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Software/Hardware Procurement, Distribution, and Licensing

Accessible Product Evaluation Guidelines

Learning technologies should always be evaluated to ensure they are universally accessible. Can everyone who needs to use them do so, or are they inaccessible to some learners or instructors? When the very nature of a technology imposes a barrier to its use, those individuals with certain types of disabilities will not be able to benefit from using it. It can be considered inaccessible along a continuum. What does this mean? 

Technological tools aren’t purely “accessible” or “inaccessible,” but rather, they are accessible or inaccessible by degree, depending on who is able to access and how much they are able to access. As you evaluate accessibility of a product, consider for whom the product may be inaccessible and to what degree this inaccessibility hampers its usefulness. This will inform your purchasing decisions as well as enable you to prepare alternatives for certain learning populations.

In this plan, UT Knoxville’s Office of Innovative Technologies offers a staged process as a comprehensive guide for individuals or units evaluating accessibility of products and proactively preparing to provide equitable alternatives for known accessibility limitations.

Persons Responsible 

Departments and programs purchasing products are responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the products prior to purchasing or licensing. If a product is purchased or licensed that has known accessibility limitations, the said department or program should be prepared with equally effective alternatives for users who would be affected by those accessibility limitations.

Accessible Evaluation Guidelines

The process involves four main stages, as follow.

Select a drop-down menu for sub-steps associated with each step in the process. If you have questions about using this process or the documents therein, please contact the OIT HelpDesk at 865-974-9900 or submit a request online

Gather information. What is available regarding the accessibility of this product?

Analyzing and report information. Is the information to which we have access reliable? Do we need to take action or have the vendor take action to ensure an accurate understanding of potential accessibility limitations of this product?

  • Accessibility Documentation
  • Determine additional necessary steps for Accessibility Performance Report, as needed.
    • Vendor demo (accessibility features)
    • Automated testing (targeted or comprehensive) 
    • Manual testing (targeted or comprehensive)
    • Code review
  • Choose a vendor to conduct testing or push back on product/service vendors to do this.

Report on the Analysis. If reasonably possible, document the findings of the analysis for future reference and utility. 

Develop an Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan (EEAAP). This plan proactively determines how individuals who find the product inaccessible can receive an equitable alternative to access the benefits of the product. 

In some cases, additional steps may be warranted, including ensuring accessibility of authored content and providing access to grievance reporting. Here are some additional resources for those purposes:

  • For authoring tools, use the Accessibility Evaluation and Implementation Tool (AEIT) (resource; Currently available for MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Techsmith Camtasia, Canvas, and WordPress.)
  • It’s best practice to provide an accessibility grievance form and procedure. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility (EOA) has a general accessibility grievance form, or you may make your own. (resource, documentation).