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Public procurement
Introduction to public procurement

Introduction to public procurement

Edited by Cynthia D. Waddell, Juris Doctor, International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI)

Public procurement generally concerns the purchase of goods and services from private sector contractors and vendors in a transparent and competitive bidding process. The use of public procurement policies as a social justice vehicle is a modern development in government contract agreements. Governments have used public procurement policies to achieve socio-economic or political goals in at least five ways: 

  • To stimulate national economic activity;

  • To protect against foreign competition;

  • To improve competition in certain economic sectors;

  • To drive innovation in a particular area of technology

  • To remedy regional disparities; and

  • To achieve specific social policy goals [1].

The focus of this chapter is on the last goal where public procurement is used to advance equality and non-discrimination for persons with disabilities. Government can be seen both as a 1) purchaser of information and communication technology (ICT) and as a 2) regulator in using the “power of the purse” to advance equality. This chapter also discusses how the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Universal Design mandate can impact ICT procurement and the development of technical standards for accessible design of ICT products and services.

Section 2 reviews the rationale for public procurement policies that incorporate ICT accessibility mandates.  Section 3 briefly discusses critical issues in creating effective procurement policies and Section 4 takes a look at case studies. 

[1] See McCrudden, Christopher.  Buying Social Justice. Oxford University Press: New York, 2007, p. 25. 


Reading Material
1. Waddell, Cynthia D. “Meeting Information and Communications Technology Access and Service Needs for Persons with Disabilities:  Major Issues for Development and Implementation of Successful Policies and Strategies,” Background Paper, ITU Regional Workshop on ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities for the Africa Region, June 2008 (English and French)



2. Follow the European Commission Mandate 376 for the European Accessibility Requirements for the Procurement of Products and Services in the ICT Domain at and at; See Phase 1 ETSI and CEN reports;

ETSI TR 102 612 V1.1.1 (2009-03) Technical Report; European accessibility requirements for public procurement in the ICT domain (includes Australia, Canada, Japan, USA) at ; Phase 2 preparation is underway as of June 2009

3. “Measuring Progress of eAccessibility in Europe: Assessment of the Status of eAccessibility in Europe” (includes country reports on procurement of accessible ICTs” October 2007 with 2008 Update at (Referred to as MeAC Report)

4. "e-Accessibility Toolkit for Policy Makers, Online toolkit on e-Accessibility & Service Needs for Persons with Disabilities," a Joint ITU/G3ict Initiative, follow at

5. McCrudden, Christopher. Buying Social Justice. Oxford University Press: New York, 2007

6. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, sixty-first session, resolution A/RES/61/106 of 6 December 2006 at with National Translations

7. Handbook for Parliamentarians on the Convention: From Exclusion to Equality:  Realizing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, online at

8. JTC1 Special Working Group on Accessibility –

9. Accessible Procurement Toolkit for Canada at

10. IT Procurement Toolkit for Ireland at

11. Buy Accessible Data Center and Training Resources for USA on accessible ICT procurement under the USA Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards at

12. U.S. Access Board, Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, 36 CFR Part 1194, at

13. Spanish, Japanese, Digital Talking Book and Braille translations at

14. USA Section 508 website for technical assistance by General Services Administration at

15. State of Connecticut, USA, accessible web training requirement for vendors at

16. Australia - Disability Discrimination Act of 1992,‎ and World Wide Web Advisory Notes at

17. Japan, Japanese Industrial Standards, JIS X – Information Processing at 

18. Waddell, Cynthia D. “Worldwide Accessibility Laws and Policies” in Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance, Apress 2006.

19. “Social Analysis and Disability: A Guidance Note:  Incorporating Disability-Inclusive Development into Bank-Supported Projects (World Bank, March 2007) available from

20. ITU-T SG 16 Work on Accessibility, Total Conversation, at

21. California State University, USA, Accessible Technology Initiative, Procurement resources at

22. World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva Plan of Action 2003 at

23. World Summit on the Information Society, Tunis Agenda 2005 at