Standard Operating Guide for Procuring Accessible Technology for the State of Colorado

Procurement Toolkit


About the Guide

The Technology Accessibility Program (TAP) supports the procurement of accessible information technology under HB21-1110, Colorado Laws for Persons With Disabilities. The State of Colorado shall procure information technology that meets accessibility requirements as specified by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (currently WCAG 2.1 A/AA) per OIT’s accessibility technical standards.

This Standard Operating Guide applies to all solicitations (purchase orders, contracts, p-card purchases, etc.), responses thereto, and contracts for websites, web applications, software systems, electronic documents, e-learning, multimedia, and programmable user interfaces. It covers the technology’s user interface, access and content, but does not cover content that a user may encounter after leaving the covered technology (e.g., links to other web content).

All consolidated State executive branch agencies, excluding the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, are required to go through the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to procure any technology. OIT has incorporated these guidelines and tools into our procurement processes in order to ensure agencies are able to procure the most accessible digital products available.

Process Steps

In order to facilitate the procurement of accessible Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the following steps should be implemented for all products and services that fall within the scope of this guide as described above:

Step 1. Solicit accessibility information

State of Colorado bidders and vendors shall be required to demonstrate that information technology provided to the State of Colorado conforms to or addresses each of the World Wide Web Consortium's current non-draft version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level A/AA success criteria wherever demonstrating such performance is practicable and applicable. Vendors may do so by providing any of the following:

  1. An independent third-party evaluation from an accessibility consultancy. 
  2. A completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) also known as an Accessibility Compliance Report (ACR). If a VPAT is used, it must use the VPAT 2.5 template, which is based on both WCAG 2.1 Level A/AA and WCAG 2.2. The Information Technology Industry Council offers a free VPAT 2.5 WCAG (November 2023) (download). 
    1. Learn more about Understanding an Accessibility Compliance Report (Google Slides).

Step 2. Validate accessibility information received

The agency or government entity, in consultation with its procurement team, accessibility team or other subject matter experts, will attempt to validate the information provided by bidders and vendors, by either:

  • Performing a risk assessment by sending a list of vendor checklist questions to the vendor and then scoring the answers based on low, medium or high risk. You can use the High Level Risk Assessment template  (Google Sheets) provided to input and score the answers.
  • Obtaining additional information from the bidder or vendor to develop a complete and thorough understanding of the accessibility of the product or service;
  • Consulting with independent third parties that have evaluated the product or service for accessibility; or
  • Conducting an internal evaluation of the accessibility of the product or service.

Step 3. Include accessibility assurances in contracts 

Standard boilerplate accessibility language should be included in your ICT contracts for the procurement of websites, web applications, software systems, electronic documents, e-learning, multimedia and programmable user interfaces such as kiosks wherever practicable.

The following contractual language is included in the State of Colorado’s contract templates and all state agencies should use these templates. 

State Contracts Boilerplate Language

A. Accessibility Indemnification
Contractor shall indemnify, save, and hold harmless the Indemnified Parties, against any and all costs, expenses, claims, damages, liabilities, court awards and other amounts (including attorneys’ fees and related costs) incurred by any of the Indemnified Parties in relation to Contractor’s failure to comply with §§24-85-101, et seq., C.R.S., or the Accessibility Standards for Individuals with a Disability as established by OIT pursuant to Section §24-85-103 (2.5), C.R.S.

B. Accessibility
i. Contractor shall comply with and the Work Product provided under this Contract shall be in compliance with all applicable provisions of §§24-85-101, et seq., C.R.S., and the Accessibility Standards for Individuals with a Disability, as established by OIT pursuant to Section §24-85-103 (2.5), C.R.S. Contractor shall also comply with all State of Colorado technology standards related to technology accessibility and with Level AA of the most current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), incorporated in the State of Colorado technology standards.

The State may require Contractor’s compliance to the State’s Accessibility Standards to be determined by a third party selected by the State to attest to Contractor’s Work Product and software is in compliance with §§24-85-101, et seq., C.R.S., and the Accessibility Standards for Individuals with a Disability as established by OIT pursuant to Section §24-85-103 (2.5), C.R.S.


State Agency Planning Resources

IT Accessibility Planning Guide

The IT Accessibility Planning Guide website is made available only to state agencies for the purpose of providing guidance, tools and updates that are relevant only to state agencies and their unique statutory requirements. The Technology Accessibility Program team (TAP) has made every effort to provide similar, relevant resources available to local government entities (see Local Government Resources).

Contact: oit_accessibility@state.co.us

Local Government Planning Resources

Accessibility Planning for Local Government, 2023 (Google Slides)

This presentation is designed to help local government teams understand their responsibilities and provide basic guidance for planning and operationalizing accessibility. Similar guidance can be found on the Accessibility Planning Core Criteria webpage.

  • Colorado Laws for Persons with Disabilities
  • Planning tools and guidance
  • Links to more information and resources

Contact: oit_accessibility@state.co.us