Depending on your needs, there are a variety of resources and strategies to help you buy accessible products, solutions, and services. Most purchases require buyers to provide accessibility information about the product, and/or accept accessibility language in contracts.
Types of Purchases
Most IT purchases fall into one of three categories: Goods (“commodities” or “commercial of the shelf software” or COTS), Services (e.g., "interpreting services") and Professional/Technical Services (such as creating websites or configuring software. Each uses a different process to promote accessible technology.
The procurement process for IT commodities/COTS typically requires vendors to submit VPATs (Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates) detailing the accessibility of their products. Check the VPATs section for guidance for all parties in the process, from RFP creators to vendors.
Visit the Accessibility Master Contract program on the Department of Administration (ADM) site for information on video captioning and document creation and remediation services. Note: Captioning, which helps make video accessible, is distinct from CART, which is an accommodation (see below) for live meetings and conference calls. See the Captioning section in Multimedia for more information.
Policy Driven Adoption for Accessibility (PDAA)
PDAA is a tool that allows vendor organizations to measure their internal support for accessibility. The stronger an organization’s support for accessibility, the more likely their products and services will be accessible and usable.
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:
Need to obtain interpreter services or other communications support? Check out the page on how to order ASL/CART services.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates® (VPATs) are a tool to measure an organization’s ability to demonstrate their product’s support for accessibility within the confines of a proposal or bid. It does not replace acceptance testing upon delivery, third-party testing, other accessibility verification, and end-user testing. It is best used as a component when scoring vendor proposals.
All solicitations for IT products, whether COTS (commercial off the shelf) or as part of an integration offering, must include a requirement for a VPAT. When including requirements for a VPAT, be sure to request separate VPATs for each user interface.
We now require vendors to use the “2.0” version of the standard VPAT, which incorporates both the updated Section 508 rule and WCAG 2.0. In addition, we provide some background and guidance for all parties in the process. Those materials reference the “1.0” version but the principles remain relevant. We are in the process of updating those materials.
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. Currently many may be for the old version of Section 508. In those cases, the State of Minnesota requires the vendor submit the new 2.0 VPAT. In some circumstances, we may accept a WCAG 2.0 VPAT as a supplement to an old Section 508 VPAT.
Did you know?
All desktop and laptop computers in the MNIT standards program are accessible.
There is no single way to best ensure when soliciting vendors to perform IT services that the vendor will effectively incorporate accessibility best practices into their work. There are a variety of tools and strategies to use, depending on the type of project and how you solicit the services.