Frequently Asked Questions
The accessibility of electronic and information technology (EIT) to all people, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment. In general, to be accessible, software must follow the four P.O.U.R. principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.
Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) is defined within UC’s EIT Accessibility Policy as: technology resources, software, applications, and services used by the university to make information and content available to faculty, staff, students, prospective students, guests, and visitors. EIT resources include, but are not limited to, the university’s websites, online learning (or eLearning) environment, and course management systems.
As the person requesting the technology to be purchased or renewed, you are responsible for communicating with the person you are purchasing your technology from (vendor) to ensure the product is accessible. The Accessibility Network is available for guidance, resources and trainings.
If you are selecting an EIT product, start by reviewing the EIT Purchases & Accessibility Procedures or follow these basics:
- Make accessibility a part of your selection criteria.
- Follow the accessibility checklist for software/applications to check the product’s basic eAccessibility.
- Ask the vendor about their accessibility commitment or policy. Ask them to provide you with a VPAT and the contact information for the person responsible for accessibility.
- Include accessibility language in your RFP, contracts, etc.
- Request an accessibility review from the Accessibility Network.
- Work with the Accessibility Network and your vendor to build an access plan if the completed review determines there are accessibility barriers within the product.
In non-technical terms: A VPAT is a written document detailing how a product incorporates accessibility standards. The Accessibility Network uses this document as a starting point in assessing the EIT product for accessibility. For further learning, check out this page about VPAT’s.
Download the current VPAT™ template from the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) website.
In technical terms: A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT) is a document voluntarily provided by a vendor. The document includes a table containing information regarding how their information and communications technology product or service conforms with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. It does not confirm or guarantee the accessibility of a product.
The VPAT is a vendor document communicating their product’s conformance to accessibility laws. The Accessibility Network can use this document as a starting point in assessing the technology for accessibility. Having a VPAT on file also provides an accessibility audit trail.
As a public university, we are required to follow Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
When selecting your EIT product or working with your technology vendor, ask them about their accessibility commitment. You can use the following sample email to get started.
As we assess your technology as a solution for the university, we would like to understand your commitment to accessibility. Please provide a copy of your VPAT or ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) to be submitted to our Accessibility Network for review. Be sure to include the contact information of the person responsible for accessibility within your organization. If you don’t currently have a VPAT or ACR, you can download a blank template. Instructions on how to complete the VPAT are included in the download.
The University of Cincinnati is committed to providing an electronic experience that is accessible to all and supports success for every student and employee, especially those with disabilities. The university does this in accordance with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The law (29 U.S.C § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
Once you have a VPAT from your vendor submit a request for an accessibility review from the Accessibility Network.
The Accessibility Network will review your VPAT and do a risk assessment. Based on those outcomes, you will receive a communication with next steps.
The best practice is to submit a request for an Accessibility Review as early as you can during your purchasing journey, such as during the RFP phase. The earlier we can review your product and provide feedback, the less likely there will be surprises or hold-ups in your purchase.
If you are not going through an RFP phase or you are already past your RFP phase, these are other times you could submit a request for an Accessibility Review:
- During your selection process, to help identify best choice
- Before you submit your purchasing request through PACE
- When you are renewing your contract
Typically, no. However, it is the policy of the University of Cincinnati in accordance with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to procure technology that is accessible.
It is best to start this process as early as possible. In situations where deadlines are tight, please communicate this when submitting your request. The Accessibility Network will make every effort to work with you.
If it is determined that a product you have submitted for an accessibility review needs to have a full accessibility test, you will receive a meeting invite for a kick-off call. You may also have been identified as a subject matter expert of a product that needs to have a full accessibility test completed.
During this kick-off call we will:
- Discuss what to expect during the testing
- Define scope and use cases
- Request access to the product
- Ask for a live demo of the product if possible
- Discuss what happens after the testing is complete
For questions regarding accessibility when purchasing/renewing technology, start with your purchasing contact within your college or department. If you need further assistance, please contact the Accessibility Network.