How to improve accessibility in procurement: free webinar

Many organisations have made a top-level commitment to digital accessibility and are building websites, apps and other digital experiences that meet the needs of all their customers. Group of people smiling and shaking hands

But how many organisations are making sure the goods and services they purchase align with their digital accessibility strategy? 

  • Do you check third-party apps for accessibility before you use them on your website?
  • Did you choose your website agency based on their accessibility knowledge and skills? 
  • Is accessibility a requirement for the internal systems you use for employees? Can every employee access internal learning resources, or claim their expenses? 
  • What does your procurement team think about accessibility compared to requirements such as security or sustainability?

Learn more about procurement and accessibility

This webinar is aimed at:  

  • Accessibility professionals  
  • Procurement professionals and specialists   
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) staff  
  • HR and operations professionals  

In the webinar, attendees:  

  • Learned how accessibility professionals from Google, University of Westminster and Funka are connecting with their procurement teams  
  • Discovered how procurement impacts everyone, including your customers and employees   
  • Got information on how procurement impacts the public sector  
  • Had an opportunity to pose your questions about accessible procurement to the panel  

The webinar recording, slides, and transcript are now available on this page.

How to improve accessibility in procurement - AbilityNet webinar slides via SlideShare

Read our new guide: How to include accessibility in your procurement processes
Our panellists contributed to the guide we published in April 2023, which included information about accessible procurement and guidance on how to choose an accessible supplier.   

Meet the panellists

Liz Heaney, Senior Solutions Consultant - Program Management at GoogleLiz Heaney smiling at the camera

Liz Heaney is the leader of the Core Accessibility Programs team. In this role, she focuses on making Google the best place to work for people with disabilities through collaboration with the product and procurement teams. The scope of this team includes software procured by Google to roll out internally and software produced by the central engineering team.

Prior Google Liz has led a long career in Program Management leading team and other Program Managers in software implementations in many different industries.

Listen to our podcast episode with Liz Heaney 

Liz Heaney, Senior Solutions Consultant - Program Management at Google, joins Mark Walker to discuss her advice and tips for accessible procurement. A snippet of the podcast was aired during the webinar, and the full episode is now available. 

Susanna Laurin, Chief Research and Innovation Officer at FunkaSusanna Laurin smiling at the camera

Susanna Laurin is the Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Funka, a European based market leading consultancy focusing on accessibility. She has been a thought leader in the field of digitalisation, inclusion and e-government for more than 20 years and she is a frequent international lecturer and debater. Susanna is the Chair of the ETSI/CEN/CENELEC Joint Working Group on eAccessibility, responsible for the development and update of the EN301549, to reflect presumed conformance of the Web Accessibility Directive and the upcoming European Accessibility Act.

Susanna is leading strategic assignments and research projects on EU level, nationally and across the world. Recent assignments for the European Commission include the formal review of the Web Accessibility Directive and a study on cognitive accessibility. 

Susanna is a co-founder, Representative to the EU and also Past Honorary Chair of IAAP, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, as well as the Representative to the EU for the UN-initiative G3ict. 

George Rhodes, Digital Accessibility Lead at the University of WestminsterGeorge Rhodes, smiling at the camera

George focuses on improving accessibility across the organisation. He’s worked with procurement colleagues to build high-level needs into the University’s high-level requirements document and make suppliers aware of the legislative need to comply with PSBAR. George is also a maps-obsessed PhD student looking at tactile maps as navigation aids for blind and vision-impaired users.


Q: What kind of follow up is necessary if VPAT errors are found after the purchase?

A: Although I am not an expert in UK legislation, in EU legislation it’s the responsibility of the procurer to make sure the result is accessible (so what the VPAT says isn’t relevant). - Susanna Laurin

A: Ideally you should try and find out about VPAT problems before you sign the contract. If you find thaf issues are present after signing you should be asking about roadmaps to fixes, when these are going to be released and how the supplier is going to mitigate the issues in the meantime. Regs wise it is about showing due diligence and that you have pressured the supplier to make improvements with what tools you have within the contract. - George Rhodes

Q: What are your thoughts on our responsibility to educate the suppliers? I find that often suppliers have limited understanding of accessibility and your questions give them in essence a form of free consultancy on how they can improve their tool.

A: If that happens, public sector bodies are not doing their job! By being firm and clear in the procurement requirements, the public sector is meant to use its purchasing power to force suppliers to learn, thereby driving the market in the right direction. - Susanna Laurin

A: Educate yes, provide free testing no. Tell the supplier they will need to be responsible for their own evidence. If they have to pay for a 3rd party audit, thats on them. Same way they have to pay for cyber essentials themselves or pay their own insurance etc. - George Rhodes 

Q: How can accessible procurement be improved in the financial sector? How is it going today?

A: The financial sector, at least in the EU, is as a whole in a much better place than many other sectors. They have had accessibility requirements for years and the EAA is pushing even more. I wouldn’t worry too much about them – just look at e-commerce and the huge issues they are facing to comply with EAA. - Susanna Laurin

Q: Could you link to annex E of EN301509 that the speakers mentioned?

A: Annex E begins on page 182 - Susanna Laurin

Q: I thought it was mandatory to comply to WCAG 2.1AA for PSBAR. Why make user specific cases if we have a duty to anticipate needs?

A: Whilst this is true for websites and apps, our webinar was looking at the procurement of "anything" and so the scope went beyond purchasing websites and apps. - Susanna Laurin

A: You can tell a lot about an organisation's expertise on accessibility by discussing user cases or testing with real users as well as WCAG tick boxing. It can help weed out people who can talk accessibility but only at a surface level. - George Rhodes

Q: Can you share the link to your questions to ask during the procurement process? 

A: You can access the Procurement Accessibility Guide on the Make Things Accessible Website 

Resources on Accessible Procurement

User testing and Procurement

When you're looking at different suppliers for software, a website, or an application, user testing can help you choose solutions that meet your accessibility and usability needs. 

Learn how to begin your own accessibility testing in our training course or speak to our experts about AbiltyNet’s user research and testing services.

Digital Accessibility Maturity and procurement 

As well as this webinar, and the procurement guide, AbilityNet offers free resources to help you with accessible procurement.

AbilityNet's free Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) helps you understand how well your organisation is doing with digital accessibility. The AbilityNet DAMM identifies procurement as a key aspect to delivering a successful Digital Accessibility Strategy and helps you gauge at what level the organisation is at with procurement, and other dimensions.  

Download your free DAMM toolkit

Useful links

Webinar FAQs

The slidedeck, recording and transcript will be available on this page.

Find out more in our webinars FAQs and sign up to our next free webinar in our AbilityNet Live webinar series.

You can find an archive of our webinars on our website and we also offer paid role-based accessibility training.

Date of webinar: 
27 Jun 2023 - 13:00