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Ethics, Economics And (In-)Action: Accessibility In Procurement And Use

taught by: Rob Carr

Session Summary

Through case studies and discussion, we will dig into how to manage, advance, or stop conversations about accessibility with current and prospective technology vendors. You will learn or revisit tools and processes that will help your organization to better account for accessibility when you make a purchase or use decision. Finally we will also share some advice to vendors that might want to sell their products to organizations with mature accessibility programs all while considering aspects of the value statements that buying and selling technology can make.


The relationship between accessibility and purchase or use decisions is quite something. Sometimes it is smooth sailing for the purchaser and the vendor. Our experience as a consultant to Oklahoma’s public sector does not lead us to believe that smooth sailing is the norm, though. This session grew out of three simultaneous conversations that we were having with clients, trying to help them to talk about accessibility with current or possible future technology or design vendors.

The session will tackle accessibility in purchasing and use decisions from three different angles.

On one hand we will take a look at some case studies. We will provide the high points and lead a conversation about gaps in the process, things that went well and lessons that we can all take from each one. These are based on real-life experience so they’re not hypothetical situations. They might be a combination of a few different situations, though.

Then we’ll dive into some philosophical and practical thoughts and guidance about how an organization can effectively build accessibility into its purchase and use decision making. Where might you start? What do you need to do? How can you be effective? Those are loaded questions for sure. We’ll talk about some of the tools that you can use and how to use them. We’ll also talk about some of the relationships that you may be able to create to get a better handle on the whole situation. And along the way we’re going to mention some of the elephants in the room. Such as, How do we show enough value in accessibility that our organization moves from knowing and talking to doing accessibility? How do our behaviors as organizations demonstrate our values? These questions become more interesting when we talk about actually buying things.

We’ll end with some bits of advice for vendors that want to sell technology products and services. These nuggets will also be helpful to purchasers. By being part of lots of conversations between purchasers and vendors, we have found some things that vendors can do or have ready that would make it easier for everyone. We will flip the advice for vendors around into some questions that you can consider and ask when you have a conversation as a purchaser.

Practical Skills

  • Examine and discuss at least 3 different case studies to identify lessons learned about accessibility in procurement
  • Discuss at least 8 tips for vendors and questions that purchasers can ask to dig into each one
  • Discuss at least 2 tools and 3 techniques to help your organization better account for accessibility in your procurement process

Presentation Materials