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Request Accessibility Information from Vendors & Contractors

When purchasing software, hardware, electronic content, or support documentation and services (known as information and communication technology, or ICT), clearly state your accessibility requirements up-front, so potential vendors and contractors (offerors) can propose the best solution for your needs. All ICT procured, developed, maintained, or used by Federal agencies must conform to the Revised 508 Standards.

The information you should request from offerors will differ depending on whether the ICT item is Standard or Customized.

  • Standard ICT - Commercial or government off-the-shelf (COTS/GOTS)
  • Customized ICT - Customized or developed based on agency requirements

Process Overview

Follow this process to determine and document requirements and exceptions to the Revised 508 Standards for EACH ICT item:

Step 1: Determine whether the item is Standard or Customized ICT.

Step 2: Identify requirements and exceptions

Step 3: Document requirements and exceptions

Step 4: Explain how offerors should respond

  • Provide written instructions to offerors on how to respond to the requirements you’ve identified
    • Describe any additional items they should include in their report. Consider the acquisition size, complexity, and impact on users with disabilities, when determining which items are needed.
    • Clarify whether any, or all, requirements must be provided in order to be considered for award.

Documentation

Find guidance on required and recommended documentation for both Standard and Customized ICT Items below.

Required for Standard ICT Items

For EACH Standard COTS/GOTS ICT item, REQUIRE the offeror to provide:

  • Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) - A written ACR for each ICT item, based on the product’s Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT™). To be considered for award, the ACR must be complete, and submitted according to the instructions.
  • Supplemental Accessibility Report (SAR) - A written SAR containing:
    • Description of evaluation methods used to produce the ACR, to demonstrate due diligence in supporting conformance claims;
    • Documentation of features that help achieve accessibility and usability for persons with disabilities;
    • Information on core functions that can’t be used by persons with disabilities;
    • Information on how to configure and install the ICT item to support accessibility; and
    • Information on how the ICT item enables the creation of accessible electronic content that conforms to the Revised 508 Standards, including the range of accessible user interface elements the tool can create. (only required for authoring tools that generate content (documents, reports, videos, multimedia, web content, etc.)

Recommended for Standard ICT Items

For EACH Standard COTS/GOTS ICT item, consider requiring the offeror to provide the following info. Note, the information in this section is RECOMMENDED, not required.

  • A demonstration of some or all items in the solicitation that conform to the agency’s accessibility requirements;
  • Remediation plans for features that don’t fully conform to the Revised 508 Standards;
  • Accessibility improvement plans related to the ICT products or services they’re offering;
  • A description of training they can provide to users on the accessibility features of the ICT products and services, as well as any associated training costs not included in the baseline proposal;
  • When an ICT item is an authoring tool(s) that generates content (documents, reports, videos, multimedia, web content, etc.), provide the following:
    • Samples of accessible electronic content produced by the tool(s). Consider requesting samples that include a full range of user interface elements generated by the tool.
    • A demonstration of how the commercially available tool(s) support creating accessible content.
    • Information on the documentation available for authors on how the tool(s) can produce and validate accessible electronic content;
  • State that the agency reserves the right, prior to making an award decision, to perform testing on some or all of the offeror’s proposed ICT items to ensure the accuracy of their response. State that if the agency requests the opportunity to perform hands-on testing, the offeror shall provide the following:
    • Final commercially available release versions in terms of functionality and features.
    • Accessibility Test Plan illustrating ”typical” user scenarios and tasks to ensure fair and accurate testing of offered solutions. This test plan can be used to help the agency perform its testing of the ICT product or service being offered.
  • Consider also stating:
    • Trial versions of ICT products or services won’t be considered for testing purposes, since some features or functionality may not yet be available, and would likely not deliver accurate testing results.
    • Upon award, any ICT product provided for testing by all unsuccessful offerors will be returned at the offeror’s expense. The successful offeror’s ICT product(s) will be kept and accounted for in any resultant order, if applicable. If an order isn’t imminent, the successful offeror’s ICT product shall also be returned, at the offeror’s expense.

If a maximum page count is required for submissions, exclude the accessibility information from the page count limitation, to allow offerors to report complete supporting data.

Required for Customized ICT Items

For EACH Customized ICT item, REQUIRE the offeror to provide:

  • Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) - A written ACR for each ICT item, describing how the item(s) will fully address the accessibility requirements outlined in the solicitation; and
  • A description of the evaluation methods the offeror will use to validate for conformance to the Revised 508 Standards.

Advise offerors that each requirement must be fully addressed in order to be considered for award.

Recommended for Customized ICT Items

For EACH Customized ICT item, consider requiring the offeror to provide the following info. Note, the information in this section is RECOMMENDED, not required.

Developed In-House

Consider requiring the offeror to provide additional information for each ICT item customized or developed in-house:

  • A description of training they can provide on how to use the accessibility features of the ICT product and services, as well as any associated training costs not included in the baseline proposal; and
  • Their approaches to incorporating universal design principles to ensure their ICT products or services are designed to support all users.

Customized COTS/GOTS

If the offeror’s proposed items are substantially comprised of COTS/GOTS ICT products or services that will be configured or modified to meet contract requirements, consider requiring the offeror to provide:

  • Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) - A written ACR for each ICT item, based on the product’s Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT™) for COTS items that will be configured or modified to meet contract requirements. To be considered for award, the ACR must be complete, and submitted according to the instructions.
  • A demonstration of the COTS items that will be configured or modified to meet contract requirements. Request the offeror to demonstrate how they will configure or maintain the solution to ensure support for the agency’s accessibility requirements.
  • When the solicitation requires ICT items that will be used to generate electronic content (documents, reports, videos, multimedia, web content, etc.), and the offeror may use COTS authoring tools as a substantial component in their solution, consider requiring the offeror to provide:
    • Samples of accessible electronic content produced by the authoring tools.
    • A demonstration of how the commercially available authoring tools will enable the creation of accessible content ”out of the box”, including a full range of user interface elements that can be generated by the tool.
  • State that the agency reserves the right to perform testing on COTS items that will be configured or modified to meet contract requirements.
    • Consider requiring the offeror to provide commercially available release versions (full functionality and features).
    • Consider also stating that upon award, any ICT product provided for testing by all will be returned at the offeror’s expense.

If a maximum page count is required for submissions, exclude the accessibility information from the page count limitation to allow offerors to provide complete supporting data.

Related Resources

These best practices were developed by the U.S. Federal Government Revised 508 Standards Transition Workgroup. Members include the U.S. Federal CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice, the U.S. Access Board, and the General Services Administration.

Reviewed/Updated: May 2018