Acquisition: Ensuring Accessibility

​The acquisition of electronic and Information technology (EIT) products and services is an area where the appropriate focus on Section 508 can make a critical difference in ensuring that EIT products and services used by NIH are fully conformant and accessible.

NIH EIT acquisitions subject to Section 508 need to be appropriately tested and verified. Testing should be completed and documented by the vendor and then verified by the government purchaser that the product meets all applicable Section 508 standards which were identified by the NIH during the acquisition process before acceptance by the government.

There are several on-line websites and other resources that can provide government acquisition staff and others who are involved with purchasing EIT with information and tools to guide them on the specific Section 508 requirements. These resources are provided below in two groups: Contracts and Purchasing; however, it should be noted that some resources are applicable to both groups:

Resources for Contracts Staff

  • NIH Section 508 Accessibility Training - NIH offers some training for NIH staff involved in the acquisition of Section 508 products or services. Check for available courses and schedules on the NIH Center for Information Technology Computer Training Center website under ‘Section 508 Accessibility Training.’ A more comprehensive listing of available Section 508 training may also be accessed on our Section 508 Training page.

  • EIT Standards and Section 508 Compliance – NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) – summary of Section 508 standards with a focus on indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts. This site also includes sample statements that can be used by federal staff when developing a Statement of Work or by contractors when developing a proposal to provide EIT products or services.

  • HHS Interim Guidance – HHS-issued interim regulatory (HHSAR) guidance to address the following for Section 508 acquisitions: (1) ensures clear definition of accessibility; (2) establish a technical evaluation factor to address Section 508 and (3) updates solicitation provision and contract clause language.

  • Acquisition of Information Technology - HHS Acquisition Regulations.

  • Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT) - a template that can be used to provide the vendor with the Section 508 technical provisions that apply to a specific solicitation. The GPAT is produced from information about the potential purchase. There is also the ‘Voluntary Product Accessibility Template’ (VPAT), provided by vendors, which state the accessibility features of the vendor’s product.

  • HHS Section 508 Applicable Provisions Technical Evaluations (V 1.0)
    (Word - 31.5KB). This supports consideration of how to construct a solicitation evaluation methodology is offered with the understanding that the technical evaluation of a procurement process must always be customized to suit the conditions of each procurement action. This section specifically relates to other than indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts.

  • HHS Section 508 Standards Evaluation Spreadsheet (Excel - 49.1KB).
    In order to help simplify the technical evaluation requirement, the attached “HHS Section 508 Standards Evaluation Spreadsheet” may offer assistance. It may be used or the solicitation may request that it be completed by the offeror as part of the proposal.

  • HHS Annual Report: In order to evaluate the ongoing Section 508-conformance of EIT products and services, a technical specialist for the manufacturer, developer, or vendor of the EIT Item(s) should complete the Section 508 Annual Report Vendors and return it to the contracting official.

Resources for Purchasers

  • - This General Services Administration (FSA) website is a comprehensive resource that provides information to help determine if a purchase is subject to Section 508; information on buying EIT products and services and completing market research; sample Section 508 contract language for a solicitation; and many other useful resources for the acquisition community.

  • HHS Product Assessment Template – The HHS version of the ‘Voluntary Product Assessment Template’ (VPAT) that is completed by vendors, which documents the accessibility features of the vendor’s product.

  • HHS EIT Undue Burden Exception Determination & Certification (V 1.0) (Word - 30.7KB). The process that can be used if an agency determines that compliance with section 508 provisions would create an undue burden on the agency. The Requiring Official must explain below why, and to what extent, compliance with any provision of 36 CFR Part 1194 (see Addendum of Commercial Non-availability Form) creates an undue burden. A thorough, rational explanation is required by the HHS Policy for Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology (EIT).

  • User Acceptance Checklists: The following checklists should be used agency-wide by staff to verify that Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Products and Services being procured as deliverables meet the requirements established under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. As always, consult your IC Section 508 Coordinator for assistance. Once accepted on behalf of the NIH as Section 508-conformant, the User Acceptance Checklist should be kept with other procurement documentation or files.

    The checklists include questions to ensure compliance with Section 508, in addition to other HHS requirements. For guidance specific to a requirement, refer to the “Requirement Guidelines” section of each checklist or the U.S. Access Board Guide to the Standards or contact your IC’s Section 508 Coordinator.

    Note that Subpart C - 1194.31 Functional Performance Criteria and Subpart D - 1194.41 Information, Documentation, and Support always apply.

Note: The PDF format is for printing.The Word format is made available so you can fill it in electronically.