Procurement Guidelines for Accessibility
Tufts University is committed to ensuring information technology accessibility for all individuals with disabilities in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. This procurement protocol will ensure that all information and communication technology (ICT) purchases are evaluated for compliance with accessibility standards prior to purchase.
As per the Tufts Digital Accessibility Policy, this procurement protocol applies to all ICT products or deliverables acquired after the effective date of the policy, including:
- Web-based applications
- Non-web-based software applications
- Third-party web-based content (courses, videos, etc.)
- Mobile apps
Only the following are excluded from accessibility review:
- Single-use, specialized software or productivity tools purchased for a single requestor and not required for use by anyone other than the requestor.
- Content-only such as data sets that are purchased for use in another application.
The process for vetting ICT products for accessibility will be initiated by the requestor:
- An Accessibility Report on Compliance (link) form must be completed by the vendor and submitted along with supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Digital Accessibility Specialist will review the documentation provided by the vendor and make a recommendation regarding the overall accessibility of the product or deliverable.
- Upon review by the Digital Accessibility Specialist a recommendation will be made. Possible outcomes include:
- Recommend approval if sufficient documentation is provided to confirm compliance of the product or deliverable.
- Recommend approval if sufficient documentation is provided to confirm partial compliance AND the vendor has provided a product development roadmap with a reasonable timeframe for reaching compliance.
- Recommend against moving forward if documentation indicates the product is not compliant or is insufficient to determine compliance of the product or deliverable.
- Recommend seeking a policy exception in limited circumstances, as defined in the Policy Exceptions section of this document.
While the University is committed to ensuring equal access to ICT for all students, faculty, staff, and the broader community with disabilities, there are limited circumstances under which an exception may be granted in the event that a product is found not to be in compliance. Note that exceptions are of limited duration and subject to periodic review to determine if more accessible alternative products have become available.
In accordance with the Tufts Digital Accessibility Policy, a policy exception must meet one of the following criteria, as defined by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Revised).
Not Technically Possible
When full compliance with accessibility standards is not technically possible.
- Virtual or augmented reality media for which full compliance is not yet fully supported.
- A live media stream on a social media platform that does not yet support live captions.
When bringing the content, product, or service into compliance would fundamentally alter the program or service.
- A listening comprehension exam for a foreign language class does not provide closed captions because it would fundamentally alter the exam.
Not Commercially Available
An accessible product which meets the business requirements is not commercially available.
- While there are many 3D modeling products on the market, none are fully compliant.
- In order to maintain accreditation a professional school must prepare students to use industry standard software that is not compliant. There is no alternative that meets the curricular need.
When providing an accessible digital product or service would result in an undue financial or administrative burden. Requirements for demonstrating undue burden are taken within the context of the university as a whole, thus making this criterion extremely difficult to meet.
Units seeking an exception to this policy must submit a (insert link to exception form) form to Chris Sedore, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, in consultation with the Office of University Counsel. It should be noted that policy exceptions are unlikely to be given for Learning Management Systems (LMSs) or web technology or software that is used for critical or important transactions (registering for classes, accessing university information on a mobile device.
Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan
In the event of a policy exception, or if an accessibility issue with a product or service is reported by a member of the Tufts community, the internal sponsors or University unit responsible for the product must work with the StAAR Center, their school's Disability Service provider, and/or the Office of Equal Opportunity as appropriate to create an Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan (EEAAP). An EEAAP affords disabled persons an equal opportunity to obtain the same result or to gain the same benefit in a timely and integrated manner that is appropriate to that person's individual needs.