Accessible EIR Procurement and Development

IT reviews electronic and information resources (EIR) for a variety of compliance concerns (e.g. accessibility to all target audiences; information security of data stored, collected, or transferred; privacy of target audiences; compatibility with operating systems and software on target audience devices). The accessibility portion of this website focuses specifically on the requirements for accessibility compliance whether we procure:

  • the use of EIR
  • the maintenance of EIR
  • the development of EIR

This scope includes all EIR used for university business:

  • internal development or maintenance in regard to any EIR
  • EIR used by a small group or single individual
  • EIR that has zero cost ($0)

Vendors have a varying range of experience with accessibility compliance and state and federal laws on accessibility. The EIRAC provides the faculty, staff, and vendors with consultation as needed to assist in processing EIR accessibility as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The following steps are used in the IT accessibility review process:

Step 1: What is being procured?

As the Requester, you inform IT of a request for products and/or services (e.g. software) using the IT-1S form.

It helps IT understand your business case, who the target audience is, and other important criteria to determine the risk for using the products and/or services if they are determined to be non-compliant.

We want you and all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to be able to use the IT we procure, no matter your ability or disability today or tomorrow.

  • Per ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): provide accessible accommodations for all activities, programs and services.
  • Per Texas Administrative Code §206, Texas Administrative Code §213, and Chapter 2054, Subchapter M of the Texas Government Code: procure accessible EIR.

Step 2: Is there proof it is accessible?

As the Requester, you are the best contact to speak with a vendor about their work on digital accessibility. The EIRAC can assist, but as the business partner of the vendor, your voice is recommended. Our federal and state laws provide options for proving accessibility compliance, generally called accessibility documentation:

If no accessibility documentation is provided, we are required to determine their EIR will be non-compliant. Providing accessibility documentation does not mean the EIR will be compliant.

EIR is determined to be:

  1. compliant: This is rare, and even if this is the case, the university will want to make sure the vendor will assist with any ADA accommodations requests.
  2. non-compliant: This is very common, but this determination has the highest liability risks. That means you must build a case to explain why, despite the risks, this EIR is the best choice on the market based on your strategic goals and business requirements. A good business partnership with the vendor will help in the justification process.
  3. exempt or holds an exception from accessibility standards compliance: This could occur because the EIR is specifically assistive technology focused on closing gaps in a certain area of accessibility. This could also occur because the State of Texas may recognize certain types of EIR do not have commercially available assistive technology or accessibility standards in place to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

Step 3: If it is non-compliant, can procuring the EIR be justified?

This is very common right now, given vendors are still learning how to put accessibility standards into their EIR. In fact, if the university reaches out to them with resources and guidance, the vendor may be able to provide a roadmap for compliance improvement.

As the Requester, you can provide any evidence from the vendor to build a case for approving an EIR Accessibility Exception Request.

The EIRAC will assist you with filing the exception request form. Typically, if you've answered every question in the IT-1S form, you will only need to provide additional information on the business case and justifications (e.g. market research, strategic goals met). Otherwise, any of this information should be available in the IT/EIR repository you have access to in order to specifically address updates to your EIR.

Once reviewed, the president or their delegate will approve or reject your request.

Frequently Asked Questions

Depends on how much information you can provide early on in, or before, the procurement process and how well we can communicate the importance of accessibility compliance to your vendor. It can range from a couple days to a couple months.

Some EIR have already been reviewed and can be quickly approved. Some EIR are being triaged due to their lower liability risk, so you can still procure the products and/or services while the backlog of EIR is being reviewed. Higher risk EIR need to be reviewed immediately.

Note that the accessibility review is typically not be the only IT review of your EIR, just one aspect.

Yes. Almost every government agency and university does. Some have stricter procurement policies. However, it is quite common because many vendors are still unaware of accessibility compliance standards when developing their IT, including areas of larger universities and corporations we often procure from. Some issues are technically impossible to resolve at this time, needing more research into solutions that will make them accessible.

The law makes our university accountable and liable in order to spread the word to vendors. The vendor’s technical staff don’t know all the legal requirements when developing and maintaining EIR, so we inform them. When word spreads, more vendors will realize this is a requirement of all government agencies and universities. If we don't provide that message, there may be a major business impact to our partnerships with these vendors in the future, as well as to our university business. Some universities have already been forced to remove inaccessible EIR, which has been detrimental to their services. We want better access for everyone and continued business relationships with our vendors.

We do not want to get to that point. Our desire is to ensure business processes continue and strategic goals are met. However, that may mean looking into other alternatives if this EIR is rejected.

Give yourself enough time to look at other options. Also give enough time to communicate with others that you are switching to another EIR or alternative method. Transitional periods are understood if you have a remediation plan or alternative accommodations plan. IT can help you with this.

Even after a vendor provides the Vendor Accessibility Development Services questionnaire, or when the university develops EIR, accessibility checks are in the project life cycle:

  1. Plan: Determine where digital accessibility compliance will need to be addressed. Is content being created or an interface/layout being adjusted? Note those areas that will need review time.
  2. Design: Some visual or usability aspects of accessibility can be reviewed during the design process, such as color choice, font size/choice, and layout spacing.
  3. Develop: Depending on the product, some interactivity will need to be addressed, such as how a keyboard can access all the options, how a user can tell where they are on an application, or how a user can stop some interactive element from becoming too distracting.
  4. Test: If it is content, many tools already have accessibility checkers to assist you (e.g. Microsoft , Cascade CMS, Adobe Acrobat DC Pro). Some elements of accessibility will need to be manually checked to address basic human understanding (e.g. does the alternative text address the context of the image, does the order of navigation make sense).
  5. Maintain: Regularly check modifications to content or development. Technological advances may make some accessibility standards easier to include, but that typically means adjusting options to set those in motion.

This is a cyclical process until the university is no longer using the EIR.

Note that not all areas or elements may be accessible upon launch of the EIR. Ensure a roadmap is in place to address non-compliant items in the near future. One week after launch? Two weeks? Whatever the plan, the main goal is progress.

Questions or Concerns?

The EIRAC (361-825-3154) can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding the accessibility review portion of procuring or developing EIR.