Several procurement channels and methods can help you buy accessible IT products, solutions, and services. Most purchases require buyers to obtain accessibility information about the product, and/or include accessibility language in contracts.
Types of Purchases
Most IT purchases fall into one of three categories: Goods (“commodities”), Services (e.g., "interpreting services") and Professional/Technical Services. Each uses a different process to promote accessible technology.
The procurement process for IT commodities typically requires vendors to submit VPATs (Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates) detailing the accessibility of their products. Check the Products tab for guidance for all parties in the process, from RFP creators to vendors.
Policy Driven Adoption for Accessibility (PDAA)
The State of Minnesota is partnering with other states to pilot PDAA, with the goal of increasing the accessibility of vendors' products and services. More information:
The Access-IT Master Contract Program supports the State of Minnesota's objective to improve the accessibility and usability of information technology products and services for all government end-users.
Need to obtain interpreter services or other communications support? Check out the page on ASL/CART services.
To obtain accessibility information about a particular IT product, request that the vendor provide VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, an industry-wide form that provides accessibility information) documentation.The following materials provide some background and guidance for all parties in the process. Regardless of your role, you may want to review all the documents to understand how the pieces fit together:
If you are buying a non-standard IT product or buying with your Authority of Local Purchase (ALP), then you should still require the vendor to provide you a VPAT with information about the accessibility of the product.
Many companies provide completed VPATs for their products on their web site. Most often, these are just Section 508 VPATs. The State of Minnesota also requires WCAG 2.0 VPATs. please review the materials listed above for more information.
Did you know?
All desktop and laptop computers in the MN.IT standards program are accessible.
Practices and processes that support accessibility are baked into existing procurement processes so that procurement staff can easily navigate their way toward greater accessibility. You can find overviews of the processes and associated tools and templates at:
Professional services acquired under the Master Contract programs administered by the Office of Enterprise Technology and the Department of Administration including BUY-IT programs such as ASAP-IT and SITE. The terms of the contracts and work order templates utilized under these programs require adherence to the States adopted IT Accessibility Standards which largely incorporate the federal Section 508 standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at level AA.
Did you know?
Including accessibility requirements from the beginning dramatically reduces costs in the long-run.
All State of Minnesota IT Professional/Technical Contract Forms include language that promotes the procurement of accessible products and services. This link also includes tools developed by the Department of Administration specifically related to ensuring that the Accessibility standards are appropriately applied.
If you need accessibility information about a particular IT product, request that the vendor provide a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, an industry-wide form that provides accessibility information) Download the VPAT forms (Section 508 and WCAG 2.0).
If a vendor is doing some or all of the development work, the contract should specify the accessibility requirements. Your team should also be ready to validate and test the solution for accessibility.
Did you know?
Including accessibility requirements from the beginning dramatically reduces costs in the long run.