Step 7: Managing Performance & Relationships
So what happens after you accept and implement your technology product? Quite a bit! When it comes to accessibility, regular communication with your IT vendor continues after the delivery of your new product. By developing a collaborative relationship with the technology providers in your circle, you can foster a two-way channel of communication and a commitment to ensuring accessibility over the long term. Experienced technology providers can have a lot to teach you about accessibility, while informed, smart questions from you can help vendors identify ways to make their products better and more accessible.
Best practices for managing vendor performance and relationships in the post-procurement phase:
Regular Accessibility Audits
Conduct periodic accessibility audits of the product you purchased, and talk to the vendor about the results.
Request Work-around Recommendations
Share any accessibility issues your users might be having with the product, and ask if the vendor can recommend any work-arounds (i.e., temporary solutions to any minor, unexpected accessibility barriers in their product).
Ask About Admin Settings
Request ongoing IT management details from the vendor. Some products require certain administrative settings or add-ons in order for the accessibility features to be activated. These are not always fully documented in an administrative manual, so be sure to ask the vendor about these possibilities.
Get Help Desk Data and Tips
Ask the vendor how other customers are offering help desk and related support to their users with disabilities, and whether they have any insights to offer your own internal help desk.
Ask for Updates on Future Improvements
Ask the vendor what accessibility improvements will be found in the next release of their product (Note: This typically applies to software products). This can also be the subject of a purchasing negotiation—a schedule of committed accessibility improvements known as a remediation plan.
Remember—every time vendors hear from customers like you, they gain more intelligence about market needs, and evidence to share with management about the impact of their accessibility work. More importantly, such practices help you build positive, collaborative relationships with your vendors that help ensure the ongoing accessibility of your workplace technologies.