Please note, the Accessibility Toolkit was last updated in 2014. Recommendations included in the Toolkit may not reflect current standards or best practices.

Accessible procurement

What is accessible procurement?

Accessible procurement involves determining what is required for a product or service to be accessible, and either finding ways to procure something that meets those requirements or, documenting why this is not possible and what will be done if an accessible alternative is requested. Drafting a checklist of procurement considerations and using assessment tools such as the ones identified in this toolkit can help staff determine how accessible a product is.

What considerations need to be made when procuring materials for your library?

Communicating the accessibility needs of your institution to vendors can help inform your understanding of whether more accessible formats might be made available to you in the future and whether the vendor you are negotiating with can meet your future needs. If you choose to procure non-accessible formats, it is important to carefully document this decision.

Vendors and the AODA

When negotiating with vendors who are not familiar with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requirements, it is helpful to be as specific as possible with regard to what your requirements are (and your obligations under Section 18 of the IASR). It is important to be able to explain how your institution is expected to comply with these requirements, what measures have already been taken to comply with these requirements as well as what the potential penalties are for non-compliance.

Taking the time to understand the vendors’ point of view on accessibility issues is also important. This information sharing is crucial in keeping your communication channels open and helping vendors understand where and how they can improve their product (if possible) to suit the requirements of your institution.

Incorporating accessibility language into procurement policy will ensure that these practices are observed in the future.

What can you do when accessible procurement is not possible?

Considerations will depend on what your library is looking to procure, however, documenting procurement decisions is important, especially as it relates to accessibility

compliance. This means that your institution is responsible for documenting why an accessible format may not have been an option, and will also help your department with vendor assessment when making future partnership/procurement decisions.

For additional information about accessible procurement, consult the Making your purchases more accessible guide produced by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

What is required if a non-compliant resource must be purchased?

If a product does not meet the AODA standard:

  • Document steps taken to identify alternative
  • Document a plan for obtaining alternative if one is requested

When do vendors have to make their products accessible?

Section 17: Producers of educational or training material of the IASR states that:

  1. Every obligated organization that is a producer of educational or training textbooks for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the textbooks available to the institutions.
  2. Every obligated organization that is a producer of print-basededucational or training supplementary learning resources for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the printed materials available to the institutions.
  3. Obligated organizations to which this section applies shall meet the requirements of this section in accordance with the following schedule:
    1. In respect of accessible or conversion ready versions of textbooks, January 1, 2015.
    2. In respect of accessible or conversion ready versions of printed materials that are educational or training supplementary learning resources, January 1, 2020.

Can vendors be required to take Accessible Customer Service Training?

Under the Customer Service Standard, training must be given to everyone in your organization who deals with members of the public as well as other third parties who act on your behalf. This includes full-time, part-time and contract staff, volunteers and contractors. Therefore, it is up to your organization to decide which suppliers/vendors/key liaison individuals who regularly visit university campuses may be required to take the AODA training. This requirement can be communicated through the supplier assessment form (utilizing the assessment/ranking points system for new suppliers) or when a Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued. The supplier can be asked to demonstrate that they arranged for their employees to undergo customer service training.

For more information, refer to the Sample policy language for accessible customer service training section of this toolkit.