Purchase Approval Process
Posted by Jennifer Otterbein on 16 September 2020 11:10 AM
Here at the university, it is vitally important those with disabilities can use and enjoy the same services and applications as a person without a disability. To aid in that goal, an accessibility coordinator must approve all software purchases and subscriptions. This ensures all those that need it can effectively use incoming software, applications, and services.
This process will change depending on a few factors. The coordinator will consider the number of people using the software, view the software’s output, and assess the business use cases to identify an overall risk level. After submitting your request, the accessibility coordinator will determine if the software or service is considered personal productivity, low risk, or high risk.
Every software purchase will need an Accessibility Purchase Approval Form filled out by the Office of Research Digital Accessibility Coordinator. A blank version of this form is attached to this article.
Personal Productivity Software
Some software is used solely for personal productivity. These types of purchases do not have to undergo some of the more extensive testing others will be subject to. In order to qualify as personal productivity software, however, the software must be limited to personal use. It cannot output any data that is used or viewed by someone else, nor can it be used collaboratively with others. The accessibility coordinator will decide if a given software or service meets this criteria. This determination is not to be made without contacting the accessibility coordinator.
Low Risk Software
Software is considered low risk if it is used by a small amount of people, with any output reaching a limited audience. A quick test will be performed on low risk software by the accessibility coordinator. This will reveal if the software is accessible via keyboard alone. This is generally considered the bare minimum of accessibility requirements as most, if not all, assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only use. The outcome of this test is a rating of ‘Good’, ‘Fair’, or ‘Poor’. If the rating is ‘Good’, the accessibility coordinator will approve the purchase and the eRequest can go ahead. If not, an accommodation-based exception request must be filed and approved by the ADA Coordinator’s Office.
High Risk Software
If the software or service will be used by a large audience, have output that is used or viewed by a wide variety of people, open to the general public, or is course-related, it may be considered high risk in terms of accessibility. High risk software must be thoroughly assessed via a full manual test before it can be approved. This process can be lengthy and expensive, but it is essential in determining if the Office of Research can use this software with confidence its staff and students will be able to use it effectively. Just as we would not approve the purchase of software that is found to have severe security issues, we cannot approve software that those with disabilities cannot use to do their job or to succeed in courses. As with lower risk applications, if the software has no large accessibility problems in the full manual test, the accessibility coordinator will approve the purchase. However, most software will come back with issues because the test is so extensive. At this point, the accessibility coordinator will reach out to collect more information for an accommodation-based exception request. This request will be filed by the coordinator and approved by the ADA Coordinator’s Office.
Accommodation-based Exception Requests
The goal of an exception is to document the process used by the Office of Research to ensure the university provides access, with substantially equivalent ease of use, to digital information and digital services for eligible individuals in a timely manner. The exception request will detail who is the expected audience, the business use cases, and the plan to accommodate those that experience barriers with the software. The request must list a stakeholder or resident expert of the application who will facilitate any questions or accommodations. Once submitted, typical processing time by the ADA Coordinator’s Office is around 10 business days, although this can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the application and/or accommodation plan.
The purchasing approval process does add another step to the access of requested software, but is key in helping support everyone at the university. Any questions can be directed to the Office of Research Accessibility Coordinator at email@example.com. More information can be found in the OSU Digital Accessibility Policy or at the Digital Accessibility Center.