5. Procurement and Accessibility Policy
While the focus of this unit is on procuring accessible information technology (IT), accessible procurement in general should be part of a larger policy that addresses accessibility at the organizational level. A digital accessibility policy can also fall within a larger accessibility policy which addresses other aspects such as access to physical spaces and access to customer service.
Digital accessibility as a policy on its own will be introduced here to set the context for our discussion of procurement in this unit and the discussion of hiring practices in the next unit.
Procurement in Accessibility Policy
Procuring accessible IT will affect numerous elements of an accessibility policy.
In the early stages of developing an accessibility policy, assessing the baseline accessibility level will include taking stock of third-party software used by the organization. These might include a content management system (CMS), a learning management system (LMS), point-of-sale systems, human resource management systems, and a variety of other types of systems for administering day-to-day operations. Each of these at some point would have gone through a procurement process.
Here are some examples of how procurement fits into an organization’s overall digital accessibility policy:
- In order to implement accessible procurement requirements, agreement is needed from the organization’s top level.
- When providing training and support, staff need to be taught how to use accessibility features within the systems procured.
- Ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure that upgrades to systems don’t compromise accessibility. Often, when software as a service (SaaS) is being used, system updates behind the scenes go unnoticed by typical users of the system.
Readings & References: For more about procurement and accessibility policy, visit these resources:
- Ontario Public Service: Policies That Make Accessibility Work
- Accessibility Rules for Procurement (Ontario)
Ontario Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation:
- A guide to developing an accessibility policy for organizations with 1-49 employees [PDF]
- Developing accessibility policies and a multi-year accessibility plan: A guide for organizations with 50 or more employees [PDF]
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act A Comprehensive Guide for Developing Accessibility Policies and Accessibility Plans [PDF]
- Let the Buyer be Aware: The Importance of Procurement in Accessibility Policy
- Developing Organizational Policies on Web Accessibility
- How to create an accessibility plan and policy