Jeff Kline, Program Director of Texas Statewide EIR Accessibility, joined us to discuss challenges and best practices for procuring accessible IT including:
- How to build well-defined accessibility requirements into your solicitations
- The importance of engaging an Accessibility SME and their role in the procurement lifecycle
- How to validate the accessibility of vendor products and analyze Accessibility Conformance Reports
- How Policy Driven Adoption for Accessibility drives vendor awareness and progress towards more accessible offerings
Responses to audience questions we were not able to get to during the live presentation.
What are some of the best training recommended for accessibility professionals specifically around VPAT testing?
JK: By VPAT testing I assume you mean compliance testing to 508 or WCAG standards. I can’t recommend anyone specifically, but you might have a look at the WCAG pages, or reference pages of 508, and the DHS Trusted Tester program.
What training do you recommend for an organization that has basic knowledge of WCAG 2.X & US 508? Should there be 2 people for redundancy sake?
JK: See above, and it is always a good practice to maintain multiple resources with like skills…in case one wins the lottery.
Can you talk about how many pages you assess for accessibility if it is made up of hundreds or thousands of pages? Do you find there is a sample of say 10-percent of the pages reveal roughly how accessible a site or program is?
JK: Automated test tools / services can check all pages, but only a subset of the WCAG success criteria. The other 70% has to be done via manual testing. If you use analytics for your sight, I suggest manual testing of the most frequently accessed pages or applications. That would likely start at the home page and several layers down from there.
Sec 508 still references WCAG 2.0 AA. Will they be moving to 2.1 (and/or should we for our requirements)?
JK: Texas rules typically harmonize with US Section 508, so if they move to 2.1, then it’s likely that Texas will transition to it as well at some point. Also, there is nothing preventing an entity from specifying 2.1 for projects, as 2.0 can be considered the minimum standard.
If you have the internal expertise, is your time better served testing the vendor’s product yourself rather than vetting the VPAT?
JK: In my experience, VPATs are usually a work of fiction. If the VPAT is not credible, don’t waste your time testing. The vendor should test. Ask the vendor for supporting docs, test plans, tools, results, etc. If this can’t be produced, assume major non-compliance and factor that into procurement decision
Canadian here; we ask or require WCAG-EM reports as proof of compliance. We often get blank looks or someone throwing a VPAT at us and hoping we go away. Is it unreasonable or odd to ask for a WCAG-EM report outside of the US?
JK: Not odd or unreasonable at all. If the purchasers don’t hold vendors accountable for accessibility, they run the risk of disenfranchising their community of people with disabilities, and are likely more susceptible to complaints and litigation.
If accessibility concerns aren’t brought until after a contract is signed, have you lost all of your leverage to get developments and updates made?
JK: You would need to consult an attorney on that one, but if the appropriate accessibility language is in the contract, there would likely be leverage.
Are there groups of procurement or accessibility professionals or others that pool their information about specific IT products or vendors?
JK: Not that I am aware of. Ad hoc or peer to peer only. You might also inquire about a specific product on one of the accessibility discussion forums.
Our internal AT testing team requires that a product specialist be a part of the testing which means that the AT SME and the Product SME work together. We also ask for validation that the end product functions efficiently with: screen reading software, screen magnification software, text reading software, and speech recognition software. Is there a better way to require that, and/or are other AT specialties missing?
JK: If I understand your question correctly, consider requiring the review of test plans, test cases, and test execution results as part of the process.
About the Presenter
Jeff Kline is the author of Strategic IT Accessibility: Enabling the Organization and is a recognized subject matter expert in keys areas of IT accessibility that include policy, rulemaking, process integration, procurement and risk mitigation. He currently serves as Program Director of Statewide Electronic and Information Resources (EIR) Accessibility at the Texas Department of Information Resources, and consults on IT accessibility policy matters for federal agencies, NGOs, and accessibility certification bodies. Prior to his current position in public service, Jeff managed IBM’s Worldwide Accessibility Consulting and Business Transformation initiatives, and held other management positions in research and product development during his 26 year IBM career including industrial design, operating system UI development, and system usability.