Commissioning accessible vendor-supplied resources instruction

Instruction statement

To ensure that web resources and authoring tools supplied by external parties for RMIT University meet the University’s accessible design standards.


This instruction does not apply to:

  • websites that have no relationship to RMIT (for example, personal or private sites)
  • web authoring tools not provided or supported by the University
  • student work used for an online showcase
  • academic research or experimental works not used for official purposes by the University
  • courseware that cannot be reasonably supplied in accessible formats, such as simulation tools. In this case the educational designer and academic coordinate alternatives with the Disability Liaison Unit as required.

Instruction steps and actions

Instruction (including key points)


RMIT University has a legal and moral obligation to make its web and multimedia resources accessible to people with disabilities. To meet this requirement, we have processes in place to ensure that web content, web applications and authoring tools we purchase, license or commission from external vendors meet our web accessibility standards.

Refer to the Web Accessibility Auditing Instruction for RMIT’s web accessibility conformance targets.

  • Project Managers
  • Technical Owners
  • Purchasers
  • Financial Services, Strategic Sourcing and Procurement
  • Technical and Selection panel members for RMIT Tenders
  • Any other person involved in commissioning web content, web systems, web applications or authoring tools for official use within the university.

Purchasing web content and web applications

Follow this process when:

  • Inviting tenders for, or commissioning the design or development of web content and web applications
  • Selecting a supplier
  • Signing contracts with suppliers
  • Signing off on deliverables

1. Incorporate RMIT’s web accessibility standards into your documentation when formulating requirements (template available in editable format). Provide a copy of these standards to prospective suppliers.

2. Ask prospective suppliers to:

    • Provide a list of systems or websites that they have developed. Use the Web Accessibility Evaluation Instruction to evaluate a selection of these resources to help choose a supplier with demonstrated accessible design skills and understanding.
    • Outline the credentials of any accessibility specialists in their team. Use this information to help choose a supplier with a suitably skilled team.

3. When drafting contracts:

    • Ensure that accessibility compliance of the final design is a condition.
    • Clarify that it is the supplier’s responsibility to meet this condition and remedy all accessibility violations.
    • Include a requirement for the supplier to provide early prototypes (e.g. templates for each type of page/screen to be developed) of the design work so that they can be evaluated for compliance with accessible design requirements.

4. Using the Web Accessibility Evaluation Instruction:

    • Conduct preliminary reviews of early prototypes of the chosen supplier’s work and advise the supplier of any concerns.
    • Complete a full compliance audit of the deliverables and ensure that all accessibility requirements have been met. If they have not, advise the supplier of the changes needed.

Purchasing web authoring tools

Follow this process when:

  • Purchasing or licensing web authoring tools
  • Renewing licenses or purchasing upgrades to existing web authoring tools

New purchases

1. Incorporate the required accessibility standards into requirements documentation (template available in editable format)

    • Ask the vendor to complete the Authoring Tool Accessibility Checklist.

2. When evaluating competing web authoring tools, ensure that the University’s minimum accessibility standard has been met:

    • Where a tool offers higher compliance with accessible design standards, and it meets all other requirements, it should be purchased in preference to other tools
    • If there is no tool that meets the minimum accessibility standard, the University should consider:
      • Customising an available tool to make it accessible (e.g. by having access to the source code), or
      • Developing the tool in-house or in collaboration with others.
      • If it is not possible to source, customise or develop an accessible tool, the vendor of the most suitable tool should be advised of the University’s commitment to accessibility and the re-evaluation process prior to license renewal.

Renewals or upgrades

Where an existing web authoring tool does not comply with the University’s minimum standards, contact the vendor prior to renewing the license or purchasing an upgrade and ask them to complete the Authoring Tool Accessibility Checklist.

Where the tool still falls below the University’s minimum accessibility standard, ask the vendor to outline their plans for improving accessibility of the product using the Statement of plans for improving accessibility template.

If the vendor’s plans for improvement are unacceptable, consider an alternative tool or consider developing the tool in-house or in collaboration with others.

[Next: Supporting documents and information]