Contracts and Purchasing

Accessibility for Contracts and Purchasing

Washington State University is committed to fostering an inclusive and accessible environment for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors who participate in WSU’s programs or services. In accordance with the university’s accessibility statement and state and federal regulations and laws, these guidelines are provided to assist departments and administrative units to provide effective communications and equitable access to WSU benefits, programs, services, and events to all individuals, including students with mobility, learning, hearing, vision, or speech challenges. This often means providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services to enable those with mobility, learning, hearing, vision, and speech challenges an equal or equivalent opportunity to access the services, programs, and activities at the university.

The Department of Education requires provision of auxiliary aids and services to ensure that university communication to individuals with disabilities is as effective as its communication to individuals without disabilities.

Employees responsible for contracts and purchasing should consider:

  1. Which auxiliary aids and services will be needed to facilitate communication in an effective manner to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities
  2. Determining whether the desired products, services, events, rentals, leases, or programs comply with accessibility standards; and
  3. Formulating language for agreements and proposal requests to ensure ADA compliance.

Does my product, service or program need to be accessible?

Ideally, all products, services, and programs would be universally accessible to the entire WSU population. However, certain products, services, or programs are not yet available in an accessible format, or there is not a current need for those products, services, or programs to be accessible.  In order to determine if your product, service, or program needs to be accessible, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the products, services, or programs be used by or affect more than one person?
    • If no, does this meet the needs of the single user/participant with accessibility needs (give primary consideration to the individual’s requested product or service)?
    • If yes, accessibility becomes a priority.
      • If the product/service/program is required for a person to fully participate in a WSU activity, an accessible product, service, or program should be sourced.
      • If the product/service/program is not required for a person to equally participate in a program, an accessible product may not be a priority at this time.

The above questions are a good place to start. However, please know that consultation is available regarding accessibility from the Access Center (Pullman or Vancouver), Disability Resources (Spokane), Disability Support Services (Tri-Cities), Human Resource Services, the ADA Coordinator, the Information Technology Accessibility Coordinator, and WSU Compliance and Civil Rights.

High Priority for Accessible Products, Services, or Programs

WSU has identified the following items as “high priority” for accessibility. That means that employees are expected to make reasonable efforts to ensure that new products, services, programs, rentals, or leases are compliant with accessibility laws, standards, and regulations.

  • Instructional websites, on-line learning environments, and educational material not otherwise accessible to students with vision, hearing, or speech disabilities
  • Software which is important to accessing WSU student services and benefits
  • Software or equipment enabling WSU website developers to meet the appropriate Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0, Level AA) Software which is required for multiple employees to perform their duties.
  • Software to provide reasonable accommodations allowing students and others with disabilities equal access to WSU’s benefits and services
  • Leasing/Renting accessible event spaces, equipment, and auxiliary aids

How can I tell if the purchase will be accessible?

Sample language for Speaking with Sales Representatives

Early on with a potential purchase, the departmental or Purchasing Services buyer can request information about the accessibility of a product, program, or service from the sales representative. The following questions are a good place to start:

  • Electronic and information technology purchases:
    • Is the [product] compliant with ADA regulations?
    • Is the [product] compliant with the current Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level AA standards for web and software accessibility? or
      • Is the [product] compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act* (Section 508) regulations?
        *although Section 508 applies to federal departments and agencies, the standards outlined for electronic and information technology are useful in determining whether the product will comply with university regulations and needs.
    • Does the [company] have an accessibility guarantee or provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) that WSU can review?
      • If the VPAT or statement of accessibility has section labeled as “Supports with Exceptions” or “Not supported,” then the product is not fully accessible.
    • If the [product] is not compliant with ADA and Section 508 regulations:
      • Is there a work-around available to users/participants?
      • Will [company] work with WSU to find a creative solution for accessibility?
      • Will [company] ensure that product meets accessibility requirements?
  • Real property, rentals, usage agreements:
    • Does the expected usage of the [property/rental/facility] include use by the public?
    • Will events held at the [property/rental/facility] be accessible?
    • If not, is a work-around available or is the seller willing to make changes to enhance accessibility?
  • Affiliation Agreements (e.g. internship affiliations):
    • Is the location where the student/employee will be located at accessible?
    • Do you provide reasonable accommodations for your services and business necessities for interns with disabilities?  If not, will you allow WSU to modify existing equipment/facility/service agreements to support an intern’s reasonable accommodation? Or, can WSU modify the intern’s service on a case by case basis where a reasonable accommodation is necessary?
  • Events, performances, speakers:
    • Will the event be held in an accessible location?
    • Is closed captioning or a transcript available?
    • Are materials available in alternative formats?
    • Is specific technology needed for event?  If so, is that technology accessible to all speakers and participants?
    • If an accommodation request is received (e.g. a transcript of the performance, preferential seating for visually or hearing impaired participants, materials in an alternative format) within a predetermined time frame, will [company] or WSU provide these services within a reasonable time?
  • Services:
    • Are the services accessible by persons with disabilities?
      • E.g. if the service is only available over the internet, is the website compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or with the Worldwide Web Consortium WCAG 2.0 standards?
      • E.g. if the service is only available over the phone, is the service compliant with Section 255 standards?

Sample Language for Agreements

The following is an example of contract language that may be used. Always consult with your contracting representative or legal counsel for additional advice.

Contract Clause language

[Company] warrants that their [product/service/program] are currently in compliance with Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), and Washington State RCW 49.60. Company agrees that during the term of this agreement the [product/service/program] will remain in compliance with all applicable federal and state disabilities laws and regulations.
WSU may request a timely response, resolution, or remediation to accessibility concerns at no cost to WSU. [Company] agrees to promptly respond to WSU requests and resolve complaints within [XX days / reasonable period of time]. Where the [company] is unable to resolve a WSU accessibility request or complaint within a reasonable period of time, and where WSU provides [company] with 60 days notice, WSU and the [company] agree to cancel the contract and discharge all claims, actions, and costs subsequent to the cancellation date.

Contract Renewals/Renegotiations

If a current contract requires accessibility updates, consider adding an accessibility clause during a renegotiation phase. It may also be helpful, at any time during the life of a contract, to request a timeline for expected accessibility compliance.

External Resources

  • Guide for Purchasing Accessible Technology: This online resource was developed by the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), and includes helpful guidelines on purchasing accessible technology.