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

IT software, hardware, and services


This section aims to assist with the procurement of Information Technology (IT) software, hardware, services and self-service kiosks as required by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The biggest challenge with the procurement of IT hardware is that accessible hardware may not yet be available. Procurement of software and services requires the review of existing features and requests for new features to ensure accessibility. This process may require collaboration between the vendor and the purchaser.

What are the AODA requirements with regard to Information Technology (IT)?

The following accessible IT requirements are listed under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR):

For more information, see Making your purchases more accessible guide produced by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO).

What makes these formats accessible?

General guidelines for software

  • Interface accessibility via standard keyboard access methods and screen reader
  • User access to the operating system accessibility tools, without affecting application functionality
  • Compatibility with assistive technologies
  • User-selected system settings for input and output
  • Avoid the use of a pointing device
  • All information is accessible to users with restricted or no vision, restricted or no hearing
  • Screen flash frequency below 2 Hertz
  • Instructions, prompts and outputs written in plain language, and, where possible, supplemented with pictorial information or spoken language
  • Logical tab order for controls, input fields and other objects
  • Instructions for all accessibility features
  • Accessible documentation for training and support materials
  • Availability of a forum or feedback channels
  • Content management systems (CMS) are easy to manage by staff (accessibility fixes)

For additional information please refer to the United States National Center on Disability and Access to Education’s Tips and Tools: Content Management Systems & Accessibility. This checklist is intended to assist in the procurement of content management systems, with considerations developed for non-IT staff. This checklist is a part of the American legislation requirements. It is useful to the Ontario university libraries since it pertains to making information technology more accessible.

General guidelines for hardware

Printers / copiers

  • The controls and keys are tactilely discernible on a touch screen
  • The touch screen can be operated easily with one hand
  • Voice output for a person who is unable to see a visual display
  • Connectors for headsets to enable the user to operate the product in private
  • User can interrupt, pause and restart the audio at any time using a variety of controls such as voice recognition or keyboard
  • Colours depicted for colour choices have audio and visual descriptions
  • Information cannot be conveyed through colour alone (For example, red means stop and green means go)
  • User can manipulate colour and contrast of text and background settings
  • No patterned backgrounds used behind text or important graphics
  • Flashing/blinking can be disabled
  • Accessible auditory and visual alternatives to flashing words
  • Accessible height

Display devices (monitors and digital signage) and e-kiosks

The following information about Public Access Terminals has been borrowed from the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, established by the National Disability Authority of Ireland:

  • Customization: users can adjust the colours and contrast
  • Buttons can be operated by feel with one hand and minimal force
  • Vendor instructions are available in accessible formats and plain language
  • Screen flicker frequency below 2 Hertz
  • Captioning of any audio/video content
  • Height accessibility and easy access to controls
  • All outputs are accessible to users with low or zero vision and hearing
  • If using cards, ensure that the card can be inserted into the card reader in its correct orientation without requiring vision

Electronic readers

Apple’s iPad and iBooks are highly accessible and popular among people with print disabilities.

The E-reader Accessibility website provides a list of suggested system requirements, which have been developed by IT Accessibility at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Their list outlines the minimum, recommended and desirable features for operating e-readerdevices as well as navigating ebooks. Although an American resource, this information is helpful to Ontario librarians in understanding how e-readers can be made more accessible.

LCD projectors and LCD or digital TV information screens

Any analog TV or DTV display or receiver must correctly receive and display closed captions that are transmitted by broadcast television, cable, videotape (for instance, VHS), or DVDs. This means that the product should accurately receive captions (turn on captions and play media known to have captions; verify the captions are available), open or closed caption decoding capabilities should be included in the product, and the product should display captions correctly.

For additional information please refer to the Section 508 Standards Checklists. These checklists are a part of the American legislation requirements but may be helpful to the Ontario university libraries.

What are some limitations that can affect procurement decisions?

  • availability of accessible goods, services or facilities
  • technological compatibility between older products and newer ones being procured

When requested, an organization must provide an explanation as to why it did not incorporate accessibility criteria and features when procuring goods, services, or facilities. The explanation must be provided in an accessible format or with appropriate communications supports, if necessary. For more detailed information about the AODA requirements, please refer to the IASR, Section 12: Accessible Formats and Communications Supports.

Accessibility language for procurement

The Ontario Public Service (OPS) Diversity Office has prepared the Accessibility Language for Procurement Agreements [PDF] document to support ministries in the development of procurement contracts, agreements and proposals to ensure accessibility and diversity considerations and requirements are embedded into the process. The suggested language incorporates actual excerpts from approved Request for Proposals (RFPs) that have been released to the public. Please use your judgment when applying or adapting the language to your specific procurement agreement/contract/proposal and ensure that current procurement processes and policies are followed.