The first step is to work with DPRC and/or Procurement office to determine if the product or service you wish to purchase is of high impact to the campus community. If the product is of a high impact, it will require a Section 508 compliance review. Medium impact products are reviewd at the discretion of DPRC and Procurement office.
The broad categories of Section 508 are as follows:
- Software or Operating System
- Website or Web Application
- Telecommunication product
- Standard Video or Multimedia product
- Self-contained/closed product
- Desktop or portable computer
Detailed information for each of the above standards is available at the Section 508 standards page.
When researching or evaluating potential products for purchase, be proactive and ask the vendor about accessibility of their products and Section 508 compliance. You should ask for a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template), which is a self-assessment by the vendor that reflects their compliance with Section 508 standards. If the vendor does not know what a VPAT is or needs assistance in filling one out, you many use our VPAT Request Template. You may also contact DPRC for assistance. Obtaining a VPAT ahead of time is important because it will save you time in the procurement process.
Once you have a VPAT obtained from the vendor, you will need to review the VPAT in order to determine the product's levels of accessibility. You may review the VPAT yourself or the DPRC can assist you in this regard. A VPAT analysis is very important because it is a vendor-produced document, and not all vendors are transparent or fully understand what to include in their VPATs.
If the Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) product is going to have a high impact or affect a large number of the campus community (e.g. email system, campus wide survey tool, etc.) the DPRC will need to conduct in-depth accessibility testing in order to validate the VPAT. The DPRC will provide an accessibility report to you and the vendor once the testing is completed. When possible, it is a good idea to have more than one product option available, so that we may assess and recommend the most accessible option.
Regardless of whether you involve the DPRC or Procurement in the previous steps, you will need to submit a Section 508 requisition form to the Procurement office before the purchase can be processed. If you need assistance in filling out the Section 508 requisition form, the DPRC is available to help.
In the case that your desired product is not fully accessible, or is in the process of being updated for accessibility compliance by the vendor, an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP) will need to be created. This ensures that an alternate method of access is available to members of the campus community who cannot use the inaccessible product. An EEAAP is created in consultation with the DPRC and will require the signatures of the requesting Department Head and the Director of the DPRC. If your desired product is updated and becomes compliant by the date identified on the EEAAP, DPRC will update the EEAAP to reflect the changes.
In certain situations, exemptions from Section 508 standards may be authorized by the campus Section 508 Compliance Officer. Exemptions are approved based on appropriate research, accessibility testing and evaluation, documentation and review.
The categories of Section 508 exemptions are:
- Net Cost Increase: Procurement of accessible E&IT product will increase the cost to the Campus.
- Commercial Non Availability: At present date, an accessible E&IT product is not commercially available.
- Sole Brand: Only one product meets the functional specification required.
- Back Office: Restricted or, no human interaction, limited to mechanical or periodic operational maintenance.
- Fundamental Alteration: Accessibility features fundamentally change the characteristics of the product
For more information on exemptions, please visit the Exemptions page.
For products that were initially not accessible, another accessibility analysis will be required before the product can be renewed.