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Let’s Get Your VPAT in Place

As the demand for accessible technology grows, so does the demand for product manufacturers and vendors to formally document their product’s or service’s conformance with accessibility standards with a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).

Having a well written VPAT can be a compelling competitive differentiator for vendors who want to show potential buyers that they’re actively evaluating and building accessibility into the products and services they deliver.

Get Started on Your VPAT

Understanding the VPAT: Five Things You Need to Know

  • A VPAT Explains Your Product’s Accessibility. A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT™) is a document that explains how information and communication technology (ICT) products such as software, hardware, electronic content, and support documentation meet (conform to) the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility.
  • Having A VPAT Doesn’t Mean Your Product Is Accessible. Completing a VPAT does not ensure your products or systems are digitally accessible. Rather, a VPAT is like an analysis that identifies the extent of your digital accessibility at that point in time, and where improvements need to be made.
  • A VPAT Asks “How and Why” Rather Than “Yes or No.” Your VPAT doesn’t “check off” whether a certain accessibility criteria is supported or not supported. It is equally important to provide an explanation to back your claim, and give the reviewer an accurate picture of what your product’s accessibility components include at this point in time.
  • VPAT’s Aren’t Exclusive To Government Contracts. While a VPAT is often requested by Federal agency contracting officials and government buyers, it’s becoming an increasingly common requirement in business-to-business transactions and deals. It’s best to have a completed VPAT either posted on your company website or be available at the request of a customer.
  • Your VPAT Should Improve And Evolve Over Time. More and more procuring organizations are closely reviewing VPAT’s to understand a solution’s level of accessibility at that particular time, and the roadmap for what additional accessibility features will be implemented. So, it’s equally important to ensure that the VPAT you have in place is up-to-date, in accordance with the most recent version of your solution.

 

Why You Need to Complete a VPAT

The VPAT may seem like it’s highly technical, but it’s just an element of a larger mission to make technology accessible to everyone.

In 2001, the VPAT was created by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to further the accessibility of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services and provide a way for Federal agencies to document that the products they procure support the technical and functional performance requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Since then, the demand has grown for ICT product manufacturers and vendors to document their conformance with accessibility standards, and the VPAT template has evolved to cover new requirements in the Section 508 Refresh and incorporate the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0 or ISO/IEC 40500) by reference. The latest VPAT 2 template allows you to document conformance with other common accessibility standards such as WCAG 2.1 and EN 301 549 (for those who sell into Europe or Australia).

In short, an accessibility conformance report using the VPAT format outlines the digital accessibility functions of your technology, while showing that you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure your digital properties are accessible to people with disabilities.

Speak with a VPAT Specialist