility law or administrative rules imposes a significant difficulty or expense on the agency or institution
- Obtaining an exception from the head of the agency or institution if compliance imposes a significant difficulty or expense
- Providing individuals with disabilities an alternate method of access if an exception is determined by the head of the agency or institution
– 1 TAC 213 – Accessibility Exceptions
The Vice President for Information Technology has the designated authority to grant exceptions to EIR law referenced in 1 TAC 213. When purchasing EIR that does not conform to 1 TAC 206 or 213, the department, division or college that wishes to purchase and implement any digital resource captured by the Texas Administrative Code must apply for an exception.
- The form should be reviewed by the highest authority in the area requesting an exception as their signature is required.
- Until a decision about the exception is reached, all negotiation with the vendor should cease to avoid wasted effort.
- Complete all areas of the form but do not sign until you receive a copy via Adobe Sign.
Upon completion, the exception form should be mailed to the electronic information resources accessibility coordinator for review. After EIRAC review, the exception will be forwarded to the VP for Information Technology for a decision.