Step 4: Evaluating Proposals & VPATs
Once you receive all the responses to your RFP from various vendors, it’s time to review and grade the proposals to select a winning bidder. There are numerous ways to facilitate this process, but most involve assembling an evaluation panel of subject matter experts who are qualified to grade the responses against the RFP’s evaluation criteria. While such panels will be tasked with weighing a number of factors in their evaluations, it is paramount that accessibility be a key consideration when making a procurement award.
PEAT recommends appointing an accessibility subject matter expert to serve on the RFP’s evaluation panel. This person should understand accessibility standards and requirements, and take responsibility for determining the quality of the accessibility-related portions of the RFP responses. They should also check the accessibility of the proposals themselves, which can signal a vendor’s true commitment to the issue.
A key part of the proposal evaluation process will entail reviewing and assessing the responders’ Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACRs), which can often be new territory for procurement personnel who are new to accessibility.
What are VPATs and ACRs?
An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a document you should require vendors to complete during the RFP process for each ICT item. ACRs are created using the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template 2.0 (VPAT), and are used to help contracting officers assess, at least preliminarily, a product’s compliance with the accessibility standards set forth by the organization—typically Section 508 standards (for federal procurements) or WCAG for other procurements. Although they were created for federal government purchasers, they can be useful tools for all companies seeking to purchase accessible technology products and services.
VPAT 2.0 Update
2017 has been an exciting year for VPATs. The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) released the revised VPAT 2.0 in October 2017, which incorporates the refreshed Section 508 ICT accessibility standards and guidelines. These updated standards will go into effect on January 18, 2018.
ITI and the General Services Administration (GSA) are providing many transition resources related to VPAT 2.0 and the Section 508 refresh, which can be found at the links below: