Accessibility Tip of the Week

Before you buy (part four)...

  • Summary: Write accessibility into your contracts and agreements.
  • Who it helps: Your employees and customers with disabilities.
  • Additional benefits: Buying accessible up front saves your organization time and money in the long run.

When you buy a website, software, platform or other digital service, it is important to include accessibility as a requirement for that purchase. The fourth step is ensuring the accessibility requirement in the contract.

If your organization purchases digital products through a contracting model, add a requirement that the product or content be accessible. These requirements typically includes the following:

  • A statement that the product conforms with the appropriate standard.
    • United States: Section 508 for most government agencies and ADA for other organizations
    • Canada and Europe: EN 301-549
  • What level of the WCAG standards you expect the product to meet.
    • The most comprehensive standard is WCAG 2.2 A & AA.
  • Any additional accessibility requirements.
    • For example, if you are purchasing a system that allows others to create content, you may want to specify that the resulting content be accessible or that the system check content for accessibility.

You may also include an amount of time that accessibility issues will be corrected. You may be able to specify a time frame that accessibility will be fixed after being reported with the contact language. Sometimes this isn’t possible. Even if it is not written in the contract, it’s important to understand the process of how the vendor incorporates fixes and improvements.

GSA provides sample contract language for various situations. You can use this as a starting point and make changes that you need such as replacing “Section 508” with the appropriate standard or the WCAG version.

Be thoughtful about the verbiage and verification process you include in the contract. Expect some negotiation back and forth, especially regarding the timelines that fixes need to be addressed.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.