Nonvisual Access Guidance: Regulation .02 Scope (General Exceptions)

(a) Exceptions

Pursuant to State Finance and Procurement Article, §3A-311(b), a unit is permitted to purchase information technology and provide information technology services that are not non-visually accessible if (i) the information technology is not available with nonvisual access because the essential elements of the information technology are visual and nonvisual equivalence cannot be developed; or (ii) the cost of modifying the information technology for compatibility with software and hardware for nonvisual access would increase the price of the procurement by more than 5 percent. However, information technology and information technology services shall be obtained, whenever possible, without modification for compatibility with software and hardware for nonvisual access. (*see Note, below) Pursuant to COMAR 21.05.08.05B, the procurement officer must make a determination if the nonvisual access clause is not required.

The Department of Information Technology recommends that a solicitation obtain two prices from each bidder/offeror in the procurement of information technology or the provision of information technology services if the information technologies being procured are not compliant with the standards adopted in COMAR 14.33.02. The first price would provide the base costs without modification for compatibility with software and hardware for nonvisual access, and the second price would include the costs for modifying the information technologies for compatibility with software and hardware for nonvisual access.

Further, the Department of Information Technology recommends that in instances where the procurement officer determines that an exception condition exists, agencies obtain a written statement from the fulfilling vendor, and retain the statement, that either:

  1. The information technology is not available with nonvisual access because the essential elements of the information technology are visual and nonvisual equivalence cannot be developed; or
  2. The cost of modifying the information technology for compatibility with software and hardware for nonvisual access would increase the price of the procurement by more than 5 percent.
*Note: Md. Ann. Code, State Fin. & Proc. §3A-311(b)(2), providing that subsection (a)(4) is excepted from the circumstances when the nonvisual access clause is not required.

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(b) and (c) Incidental to a Contract

As an example, a firm that produces a report for a State agency under a contract would not have to procure accessible computers and word processing software even if they were used exclusively for the contract. However, compliance would be required if such IT products become State property as contract deliverables where the State agency purchased an IT product to be used by the contractor as part of the project. All IT deliverables must be nonvisually accessible unless an exception applies.

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(d) Installation at State Employee’s Workstation

COMAR 14.33.02 should not be understood to require agencies to install accessibility-related software or an assistive technology device at a State employee’s workstation if the State employee is not an individual with a disability. However, such a condition may arise under application of other law not addressed within the scope of COMAR 14.33.02.

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(e) and (f) Access to the Public

Agencies that provide access to public documents through an existing Internet site or portal may continue to use the existing Internet site and procedures for access if the Internet site is nonvisually accessible. COMAR 14.33.02 should not be understood to:

  1. Require agencies to purchase nonvisually accessible information technologies for access or use by individuals with disabilities at places other than where the information technologies are usually provided to the public;
  2. Provide nonvisually accessible information technologies to the public at places other than where the information technologies are usually provided to the public; or
  3. Waive an obligation of a State agency to provide information or data under other requirements of the law.
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