Accessible ICT Procurement Guide for tertiary education providers
ADCET, the NDCO Program and partners Intopia and the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT ) have produced an implementation guide for universities with practical guidance about procuring ICT products and services with accessibility as an essential criterion.
This project is part of ADCET’s strategic emphasis on digital accessibility with a particular focus on Australian Standard Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services AS EN301549 and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 .
Australia formally adopted AS EN301549 with ratification by Standards Australia in 2016, providing a reference point for federal (and state) governments to work with vendors on a universally accepted standard for accessible procurement (Pycroft, 2017)1.
The Standard includes details about required specifications to support a variety of human variance, including vision, hearing, speech, dexterity, neurological triggers, neurodiversity, cognition, and privacy. The AS EN301549 covers practical elements of procurement for technologies including and beyond the web such as terminals, office equipment, voice and telecommunications, hardware, software, workstation specifications and more (ETSI, 2021)2.
Why are these standards important?
Adopting these standards is one of the levers that may support the Higher Education sector to meet their obligations under the Disability Standards for Education and proactively supports the policy direction provided in Australia's Disability Strategy , Priority 3: Improve pathways and accessibility to further education and training for people with disability (Commonwealth of Australia, 2021)3.
The Guide aims to assist Higher Education providers to embed accessible ICT procurement into their procurement policies, procedures and practice, with a view to building a more accessible future by design.
The implementation guide supports universities towards this by providing:
- templated or exampled accessible procurement policies
- templated or exampled contract clauses for insertion as appropriate to support vendors to meet AS EN 301 549
- practical scenarios and stories of how procuring well has supported success for students and staff
- example testing procedures to evaluate potential purchases against the standards
- guidance relating to existing software and hardware about how and why to enable accessibility features
- guidance about what Universities can do quickly and now, to make fast inroads for current and future students and staff
- information for university staff about how to review Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) and Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACR’s).
The implementation guide is written with a focus on the experiences of students and staff with lived experience of disability. It is also important to note that all users, including the public, who access University materials, locations, and software, will also benefit.
The implementation guide was launched at an official online event on Friday 21 October 2022, and is hosted on the CAUDIT website.
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Commonwealth of Australia. (2021). Australia's Disability Strategy 2021-2023. Canberra: Department of Social Services.
Pycroft, C. (2017). EN 301 549: What it means for Australia. Melbourne: Intopia.
ETSI. (2021). Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services. Brussels: CENELEC.