What is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template?
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a self-disclosure prototype document filled out by vendors of electronic information technology (EIT) products and services to outline every aspect of the requirements of the applicable accessibility guidelines or standards and how the EIT product or service supports each of the requirements.
Although completing the VPAT template is optional, failing to do so runs the risk of your EIT products or services being excluded from conventional procurement procedures. This is due to the fact that VPAT compliance is necessary for EIT products and services to gain access to several highly lucrative markets.
For instance, federal procurement officials are required by Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act to acquire, develop, use, and maintain ICT that is accessible to people with disabilities.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration’s (GSA) procurement officials worked together to develop a common VPAT template that vendors can use to declare the accessibility of their EIT products and services in order to assist them in conducting market research for accessible EIT products and services.
VPAT accessibility is, therefore, a practice that no forward-thinking business can ignore. That is because even if your EIT product or service is of superior quality to those offered by your competitors, without VPAT compliance, don’t expect federal procurement officials or buyers from markets that are bound to demand evidence of VPAT accessibilityto even take time analyzing how your EIT product or service may be valuable to them.
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What is VPAT accessibility?
VPAT Accessibility is simply the practice of making EIT products and services understandable, relevant, and usable for the greatest number of people, especially people with disabilities, using the appropriate edition of the VPAT template.
Steps to writing your VPAT
Writing, creating, or filling out a VPAT refers to using the appropriate version of the VPAT template to develop the accessibility conformance report (ACR). Here are six golden steps you can use to create a VPAT ACR for your EIT product or service:
Download the appropriate version of the VPAT template
Download the prototype VPAT template from the ITI website. Ensure you download the correct edition of the template.
Download the VPAT edition of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) if you wish to show how accessible a website or mobile application is. Download the Revised Section 508 VPAT version if you wish to market your EIT products and services to the US federal government and its agencies. This edition of the VPAT template also contains the accessibility criteria and technical specifications found in the WCAG VPAT edition.
Download the EN 301 549 European Union (EU) VPAT edition if you wish to sell your EIT products or services in the European market. The technical requirements and accessibility standards included in the WCAG VPAT edition are also included in this version of the VPAT template.
Finally, download the International (INT) VPAT edition if you want your EIT products or services to be offered to a larger international market. All the accessibility requirements from the VPAT editions stated above, including WCAG, Section 508, and the EU VPATs, are included in this version of the VPAT template.
Complete the VPAT template’s cover page
Ensure that you read all the instructions provided on the cover page as well as on the other pages of the VPAT before filling it out.
Remove the instruction pages that shouldn’t be submitted with the ACR and make sure the cover page is correctly and thoroughly filled out with the necessary information.
Seek to understand the columns of the VPAT template tables
The first column provides the criteria to be covered, while the second column is for the conformance level, namely, “supports,” “partially supports,” “does not support,” and “not applicable.” The third column is for remarks and recommendations.
Complete Tables 1 and 2
Table 1 utilizes “Level A” success criteria, while Table 2 uses “Level AA” success criteria.
Determine the applicability of the technical standards to your product
You can determine the best VPAT edition to utilize for writing your VAPT ACR by understanding the technical requirements for accessibility of your EIT product.
Check your VPAT ACR for accuracy and completeness
Check your completed VPAT one last time to make sure everything is in order, including the thoroughness of the filling out and the accuracy of the completion of each part.
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Need help to writeyour VPAT?
A VPAT compliance expert can help you write your VPAT. This assures accuracy and completeness.Call (626) 486-2201 to talk to a VPAT accessibility expert or learn to fill out your VPAT using aVPAT example.