In many cases your digital systems may be provided by a 3rd party supplier. When dealing with suppliers you may face a variety of responses to requests for accessibility changes. Often as we have encountered, suppliers will be as new to the accessibility requirements as you are, and may not have the skills or knowledge present to be able to immediately address your concerns.
The first thing to bear in mind is do you have a section in the contract that outlines the suppliers responsibility to deliver an accessible system? If you do then it should be quite clear about the resolutions required in the original contract requirements.
If you do not have something so specific in your contract you will have to work with your suppliers to come to an agreement about how the accessibility changes will be made.
We have found that there is mutual benefit to both you and many of your suppliers in speaking to them about accessibility. Where you interact with suppliers that need to improve on their accessibility knowledge to meet your needs, you can leverage this to the joint benefit of both organisations. By agreeing to work with you in collectively reaching answers to your accessibility questions, your supplier will be upskilling their staff in delivering on a requirement that will from now on be asked of by all other public sector organisations they work with.
Some of the most productive engagements we have had with suppliers is when they have realised that getting a good understanding of accessibility early on will give them a market edge as all public sector organisations will soon be asking for accessible services. By having the skills to deliver on these requirements before their competitors they are improving on the services they can offer to clients.
To help better explain to the suppliers we work with what we are expecting of them when it comes to accessibility and how to meet some of the common problems, we have created an accessible web content guide.
In addition the University of Kent co-authored the Southern University Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) ICT accessibility strategy, establishing a commitment to inclusivity at the first phase of digital procurement contracts: