Do I Require a VPAT ACR For Non-EIT Products?

  • 14.10.2022
Need a VPAT? Let us get you one quickly.

    What is a VPAT?

    “VPAT,” which is an acronym for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is a web-based standard document that enables vendors of electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services to document how their products and services comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    A requirement of the U.S. Section 508 accessibility statute is that all federal agencies and their affiliated companies make their electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services accessible to people with disabilities.

    The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration (GSA), which is the agency in charge of overseeing federal procurement processes, worked together to design the VPAT in 2001. When performing market research for products and services to be purchased by federal agencies, the VPAT aims to assist federal government agencies as well as contracting and procurement specialists in properly evaluating the available EIT products and services against Section 508 and other established standards.

    The VPAT is available in four editions, each of which focuses on the applicable accessibility laws and regulations. The four editions are the VPAT European Union (EU) edition, the VPAT International (INT), the Revised Section 508 VPAT Edition, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) VPAT edition.

    Vendors can document how their EIT products and services adhere to the WCAG standard with the help of the WCAG VPAT version (i.e., WCAG 2.0 Level AA or WCAG 2.1 Level AA). Vendors can alternatively opt to demonstrate how their EIT products and services adhere to Section 508 accessibility requirements as well as the WCAG standard by using the Revised Section 508 VPAT.

    The VPAT EU version sets out the EN 301 549 technical standards for accessibility for EIT products and services that are meant for the EU market. The INT VPAT captures the accessibility criteria in the WCAG VPAT edition, the Revised Section 508 VPAT edition, and the VPAT EU edition.

    Every VPAT edition has a WCAG conformance column for each of the guidelines. It is in these columns that a vendor specifies one of the four degrees of conformance: supports, partially supports, does not support, and not applicable.

    When an EIT product or service performs in at least one way that fits the requirement without obvious defects or does so with a comparable level of ease, the degree of conformity specified in the VPAT ACR is “supports”.

    When some characteristics of an EIT product or service do not fulfill the criterion, the degree of conformity is indicated as “partially supports,” whereas the degree of conformance “does not support” is specified when a significant portion of the EIT product or service does not meet the criterion. Last but not least, where the evaluated criterion does not apply to the EIT product or service, the “not applicable” degree of compliance is indicated.

    Which products and services require VPAT testing and VPAT ACRs?

    According to the Revised Section 508 Technical Standards, all EIT products and services, including electronic content and software, are required to conform to Section 508. This includes meeting the Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements for WCAG 2.0 at Levels A and AA.

    WCAG standards obviously apply to all web-based products, just as they do to all software and electronic content. Creating a VPAR ACR for your product or service would benefit both your industry and the federal government as long as it contains a component or components that could prevent individuals with disabilities from having a comparable experience using them as would those without disabilities.

    When you develop a VPAT ACR, you open the door for the federal government agencies to purchase your product or service. Your VPAT ACR demonstrated to your current and potential customers that your business takes accessibility seriously. To learn more about VPAT ACRs, check out this link.

    By creating a VPAT ACR, you make it possible for federal government agencies to purchase your products or services. Your VPAT ACR demonstrates to your clients—both present and future—that your business takes accessibility seriously. Take a look at this link to find out more about VPAT ACRs.

    The VPAT process is complicated. Let us handle it for you.

      Why create an ACR if accessibility issues are noticed at VPAT testing stage?

      You should create a VPAT ACR for your product or service if it is one of those listed as needing VPAT testing and compliance under Section 508. In essence, having the VPAT ACR enables your product or service to be compared to comparable ones for accessibility, even if it reveals that not all applicable Section 508 Technical Standards have been satisfied.

      You will be the most Section 508 compliant if you have a VPAT ACR for your EIT product or service compared to your competitors who don’t, which increases the likelihood that federal agencies will purchase your offering over your competitors’.

      When you do a VPAT ACR for your EIT products and services, you become more aware of how accessible they are and can take action to make them more accessible. You can then reach a larger customer base as a result of this.

      Why developing a VPAT ACR for your non-EIT products is a smart move

      Non-EIT products and services suppliers are being forced to think more and more about how to make their offerings accessible to customers with disabilities as more and more vendors use digital channels to connect with their present and new customers. Even if your product or service might not fit into one of the categories covered by the Revised Section 508, you may need to use EIT tools in order to promote it, in which case you must adhere to the relevant VPAT accessibility criteria.

      It is also wise to create VPAT ACRs for your non-EIT products and services because doing so forces you to look at them from the perspective of people with disabilities. Accessibility issues are common across all products and services, not only EIT ones. So your products and services don’t have to be EIT for you to be committed to accessibility.

      Taking the initiative to create VPAT ACRs for your non-EIT products and services will demonstrate your commitment to accessibility to the market, especially customers with disabilities. In addition to enhancing your business ’ reputation among customers with disabilities, creating VPAT ACRs for your non-EIT products and services will illustrate to federal contracting and procurement officials your business’s dedication to accessibility. This could make them consider you for other roles because they’ll know that in discharging those roles, you’ll also be making contributions to their goal of accessibility.

      Need more information or help with VPAT ACRs for non-EIT products?

      If you have any questions or need any help with VPAT ACRs for non-EIT products and services, please don’t hesitate to call us at (626) 486-2201 or send us a message by clicking here.