Questions to Gain the Right Insights for Accessible Procurement (& How to Pair them with IT Security Risk Assessments)


Presented at 11:30am in Colorado F on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • Kyle Shachmut, Director, Digital Accessibility , Harvard University

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


Higher education accessibility experts from 15 universities synthesized best practices for procurement into a tool already used by hundreds of schools for IT Security vendor risk assessments to streamline processes. Learn about the questions schools are asking technology providers, how to use this free toolkit called the HECVAT, and how purchasers and product developers can work together to streamline information sharing toward digital inclusion.


This session will present the culmination of a nearly two-year collaboration between higher ed IT accessibility advocates and higher ed IT Security professionals and their professional industry association peers through EDUCAUSE. Consensus best practices for evaluating the accessibility of vendor products are now incorporated into the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT), an already widely used tool that previously focused on assessing risk for security compliance. It combines Accessibility and Security review processes to amplify the importance of both and ensure neither slips through the cracks by sharing a data collection and reporting toolkit to streamline the process for schools and vendors alike.

A working group representing fifteen higher education institutions convened and worked to distill a series of 12 questions to ask vendors. The session will walk through the process and discuss the questions, their themes and the rationale behind them. It should be of interest to any institutions who procure technology as well as any businesses who provide technology to purchasers that have accessibility requirements as well as vendors and consultants who help facilitate both sides of these transactions.

In addition to technical reviews of products, topics of organizational effectiveness and using this framework as a catalyst for accessibility professionals to collaborate with other domain experts beyond ourselves (i.e. security, privacy, financial) within higher ed institutions will be discussed. Plenty of opportunity for feedback and discussion will be provided.


  1. Twelve simple questions can reveal a vendor’s ability to provide sustainably accessible electronic materials.
  2. Pairing accessibility & security review strengthens collaboration,accountability and consistency of reporting.
  3. Using the HECVAT format may streamline availability of information for both higher ed institutions & vendors.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Legal, Procurement, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Kyle Shachmut

Kyle Shachmut is the Director of Digital Accessibility at Harvard University, providing strategic direction to digital accessibility efforts across Harvard’s schools. He frequently works at the intersections of information technology, disability inclusion and academic administration. He led creation of Harvard's Digital Accessibility Services team and collaborates with institutional leaders to guide governance of the University's Digital Accessibility Policy. Previously, his focus area included a universal design approach integrating accessibility into at-scale learning experiences through HarvardX—Harvard’s initiative that creates online courses through the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning. Beyond Harvard, Kyle is co-chair of the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility Community Group, the largest affinity group for accessibility professionals in higher education. He has advocated for greater accessibility in community and professional associations for over a decade, advising local state and federal policymakers. In 2021, he received the 'Rising Star Award' among higher ed technology professionals from Educause. Kyle frequently consults speaks and writes about matters related to digital accessibility, public policy, technology in education, universal design and more.