Pre-Vetting a Purchase for Digital Accessibility

UCLA Purchases are vetted for accessibility, privacy and security before contracts can be approved.   To ensure a smooth process, we highly recommend using the following steps to pre-vet a vendor or product for issues that could potentially prevent a purchase/contract.

Pre-Vetting a Vendor/Product

1. Search for an accessibility statement or VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) on their main website.

The DCP always searches for this first, as it indicates that the vendor has already at. least considered accessibility and is willing to work toward accessibility.  Not finding these is usually the first red flag to an inaccessible product or a vendor that is unfamiliar with, unwilling or unable to engage with accessibility.  This commonly found in the footer, but can sometimes appear in a side or main menu.  This can be labeled as many things.  Here are some buzzwords that might help you find it:  "accessibility", "compliance", and "inclusivity".  We are looking for WCAG 2.0 compliance, so that is a phrase we hope to see in their accessibility statement.   Some places will say "ADA compliance"; however, this is not what we are looking for.  We are looking for "WCAG 2.0 AA".

If you're not sure how to interpret what you find, reach out to the DCP email and we can help!

2. If they do not have an accessibility statement or VPAT, contact the vendor and ask if any accessibility testing has been performed.

If you can't find an accessibility statement or a VPAT contact the vendor's sales or customer service and ask if any accessibility testing has been done.  Occasionally, their VPAT is only provided on request and is not posted on the website.  If they say they have not conducted any testing, you can ask if accessibility is embedded in their roadmap or future updates.

3.  Ask the vendor if they are prepared to provide a testing environment to allow UCLA's digital accessibility testing team to vet the product thoroughly before a contract can be approved. 

If you are looking to expedite the process, we highly recommend obtaining the testing environment credentials because the turnaround can stall this process.  For products that don't have a public instance or are going to be integrated into UCLA's digital world, the DCP team needs to standardly run accessibility testing to confirm the level of accessibility.


Other Factors to Consider in Your Purchase That May Affect the Accessibility Approval

1.  Is it student-facing?

Because of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, disabled students are entitled to equal access to their educational experience.  Therefore, accessibility is a high priority in any tool, product or vendor that interfaces with students.

2.  Is it instructional/academic?

Again, because of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, disabled students are entitled to equal access to their educational experience.  Therefore, accessibility is a high priority in any tool, product or vendor that interfaces with students.  If it is instructional in nature, CAE and the ADA/504 Compliance Officer may need to be part of the discussion and evaluation.

3.  How many users will (possibly) interface with it?

The size of the target audience is very important.  It helps us prevent the "snowball effect" where someone makes a case for a product or vendor to be approved because it "only will be used by a few people" and then others believe that gives it automatic approval to be scaled up or applied elsewhere.

4. Is it public facing, UCLA log-on, or specialized internal use?

Like the size of the target audience, the scope of the users are also very important.  It lets us know what laws and restrictions apply.

5.  Is this product specialized so there are not equivalent alternatives?

We ask that you consider looking into what the accessible alternatives may be before getting too attached to a single product, platform or vendor.  However, we understand that some products are so specialized that they have no accessible equivalent. 

6. Is this product/vendor for a medical or research purpose?

Having a medical or research purpose does not automatically mean that there's an exception to be inaccessible, as integrating inaccessible tools and platforms discriminates against disabled health care workers, physicians, researchers, and many others who may come in contact with this product or cause discrimination in who is hired in a position that uses these inaccessible tools/platforms.  However, just as specified before, we recognize that the medical and research fields can have specialized needs and equipment that are inherently inaccessible in nature.

7.  Who is the target audience?

The target audience is important.  If this is public-facing, like for an event, accessibility for all needs needs to be a high priority.  If the target audience is disabled persons, of course, logically the accessibility should be a priority.  Ideally, universal accessibility should always be the priority, but definitely consider the impact of your purchase on the target audience AND on those who may not be the target audience but will be interested or be involved in the future.

8. Are you trying to "piggyback" on another contract?

As previously mentioned, just because a product or vendor has been approved in a specific instance, does not mean it is transferrable or scalable.  What is appropriate in one instance is not necessarily appropriate in others.


Disclaimer:  The DCP ONLY provides accessibility assessments in testing or evaluation of information given.  We are not the deciders of what is approved or what legal exception applies.  We answer only the question:  Is this entity WCAG 2.0 AA compliant?


For more FAQs about digital accessibility and purchasing, please return to the Accessible Purchasing page.