All You Should Know About The VPAT Template

  • 15.09.2022
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What is a VPAT?

VPAT is an acronym for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is a guide that uses Section 508 Standards to assess how accessible information and communication technology (ICT) products are.

VPATs, which are typically self-disclosing, are developed and produced by the vendor of an ICT product to assist customers in understanding how the product complies with each Section 508 requirement and how it supports the criteria.

VPAT as an accessibility conformance report (ACR) 

VPATs can be considered as accessibility conformance reports (ACRs) for the ICT products on which VPAT testing was undertaken to provide data and information for their creation. The products include applications, websites, hardware, software, and electronic products and documentation.

A crucial step in developing a product-specific VPAT is the use of the official VPAT Form, which is hosted by the Information Technology Industrial Council (ITI).

The VPAT Form is available from ITI in 4 editions, giving ICT vendors the opportunity to develop ACRs based on the standards that are suitable for their individual markets. These are the editions:

  • VPAT 2.4 Rev INT of February 2020, which incorporates VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG, VPAT 2.4 Rev 508, and VPAT 2.4 Rev EU.
  • VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG of February 2020, which was created with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 in mind.
  • VPAT 2.4 Rev 508 of February 2020, which was created with the Section 508 Accessibility Standard in mind.
  • VPAT 2.4 Rev EU of February 2020, which was created by keeping in mind the European Union’s accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe.

The various editions of the VPAT Form are usually available in the Microsoft Word format and require the filling in of details relating to Section 508 (2017 Refresh), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Accessibility Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements (Levels A, AA, and AAA), and the European Accessibility Standards (EN 301).

Is an accessibility VPAT mandatory?

VPATs are voluntary, as the name implies. They were created to assist ICT product vendors in adhering to US Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which mandates that federal government entities make ICT accessible to people with disabilities.

However, if you’re a vendor who wants to sell or lease your ICT products to the federal government or any of its agencies, you must provide a VPAT. This is true even if it is at the vendor’s own discretion to conduct VPAT testing on his or her ICT products and develop VPATs for the products.

Federal government entities want to buy products that are VPAT-certified. In order to provide your ICT products to the government agencies, you must have a VPAT. Your ICT product will, therefore, be excluded from federal procurements if it lacks a VPAT.

This can cost you money because of your inability to access the federal government market even if your ICT products are on par with or better than those of your competitors that get the nod to be considered by federal government agencies because they have VPATs.

Because having a VPAT for each of your ICT products assures that the product is not excluded from any of its possible consumers, it makes business sense to consider VPATs as a mandatory requirement for the success of your business.

For how long is a VPAT Valid?

The last thing you want as a business-savvy vendor who recognizes the value of a VPAT in gaining market possibilities for your ICT products is to have an out-of-date VPAT.

Smart vendors regularly commission VPAT testing for their ICT products to enable them to identify any accessibility problems that need to be fixed in order to stay up to date with Section 508 Standards as and when they are periodically changed. Regular updating of VPATs, at least on an annual basis, also prevents any consequences that could arise from noncompliance issues.

Who can create a VPAT?

There are no legal limitations on who can create a VPAT. Anyone can, therefore,create a VPAT. Businesses have two alternatives when it comes to creating VPATs for their ICT products: either they hire an impartial third-party to conduct the testing and provide the VPAT report, or they employ an internal team or an inside individual to do so.

It’s crucial to understand that the majority of the questions in a VPAT are technical in nature and call for specialized understanding of both accessibility and each provision covered by the VPAT document.

It is not practical to have vendor staff members who are sufficiently knowledgeable about these technical Section 508 and accessibility issues who can complete the VPAT correctly. Therefore, hiring a qualified specialist to conduct thorough VPAT testing of your product, and who is knowledgeable about Section 508 and accessibility will assist you in building an accurate and concise VPAT that will protect you from noncompliance litigation while also opening up business potential for you.

Never forget that negotiating the procurement process with the federal government and its agencies is frequently a difficult task even without the additional headaches of pushbacks and challenges brought on by ineffective VPATs. Hiring a competent third party to create the VPAT for you is your best bet if you want to ensure an objective VPAT testing that helps to deliver an accurate and quality VPAT.

What does VPAT certification mean?

In the accessibility community, the term “VPAT certification” is frequently used; leading many individuals to believe that creating a VPAT for an ICT product results in receiving a certificate from some recognized authority. The truth is that there is neither a certification nor a body responsible for VPAT certification.

VPAT certification involves creating a VPAT for your ICT product, which entails generating the information required to fill out the official VPAT template, completing the official VPAT template, and fixing any accessibility issues or mistakes in your ICT product based on the results of your VPAT testing or audit.

What is typically referred to, as a VPAT certificate is the Accessibility Compliance Report (ACR), is the precisely and concisely filled VPAT that you create following the VPAT testing. The VPAT certificate, or simply the VPAT, is commonly made available online for easy access and review by customers of the related ICT product. As an alternative, some businesses provide it upon request.

Need more information or help with the VPAT?

You can reach us at (626) 486-2201 if you have any additional questions concerning the VPAT. You can also use this link to get in touch with our sales team, who will be happy to help you with any questions you have about the VPAT and even set up a meeting to go through your requirements for VPAT testing and certification.

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