Accessible Technology Purchases
Electronic and Information Resources (EIR) includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the creation, conversion, duplication, or delivery of data or information. Categories of EIR include: Software/Operating System, Telecommunications, Web-based (hosted), Video/multimedia, Desktop/portable computers, Self-contained/closed products.
- Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
To assist government contracting officials and other buyers in identifying commercially available information and communications technology with accessible features, ITI has developed the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template®, or VPAT®.
- IT Accessibility
Accessible technology means tools that can be used successfully by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. When technology is accessible, each user is able to interact with it in ways that work best for him or her.
- Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
VPAT is a registered service mark of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and was developed by ITI in partnership with the General Services Administration to address the issue of matching information and communications technology (ICT) products features to Section 508 accessibility requirements using a checklist.
A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) document helps procurement officials determine how information and communication technology (ICT) products meet the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility. This document is critical for ensuring products that are being reviewed during any market research or evaluation phase are compliant with relevant accessibility standards.
- Federal - Section 508
Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)). Section 508 provides guidelines for rendering ICT accessible to, and therefore usable by, people with limited capacities to see, hear, or exercise muscular control. On October 4, 2017, ITI published an updated version, VPAT 2.0, reflecting the provisions of the newly-published Revised Section 508. VPAT 2.0 will incorporate provisions relating to the European ICT accessibility standards for public sector procurement, EN 301 549, and the W3C® WCAG 2.0 web content accessibility guidelines.
- State - Texas EIR Accessibility Statutes
State agencies and institutions of higher education are required to comply with Texas Electronic and Information Resources (EIR) accessibility statutes and rules to provide accessibility.
- TGC 2054.451, enacted in 2005, requires that all state agencies and institutions of higher education, provide state employees and members of the public access to and use of electronic information resources.
- 1 TAC 206 aligns state web accessibility standards with the federal regulations set forth in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- 1 TAC 213 enacted state standards for procurement, development, or usage of EIR for people with disabilities and also aligns accessibility standards with the federal regulations set forth in Section 508.
- TTU Operating Policies
Specific TTU Operating Policies that apply to accessibility are listed below.
Texas Tech University is committed to making every possible effort to ensure all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Rob Stewart, EdD, Senior Vice Provost, TTU Office of the Provost
- Sam Segran, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology
- John Shelton, Associate General Counsel, Texas Tech University System
- Jennifer Adling, Chief Procurement Officer, Procurement Services
- Larry Phillippe, EdD, Managing Director, Student Disability Services
- John R. Thomas, Managing Director, Technology Support, IT Accessibility Coordinator
- Terry Knight, Instructional Design/Accessibility, eLearning & Academic Partnerships
A VPAT is a disclosure, and does not indicate that a product or service is accessible.
While Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that electronic and information technology (EIT) or electronic and information resources (EIR) products comply with accessibility guidelines, the completion of the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template does not ensure compliance. A VPAT is a standardized form that describes how a product meets each accessibility guideline but institutions must still evaluate these voluntary disclosures.
Is a VPAT required?
This is not an IT requirement. Accessibility is a State of Texas requirement for any electronic and information resources procured by state agencies or institutions of higher education. A VPAT is the most efficient method for the vendor to provide “credible evidence of the vendor's capability or ability to produce accessible EIR products and services.” Alternatively, they can also provide “internal accessibility policy documents, contractual warranties for accessibility, accessibility testing documents, and examples of prior work results.” (TAC §213.38). The VPAT v2.3 form and corresponding instructions can be found at https://www.itic.org/policy/accessibility.
Who governs this?
Accessibility is governed at the Federal, State, and Institutional levels. See “Laws and Policies” section above for specific references.
Who is responsible for reviewing and approving vendor provided accessibility information?
Per OP 52.05.4.b.(2), “The degree of accessibility of a given product should be determined by the procuring department.” The department making the purchase should review the VPAT, or other credible accessibility evidence, and make the determination if the product is sufficiently accessible to meet their needs. This is not an IT requirement – it's from the State of Texas. The TTU Chief Information Officer has designated an IT Accessibility Coordinator to assist with reviewing accessibility documentation. See “TTU Accessibility – Points of Contact” section above to reach the TTU IT Accessibility Coordinator.
Are there exemptions/exceptions to accessibility requirements?
Exemptions are managed at the State level. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) has established and maintains a list of electronic and information technology resources which are determined to be exempt from the standards and specifications of all or part of Chapter 206 and/or Chapter 213 of the Texas Administrative Code.
Exceptions are managed at the Institution level. Per OP 52.05.2, exceptions for a significant difficulty or expense under §2054.460, Texas Government Code must be approved in writing by the President or Chancellor.