How to Procure Accessible Tech to Support Your Agency’s Digital Communication

At this point, it’s old news: many of us are working remotely. Employees have experienced echoes, bandwidth issues, barking dogs, accidental cameos from a loved one. They’ve persevered, and have now moved into the next phase of teleworking to hone their skills—reading “how-tos” and taking the time to ensure their digital communication is accessible.

But let’s take a step back. One in four U.S. adults live with a disability, and employers are required to provide equal and effective access to information and communication technology (ICT). So, what do employers and their procurement staff do if they need to purchase accessible technology tools to support remote work and digital communication? How do they know they are procuring accessible technology that can be used effectively from employees’ homes?

Employers and purchasing staff can start by following these guidelines for buying platforms that support accessible digital communication:

  1. When creating a procurement strategy to support telework, incorporate accessibility into the plan for purchasing information and communication technology (ICT).
  2. Research the technology before purchasing it to ensure it’s accessible, evaluating the accessibility features that are included and the customer support the tech provider offers.
  3. Ask questions such as:
    • Does this technology fit the needs of all teleworkers?
    • Will all employees, including those with disabilities, be able to use the new technology effectively from their homes?
    • What equipment and remote IT support will employees need to set up and learn how to use the new technology?
    • Can this technology be used when employees head back into the office?
  4. Once a decision is made and a new technology is adopted, train staff on the basics of digital accessibility and the accessibility features specific to the adopted technology. If you’re purchasing or upgrading a platform for hosting virtual presentations, share this resource: “7 Steps to Make Your Virtual Presentations Accessible.”
  5. Refer to the strategies outlined in the Buy IT! Guide from the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) to make sure you are adopting teleworking technology that adheres to best practices for accessibility.
  6. Review these resources to help guide you through the process:

Stay healthy!

Devin Boyle is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is Senior Consultant at Wheelhouse Group supporting the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) as Emerging Technology Lead and acting as Adviser to XR Access. An experienced communicator and avid writer, she has authored articles for national, local, and trade publications to advocate for societal change and social inclusion for vulnerable populations. She believes in the benefits of preparation before execution and the personal and professional power of Mindful Self-Compassion practice. She lives with her partner, dog, and one-eyed cat in Arlington, VA. You can follow her on Twitter and read her posts here

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Stephanie Smith

Be honest with you that I am not expert on technology … I am still learning how to access into this program. I need to hang there until I become more confident in it.

Erik Lenderman

This is a great article on the subject of Federal procurement and digital communication platforms. The private sector has historically led the public sector when developing and implementing new technologies. That is why we have seen many revisions to how the government procures these capabilities.

Thank you!