It is the responsibility of employees and purchasing agents of Texas A&M University to find the most accessible business solutions possible when procuring Electronic and Information Resources (EIR).
Steps to ensure accessibility
- Do your homework by researching the accessibility of a given product or service before taking steps to purchase it.
- Request a VPAT, and if a vendor does not have one readily available, provide a blank copy and instructions so company representatives may complete one. These may also be available as resources on vendor websites.
- Compare several products or services that meet your business need, and choose the one that best fits your need as well as accessibility requirements.
- Get your procurement and contract offices involved. They often have accessibility language ready to insert into contracts and can work with specific vendors to ensure compliance.
- For additional information, enlist the help of the Texas A&M IT accessibility team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
VPAT usage and limitations
By comparing accessibility features of two or more similar products, a determination can be made regarding the general accessibility of given EIR. But buyer beware; just because a given EIR notates many "supports" within its tables does not necessarily mean it's a good option. Some things to look for:
- If a vendor has never heard of the term VPAT, chances are the EIR in question is not accessible or you may need to do some research on your own.
- A VPAT provided by a company or vendor with all "supports" and not much explanation should raise a red flag regarding its validity.
- More is not always better. Just because a VPAT for a given EIR contains more supported criteria than another, does not make it the more accessible choice. Careful consideration should be taken to analyze how the product or service will be used and how each of the criteria affect that usage.
Depending on scope or utilization of the EIR, additional accessibility testing may be warranted. For example, if a particular software will be utilized for a large group on the Texas A&M campus, accessibility testing would be necessary. This testing can be done at the college or institute level or by the accessibility team at Texas A&M IT. Either way, proper documentation of the accessibility testing is necessary to proceed with procurement of the EIR.
Additional requirements and documentation
Whether an EIR is purchased to fulfill a business need, or services are procured for the development of EIR, ALL procurement documents should include a statement about EIR accessibility standards. These may include, but are not limited to, Requests for Qualifications, Requests for Proposals, and Contracts. For assistance, contact your procurement/contracts office or those at TAMU.
Did you know?
- In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
- About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
- The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
- Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
- Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
- Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
- Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
- Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
- Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
- Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
- Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
- Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
- A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
- There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
- HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
- Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
- If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
- If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
- If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
- An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.