Consider accessibility when procuring

5.CliffsOfMoherChangingClimateInteractiveExhibitSection 27 of the Disability Act 2005 requires the head of a public body to ensure that services provided and goods supplied to the public body are accessible to people with disabilities, unless that would not be practicable, would be too expensive, or would cause an unreasonable delay. Here is the text of Section 27:

  1. Where a service is provided to a public body, the head of the body shall ensure that the service is accessible to persons with disabilities.
  2. Subsection (1) shall not apply if the provision of access by persons with disabilities to any services provided to the body—
    1. would not be practicable,
    2. Would not be justified having regard to the cost of doing so, or
    3. Would cause unreasonable delay in making the goods or services available to other persons.
  3. In this section references to the provision of services include references to the supply of goods.
  4. This section shall come into operation on 31 December 2005.

Here are some steps to help you to conform to Section 27 of the Disability Act 2005:

  • Make sure that you always consider accessibility when procuring services and goods
  • Identify the needs of customers with disabilities
  • State accessibility as a requirement in your requests for tenders. Identify the accessibility standards and guidelines that apply to the product or service that you’re procuring. If you don’t know what those standards or guidelines are, you can find out by asking:
    • experts in your organisation, if possible
    • Disability groups
    • Experts outside your organisation
  • Make sure that your suppliers conform to the accessibility standards and guidelines that you specified.
  • Verify the references that the tenderers give you.
  • Make sure that any maintenance work on the product or service will not make it inaccessible.
  • At regular intervals, check the products and services that you procure, to make sure that customers with disabilities can access them. Improve their accessibility where necessary. Review your procurement process regularly, to see how to improve it.

The NDA’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has an IT Procurement Toolkit for organisations who wish to buy accessible hardware or software.

Tips for considering accessibility when procuring
  • Make sure that all staff who procure are aware of Section 27 of the Disability Act 2005.
  • State accessibility as a requirement in your requests for tenders.
  • Identify the accessibility standards and guidelines that apply to the product or service that you’re procuring.
  • Make sure that your suppliers conform to the accessibility standards and guidelines that you specified.