EIR Accessibility Policy, Chapter 2 - Purchasing and Contracts for ICT

In This Chapter

2.1 Overview

Information and communication technology (ICT) purchased by HHS to be used by an agency or remain the property of an agency at the end of the contract must be accessible.

Note: Accessibility requirements apply regardless of the dollar amount of the procurement or whether the users of the ICT have a known disability.

The Health and Human Services System must purchase accessible information and communications technology (ICT) goods or services that will be used by an agency or remain the property of an agency at the end of a contract. Agencies must develop business processes, contract language and purchasing systems that align with Department of Information Resources rules for the purchase of accessible ICT goods and services in Title 1, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 213External site, including:

  • Detailed compliance exceptions
  • Collection and retention of the vendor’s level of accessibility compliance for purchased goods or services in an agency’s purchasing files
  • A contract clause that ensures vendor compliance with HHS accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 Level AA)
  • A process for managing accessibility exceptions under 1 TAC213.17External site

The availability of fully accessible ICT in the commercial marketplace may be limited for specific types of goods or services. In these situations the procurement goal must be to purchase the most accessible goods or services that meet the agency’s business needs. When evaluating the relative accessibility of two or more ICT goods or services the agency should focus on the accessibility of the most important features of the products to be used by an agency.

2.2 Purchasing ICT

The following are examples of ICT:

  • telephone systems;
  • interactive voice response (IVR) systems;
  • smart phones;
  • tablets;
  • transaction machines;
  • software;
  • websites;
  • web applications;
  • digital documents;
  • copiers and fax machines; and
  • services accessed through ICT.

For a definition of ICT, see Chapter 1, Overview, Section 1.1.3 Information and Communication Technology.

2.2.1 Purchasing Existing ICT

Existing ICT is a product or service that is being procured "as is" without further modification for the agency. Examples:

  • Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS);
  • Development frameworks and code libraries;
  • Data visualization and reporting software;
  • Webinar services;
  • Event registration services;
  • Electronic office equipment; and
  • Telephone systems.

If an agency is purchasing existing ICT, the agency must request accessibility compliance information from the vendor.

Acceptable forms of accessibility compliance information are:

  • A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT®);
  • completed HHS accessibility WCAG 2.0 checklist or equivalent;
  • Results of accessibility testing from an independent third party; or
  • Results of accessibility testing conducted by the vendor.

Accessibility compliance information provided from a prior procurement is acceptable for a subsequent procurement of the same product or service.

An exception must be put in place before a procurement is completed when:

  • Accessibility documentation, such as a VPAT®, is not provided by the vendor, or
  • The accessibility documentation provided by the vendor is incomplete, or
  • The accessibility documentation provided by the vendor indicates that the product is not accessible.

2.2.2 Contracting for ICT Development or Customization Services

If an ICT development or customization services project includes existing software framework or code libraries, then follow the process under Section 2.2.1 for all of those existing components. If any existing component does not meet the accessibility requirements, an exception request for the component must be made to move forward with the project. The project requirements must be updated to include the alternative means of access as defined in the exception request.

The contract must include the requirement that all developed components will meet all WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines.

The vendor is required to provide credible evidence of their qualifications to meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines as specified in 1 TAC213.18(b)(2). This information should include at a minimum the name, qualifications, and experience of their point of contact for accessibility for the project and documentation of the accessibility training completed by the development staff.

The contract for the development or customization services must include requirements for vendor accessibility testing and documentation of those test results using the HHS WCAG 2.0 accessibility checklist or equivalent. This requirement is non-negotiable. The vendor must warrant that the accessibility tests accurately indicate the level of compliance with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. After delivery, the vendor is solely responsible for remediating any accessibility issues not previously reported. An exception must be put in place before a procurement is completed when:

  • Accessibility test results are not provided by the vendor, or
  • The accessibility test results provided by the vendor are incomplete, or
  • The accessibility test results provided by the vendor indicate that the product is not compliant.

2.2.3 Additional Requirements for Development Contracts for Major Information Resource Projects (MIRPs)

Vendor accessibility testing must be validated through:

  • testing by HHS Accessibility SMEs or
  • testing by an independent third party

2.2.4 Contracting for Indirect ICT Services that Will Be Delivered

Indirect ICT services are support features for a contracted service that is not itself ICT. A few examples of purchases or contracted services that include indirect ICT are:

  • Research projects that include a report;
  • Employee wellness services that include self-help materials as electronic files;
  • A conference or other service that includes online registration;
  • Promotional materials and brochures that will be put online;
  • Forms that will be distributed as paper and made available online;
  • Employee training that includes handouts, computer-based training (CBT), or distributed slide decks;
  • Counseling services that include a web-based chatroom;
  • User manuals provided in electronic format; and
  • Any vendor service that includes a survey.

Contracts for services that include or may include the indirect use of ICT must include requirements for vendor compliance with the WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines. The vendor must include as a deliverable within the contract an accessibility compliance report using the HHS WCAG 2.0 checklist or equivalent. If completed in sufficient detail, a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT®) is one acceptable form of an accessibility compliance report.

To meet the WCAG requirements, the vendor may provide electronic materials in multiple formats.

The vendor must warrant that the accessibility tests accurately indicate the level of compliance with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. After delivery, the vendor is solely responsible for remediating any accessibility issues not previously reported.

An exception must be put in place before a procurement is completed when:

  • Accessibility test results are not provided by the vendor, or
  • The accessibility test results provided by the vendor are incomplete, or
  • The accessibility test results provided by the vendor indicate that the product is not compliant.

2.2.5 Incidental Use of ICT

ICT is considered incidental for purposes of a contract when the ICT:

  • will not be used or accessed by employees or members of the public in the performance of the contract—for example, a vendor’s internal email system for use by its employees;
  • will not become the property of the agency; and
  • is used by a contractor’s employees to access or manipulate information that is not used by HHS employees or the public.

Incidental use of ICT is not covered by this policy.

2.2.6 Embedded Technology

Embedded technology is technology whose primary purpose is for the functioning of equipment or software and not primarily for informational purposes.

Examples of embedded technology that are not primarily used for informational purposes are:

  • heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment (such as thermostats and temperature control devices); and
  • medical equipment in which information technology is integral to the operation of the equipment (for example, digital hearing aids and blood pressure monitors).

Embedded technology is not covered by this policy.

2.2.7 Evaluation Team for ICT Purchases

The evaluation team for ICT purchases must include an accessibility subject matter expert.

2.3 Documenting the Purchase Process

The following documentation is required and must be stored along with other required procurement documents:

  • Accessibility documentation provided by the vendor;
  • Accessibility requirements identified for the purchase;
  • Credible evidence of the contractor’s ability to produce an accessible end product. This may include:
    • The vendor’s internal accessibility policy
    • Contractual warrantees for accessibility
    • Accessibility testing documents
    • Examples of prior work results

2.4 Contract Management and Monitoring

Contract management and monitoring must ensure that contract accessibility requirements are satisfied. Examples include:

  • Accessibility test documentation
  • Product warrantees that cover accessibility