What Is A VPAT?
“VPAT” is an acronym for “voluntary product accessibility template.” This is a self-created prototype document available to manufacturers and vendors of information and communication technology (ICT) products and services and used to test and document how closely the products or services adhere to the established accessibility standards for making ICT usable by people with disabilities.
A VPAT assists in comprehending the degree of accessibility for individuals with disabilities of an ICT product or service. Before making a purchasing choice, it also enables customers, especially those with disabilities, to compare the VPAT compliance levels of other related products.
Origins of The VPAT
The VPAT’s origins can be traced to the amendment of the Rehabilitation Act by the U.S. Congress, which required federal agencies to make their ICT accessible to people with disabilities, regardless of whether they worked for the federal government or not.
The template was created by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA) to help federal agencies in their research for accessible products and services.
Beginning with VPAT 508 compliance, which promotes the accessibility of ICT products and services procurable by federal agencies in the United States, VPAT compliance has now established itself as best practice for ensuring the accessibility of ICT products and services in Europe and globally.
What Is VPAT Compliance?
VPAT compliance refers to the clear documentation, using the VPAT template, of the level of conformance to the established accessibility standards, which assists businesses and organizations to measure and demonstrate the conformance of their ICT products or services to the established accessibility standards.
It is required for a wide range of digital products and services, including e-learning and commerce platforms, mobile apps, websites, software, hardware, documents, and remote access tools.
Key Steps In The VPAT Compliance Pathway
VPAT compliance entails identifying the correct edition of the VPAT to use during the compliance process, undertaking the VPAT audit, filling out the VPAT to generate an accessibility conformance report (ACR), and making the duly completed ACR available for public review.
If you want to make your ICT products and services available for public procurement within U.S. federal organizations, the correct VPAT edition to use will be the Section 508 compliance VPAT. Completing the Section 508 compliance VPAT will help you in the following ways:
- Helps Your Company Do Business With U.S. Federal Agencies
You’ll not be able to do business with U.S. federal organizations if the ICT products or services you’re offering do not have an updated Section 508 compliance VPAT.
- Detecting The Accessibility Challenges In ICT Products And Services
Perhaps the most significant benefit of VPAT compliance for manufacturers and vendors of ICT products and services is its ability to identify accessibility flaws during the VPAT audit stage.
Identification of accessibility issues makes the manufacturer or vendor work on the areas where issues have been spotted, which ensures only accessible and good-quality products and services are made available in the market.
- Customized Compliance Services
When accessibility issues are detected during a product’s or service’s VPAT audit stage, a manufacturer or vendor is able to get professional help precisely focused on the areas where the audit identified accessibility challenges. In that way, the company does not waste time and resources fixing accessibility issues in their products or services.
- Compliance With The Law
The best way to succeed with your sales in a particular market is to endeavor to comply with the market’s laws and regulations. In the U.S., the ADA and the revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act define the accessibility legal landscape. The Section 508 compliance VPAT helps to deepen accessibility, which is why completing it enables manufacturers and vendors to comply with the accessibility laws in the U.S.
Need Help Filling Out Your Section 508 Compliance VPAT?
It has been established that the best VPAT ACRs are those completed by independent third-party agencies like ADACP. While there is no requirement that you hire an independent third party for your VPAT compliance, most buyers of ICT products and services view internally completed VPAT ACRs with suspicion because of their nature to be less objective.
If you want to outsource your VPAT compliance to expert accessibility agencies, try out ADACP. Call (626) 486-2201 to arrange a free consultation with them.