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Accessible Purchasing Process

As per Northwestern’s Digital Accessibility Policy, the accessibility of a product must be considered during the purchasing process. The Accessible Purchasing Process and Matrix document details the steps purchasers must take to determine whether the product they are purchasing is sufficiently accessible and identify any requirements that must be satisfied before proceeding with a purchase. Please refer to the process document above, but at a high level, the steps are:

  1. Part I – Determine a Product’s Expected Usage
  2. Part II – Solicit Accessibility Information from the Vendor
  3. Part III – Use the information from Part I and II to Determine How to Proceed Using the Accessibility Matrix.

Product Usage and Accessibility Questions

We recommend that you refer to the Product Usage and Accessibility Questions  template to understand product usage and ask appropriate questions to the vendor. This will help you get an idea of the product’s usage scope and accessibility as well as the vendor’s approach to accessibility with their products.

Accessibility Matrix

Once you have completed the Product Usage and Accessibility Questions, consult the Purchasing Accessibility Matrix to determine your next steps.

Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan

The University must apply accessibility standards to digital products and services that it buys, creates, uses and maintains.  In accordance with Northwestern’s Digital Accessibility Policy, when units would like to purchase systems, software or applications that do not meet the required accessibility standards, an equally effective alternate access plan must be developed to address the known accessibility issue(s). When needed, please complete the EEAAP template and submit it to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance promptly. For examples of how to complete the EEAAP template,  see a sample EEAAP document here.

Accessible Purchase Process Training

 An in-depth, step-by-step walk through of the accessible purchasing process is available as a self-paced, Canvas training course. This training takes roughly 45 minutes to complete and explains the process, offers case studies and provides resources to help follow the process. Access to the course is available upon request.