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Procurement & Digital Accessibility: I Like WCAG & Long Walks on the Beach

E Foley 05/15/18

In our recent post, 10 Essential Questions to Include in Every RFP to Ensure Accessibility, you got our handy dandy cut-and-paste list of questions to use when you’ve got budget to spend and you need to procure accessible technology.

Now, we’re going to give you some things to look for in the answers to those questions. If you’re going to say, “I do!” to a big purchase, you want to be super sure that it doesn’t live in its mother’s basement—I mean, have compatibility issues with popular screen readers.

RFP icon - two colorful binders with tabs

RFP Red Flags

“Designed with accessibility / WCAG / people with disabilities in mind.”

This sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t actually sayanything. If you kept your grandmother in mind while baking a pie, that doesn’t guarantee you baked Grandma’s special apple pie. You need to use Grandma’s recipe to do that. Did the vendor meet WCAG success criteria? Who knows?

“We are 100% compliant!”

Unless it is the simplest of technologies, there is probably some small portion of it that is inaccessible to some subset of people with disabilities. If an RFP comes back claiming 100% compliance, ask if they’ve done user testing by people with disabilities. Oftentimes, actual users of assistive technology can hit on bugs that automated tests miss.

“We did an audit… last year.”

Unless the product is exactly the same as it was last year, the audit results aren’t worth much anymore. Every time an update is pushed into production, an accessibility issue could be popping up, too. At a minimum, there should be a yearly audit, but ideally, testing for accessibility should be happening as part of the regular QA process.

“Here are the known issues.”

Be wary if it ends there. Sometimes in tech speak “known issue” translates to, “that’s going to be that way forever.” You want to see details for a workaround for the issue or a roadmap for fixing it.

RFP Wins

“Here are the places that aren’t great…yet.”

Yes! We love a vendor who can admit a weakness and point us to the roadmap they have for getting it fixed. As their product evolves, there are going to be accessibility issues that pop up. You want to know that the vendor can fess up when things are wrong and have a game plan for fixing them in a timely manner.

“We’ve partnered with (accessibility experts) for testing.”

Accessibility testing can be a pretty big lift, especially for smaller development teams. It’s often more cost-effective to partner with someone like Level Access and get access to top-of-the-line tools and two decades of industry experience.

“We did user testing with people with disabilities.” (Double bonus: “Here’s video.”)

The best way to find out if a piece of hardware or software is accessible by people who are blind is to ask people who are blind to try it out. (Ditto for every other disability.) A vendor who understands the value of getting people with disabilities to do user testing truly cares about accessibility.

“Here’s how we’ve integrated accessibility in from the very beginning.”

This is what makes our hearts go pitter-pat!

PITTER. PAT.

The best way to build accessible technology is to be planning for accessible technology right from square one. If you find a vendor who is doing that, you sign on the dotted line because you’ve found a winner. They’ve realized they can have good design, a good heart, and a good bottom line, all in in one. Gotta love that.

Need some RFP love?

Policies, procedures, and paperwork got you down? We feel you. How about a chat? We’re cool people and can make talking about this stuff wayyyy less painful than you think. If you’re not ready for a conversation, we’ve got something else for you: a free webinar – How to Buy Buy Buy Accessible TechnologyTHIS Thursday, May 17th at 2pm ET/11am PT with Elle Waters, our Vice President of Community and Global Development.  Even if you can’t make it, sign up and we’ll send you the recording, slides, and transcript after the webinar. 

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