Accessible Purchasing FAQs

The DCP's Role In Accessible Purchasing

The DCP provides testing and advising for UCLA Purchasing and Procurement around vendors' and/or products' digital accessibility as it aligns with the WCAG 2.0 AA standards.  The DCP does not enforce standards, give permissions, or grant exceptions around UCLA Purchasing decisions. All final decisions about whether an item or service is approved by UCLA Purchasing is solely at the discretion of the UCLA Purchasing department.  

The DCP understands that full accessibility is difficult to achieve and we're hoping to help UCLA as a campus to aspire to be as accessible as possible.  We aim to be helpful and pragmatic in bridging the gap between our current accessibility and the universal design of the future.

How do I check if my potential product or vendor is up to UCLA digital accessibility requirements?

To ensure your purchasing inquiry goes smoothly we highly recommend pre-vetting for digital accessibility.



Q:  If I want to find out if a potential vendor or product is digitally accessible, how do I request this?

A:  Before contacting the DCP, please review the pre-vetting instruction (link above) and complete these steps and reflect on the "Factors to Consider" section.  If you have completed this then please email with your request.  Please include:  your name, the requesting department, the name of the vendor, any contact information for the vendor, information about a test product/site for us to look into, and the estimated cost of the purchase.  There will be an intake/request form soon, but it is not live at this time.

Q:  Why does my product/service have to be digitally accessible?

A:  Digital accessibility of a public university is incorporated into federal laws, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, specifically in Section 504 and Section 508.  Additionally, UCOP's Electronic Accessibility Policy restates the UC System's commitment to digital accessibility.  Lastly, the University of California's Terms and Conditions (UCT&Cs) for purchasing reiterate the need for digital accessibility in Article 6, Sections D & E.

Q:  What does it mean to be "digitally accessible"?

A:  Digital accessibility is ensuring that digital content (websites, PDFs, videos, audio files, Word files, spreadsheets, infographics, flyers and more!) are useable and understandable to those who have disabilities of the mind, ears, eyes and/or hands.

Q:  What is the standard for digital accessibility?

A:  The standard stated by the 508, UCT&Cs, the UCOP Electronic Accessibility Policy and many other country's web accessibility policies is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA.  WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria is an objective list of technical specifications that can be tested by a Web Accessibility Specialist to determine if a product meets this standard.

Q:  Who makes the decisions about whether I can purchase this product or service?

A:  Again, the DCP's role is only advisory.  We answer one question in our testing, "Does this product/service meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards?"  The decision of whether the product or service is "acceptably accessible" for the circumstances is not up to our department.  This decision is up to the purchasing department.  However, even if something is purchased, if it is not fully accessible you may run into other problems including getting the proper permits from CPO for implementation.  Keep this in mind when purchasing products and services.

Q:  We've used this vendor or product in the past, why do I have to check if they're compliant now and not before?

A:  Previously, the purchasing process had no way to check whether or not vendors or products were digitally accessible.  However, the language in the UCT&Cs has been present in contracts previously.  There is a high probabiIity that if your last contract was recent, that this was already in Article 6, Sections D&E.  If this is true, the vendor should be providing an accessible service or product to be in compliant with the contract that's already been signed.

Q:  My product or service was deemed non-compliant and Purchasing did not approve this purchase, what can I do?

A:  The DCP is happy to get involved with discussions with a vendor to deem what changes can be made, if any, to meet compliance.  

Q:  My product or service was deemed non-compliant and Purchasing did not approve this purchase; however, there are no other vendors who provide this specific product or service.  What do I do?

A:  In certain cases, exceptions can be made when the inherent function of the product or service cannot be found with an accessible vendor/product.  Exceptions are granted with the caveat that an equal, alternative format is provided.  Accessible alternative formats are a last resort, not for a separate but equal experience.   These alternative formats can be developed and decided on by the ADA/504 Compliance Office with discussions with the CAE, DCP and/or other related department.

Q:  How do I get an exception?

A:  This is a complicated process, please plan extra time in your purchase plan if you're not sure your vendor is accessible.  The UCLA ADA/504 Compliance Office holds the power to grant exceptions.  However, the criteria is very stringent, and personal preference of vendor is not a successful basis for exceptions.  To get more information about this process and the criteria, please contact the ADA/504 Compliance Officer.


IMPORTANT:  A common confusion has been that the purchasing process is enforced by the UCLA Policy 4xx:  UCLA Web Accessibility Requirements which is currently in draft.  This draft policy is NOT the enforcing document.   Please see the question "Why does my product/service have to be digitally accessible?".