Frequently Asked Questions Related to Purchasing

The following are questions have been asked related to the implementation of the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act.

General Questions

FAQ 1: Are vendors required to comply with IITAA requirements?
Vendors with existing products that are being used to respond to an RFPs should include applicable IITAA compliance templates to provide information on the IITAA compliance as part of the evaluation of the product for purchase and the complinace template maybe required, if specified in the RFP. Products that do not meet IITAA requirements will still be considered if other products that meet minimal functional requirements of the RFP also do not meet the IITAA requiremnets.
Vendors creating new or making substantial modifications to web sites and software systems with user interfaces must comply with IITAA requirements as part of the fulling the requirements of the contract.
FAQ 2: Are vendors required to include IITAA compliance templates with their proposals?
It is useful for people making purchasing decisions to have vendor provided IITAA compliance information. IITAA does not require vendors to include IITAA compliance templates as a part of proposals, but individual RFPs can make this requirement. Vendors can voluntarily include IITAA compliance templates as part of this proposal to help people making purchasing decisions evaluate their proposals.
FAQ 3: Are vendors developing web sites or software applications required to include IITAA compliance templates to demonstrate fullfillment contract requirements?
The verfication of compliance is useful to people processing payment requests and for companies to document their compliance to IITAA requirements. The contract will state whether a compliance template will be required for remibursement of services.
FAQ 4: What if vendors will not respond to RFPs because of the accessibility requirements?
Vendors should be encouraged to apply even if they do not meet all of the requirements of IITAA. Vendors should be encouraged to fill out compliance templates to highlight where their products do comply with IITAA, features that could comply with minor modifications and features that could only comply with extensive modifications. Since IITAA is a relatively new requirement many vendors may not be aware of the requirements or may not have integrated all the requirements into their products. Vendors who may only partially satisfy the requirements may still find that they have more accessibility features than similar products and therefore will have a competitive advantage over other products. It is important to point out to vendors that if they bring their products into compliance they will have a competitive advantage.
FAQ 5: Can an product be purchased if it does not comply with IITAA accessibility requirements?
Commercial off the shelf or existing software and web application products can be purchased even if they do not comply with IITAA accessibility requirements, as long as other products that comply or have a higher level of compliance with IITAA requirements are not available at the time of purchase. All RFP and contracts need to include the statement that IITAA compliance is an important feature that will be used in evaluation of products and more accessible products will be purchased if all other features are equal.
NOTE: Contracts for the design or significant redesign of web and software resources must comply with IITAA requirements, the act specifically states that all new designs or extensive updates to web and software resources must comply with IITAA requirements. It is not difficult or costly to implement IITAA requirements at design time, and can even save money in the long run using best practices based on web standards. But it is critical that vendors build in IITAA compliance during the design stage and not wait until a web site or software program is almost complete before considering accessibility.
FAQ 6: What if the more accessible product costs significantly more than the less accessible or inaccessible product?
There is no specific cost consideration for compliance with IITAA, but there is an undue burden clause stating that if accessible products are not available or the cost of the accessible product exceeds the resources available than less accessible products can be purchased. It is important to note that the purpose of IITAA is not to stop the use of information technologies or new technologies that improve services or productivity, but to insure that products that are purchased are accessible as possible and to support the civil rights of people with disabilities to have access to products and services available from state agencies.
FAQ 7: What if the more accessible product has less features as defined in the RFP?
A product that meets IITAA requirements and meets the minimum required functional features of the RFP or contract should be purchased over less accessible products. Products that do not meet the minimum functional requirements of the specification do not have to be considered, even if they do meet IITAA accessibility requirements.
FAQ 8: What if a product does not have a user interface?
Information technologies that are not designed to be directly used by people, like a hard disk, server, cabling, and other IT related supplies do not need to be reviewed for IITAA compliance. The requirement statement does not need to be included in the RFP or contract.
FAQ 9: What if a vendor does not provide any information about the accessibility of their product?
If a vendor does not provide any information on product compliance with IITAA it should be assumed the vendor does not understand the IITAA requirements and that their product or services do not comply with IITAA accessibility requirements for purposes of product comparison. All vendors should be encouraged to submit information on IITAA compliance, even if they do not meet all of the accessibility requirements. State agencies and higher educational institutions should require the submission of compliance templates as part of the proposal submission process.
FAQ 10: Can I ask vendors to demonstrate the accessibility features of their products?
Asking vendors to demonstrate the accessibility features of their products and how they comply with the IITAA is probably the best way to understand how much vendors understand accessible design and the amount of thought and effort they have committed to meeting IITAA requirements. A part of all vendor demonstrations should include highlighting the accessibility features of the product in relation to IITAA compliance.
FAQ 11: How can I involve people with disabilities in evaluating products for accessibility features?
Including people with disabilities in product purchasing decisions is an excellent way to highlight the need for accessible design to vendors. If vendors know people with disabilities will be reviewing their product they are more likely to check there product for accessibility features. People with disabilities can be recruited from disability service offices and campus committees that advise administrators on disability access and equal opportunity issues.
Evaluation by people with disabilities is a great way to test the functional accessibility of products for a true comparison of how usable a product will be to people with disabilities.
It is not possible for all products to be tested by people with disabilities or all types of disabilities to test every product before purchasing, but products that impact the general public or are intended for use by all employees or students should try to include at least some testing by employees or students with disabilities. This is an important way for vendors to understand how usable there product is to people with disabilities and can be an important way for vendors to learn about functional accessibility issues.
Note: People with disabilities skills in using computer technology and assistive technology can vary widely, be sure to use people with disabilities who are proficient in their use of assistive technologies and have some understanding of the requirements of IITAA, some highly proficient assistive technology users may miss basic accessibility requirements since they can work around the issues and non-proficient users may have problems using the product, not because the product does not meet IITAA requirements, but because the user does not understand how to use computing technology.
FAQ 12: What if the product is found not to meet the vendor's claims of accessibility?
Many times accessibility problems are found with products that claim to comply with IITAA standards only after the product has been purchased when a person with a disability starts using the product discovers the problem. Since the vendor claimed IITAA compliance or compliance in the area that the problem was discovered the first step should be to make the vendor aware of the accessibility problem and request that the vendor fix the problem at no additional cost. This may require an explicit clause in the contract and the requirement of the vendor to include a compliance template as a part of their bid will provide more detailed information about the accessibility claimed by the vendor.

Purchasing Agent Questions

FAQ 13: When should a IITAA requirements become part of the RFP specification?
A VPAT should be required when it is known that the product will be used by someone with a disability or when there is a high probably that a person with a disability will be using the product. Example include and are not limited to enterprise wide systems for personnel systems, student financial aid systems, course management systems and web based mail systems.
FAQ 14: When should the accessibility claims of a vendor be verified?
A VPAT should be verified when it is known that the product will be used by someone with a disability or when there is a high probably that a person with a disability will be using the product.
FAQ 15: Who is responsible for verifying accessibility claims?
The people who actually purchase the product are responsible for verification of compliance with the IITAA. Purchasing agents responsibility is to make sure the people making the decision are informed of their responsibilities.