How Do You Undertake VPAT Assessments?

  • 11.11.2022
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    What are VPAT assessments?

    The completion of a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) assessment is one of the most popular ways to demonstrate the accessibility of an electronic information technology (EIT) product or service. 

    The VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs), which are produced following VPAT assessments, are a standard for demonstrating compliance with the technical requirements and standards outlined in the current accessibility standards and guidelines, including Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and the European Union’s EN 301 549, among other accessibility regulations and requirements.

    The evaluation of an EIT product or service’s accessibility using the appropriate VPAT form—VPAT WCAG 2.0/2.1, VPAT Section 508, VPAT EU, or VPAT International—is known as VPAT testing or VPAT assessment. It is done in accordance with the established accessibility standards and criteria, such as WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1, the Revised Section 508 Standard, and the EU’s EN 301 549. (INT). 

    The importance of VPAT assessments in VPAT certification

    The goal of VPAT certification is to develop comprehensive VPAT ACRs that support the procurement or purchase of your EIT products or services in a variety of marketplaces. For instance, VPAT 508 certification makes it easier for you to secure contracts for your EIT services or products with U.S. federal government agencies.

    A crucial part of VPAT certification entails VPAT assessments. They assist in capturing the specifications of the EIT products or services, in accordance with the criteria and technical specifications set under the accessibility standards and guidelines for various markets.

    The assessments also help provide manufacturers and vendors important information on the characteristics of their EIT products and services. From the assessments, they are able to see elements that need to be changed about their products or services to make them more accessible, which contributes to the ongoing enhancement of the quality of their products or services.

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

      Conducting VPAT assessments

      When delivering VPAT assessments, you have two choices: either hire a neutral third party to carry out the evaluation and produce the VPAT ACR for you, or try to do it yourself.  But keep in mind, that many procurement departments, especially in the Federal Government, do not accept VPAT ACRs that were internally completed.

      Whatever choice you make, the VPAT assessment will involve various combinations of one or more of the following measures:

      • Reviewing the appropriate VPAT form to provide guidance on the features you should examine during the assessment.
      • Product testing by people (internal staff or independent third party experts) who are familiar with accessibility.
      • Product or service demonstrations and solicitation of feedback on their accessibility.
      • In-house product or service accessibility testing.
      • Independent third-party accessibility audit of the product or service.
      1. Review of the appropriate VPAT form and product/service descriptions

      2. Planning is required before conducting VPAT assessments. The planning must take into account the fact that just because a VPAT for your EIT product or service is available, it does not necessarily guarantee that the document contains information that is beneficial to your buyers or procurement teams, who may be interested in the product or service.

        Therefore, the data acquired for the VPAT ACR must be pertinent to the requirements for accessibility conformance of the product or service. The key accessibility questions the appropriate VPAT template asks of the product or service, as well as the description of the targeted EIT product or service, are reviewed prior to the VPAT assessment in order to help shape the assessment and pave the way for the production of appropriate and useful data and information during the completion of the ACR.

      3. Actual testing by people familiar with VPAT accessibility

      4. A person who is knowledgeable about VPAT accessibility will use that knowledge to select the best methodology for gathering data and information that will be helpful in building an informative VPAT ACR.

        They are able to comprehend the automated tools to be used in the assessment, if any, the manual assessment approaches to advocate in order to arrive at crisp and useful information, any browsers or assistive technologies to be used in the assessment, and specifics about the individuals involved in the assessment, based on the product or service description.

        The aforementioned illustrates why conducting the VPAT assessment internally won’t be a good idea if you don’t have a dedicated staff that is informed about VPAT accessibility. It puts you at increased risk of being penalized for creating unreliable or fraudulent VPAT ACRs.

      5. Product or service demonstrations and solicitation of feedback

      6. A good VPAT assessment is founded on the understanding that buyers of the product or service are out there in the relevant market. It values the feedback from a sample of potential buyers from the relevant market, including users of the product or service.

        They therefore make an effort to conduct product demonstrations among prospective users of the product or service in order to get their feedback on how the product or service is accessible to different user categories, including people with disabilities. This is done in order to understand the user experience regarding the product or service.

      7. In-house product or service testing 

      8. VPAT assessments can also involve in-house product or service testing. That entails checking the accessibility of the product or service with the help of people within the business or company. When a product or service is tested internally, it is exposed to a variety of staff members, including those who were not involved in its conception or creation and may not share its pro-protectionism viewpoints.

        In-house product or service testing ensures that some of the accessibility issues noted in the product or service are addressed before the product is released into the market. In order to enable comfortable feedback settings for internal personnel to openly offer criticisms regarding the accessibility of the product or service, it is advised that internal product or service testing be performed by an impartial third-party accessibility specialist.

      9. Independent third-party accessibility testing

      10. The majority of the data needed to accurately complete a VPAT ACR is of a highly technical nature and necessitates both specialized accessibility knowledge and specialized understanding of each provision covered by the template. Few vendor employees might be familiar enough with established standards and accessibility to know exactly what to look for when doing VPAT assessments.

        Inaccurate VPAT ACRs are frequently the result of VPAT assessments conducted by individuals who lack expertise of accessibility or the specific provisions mentioned in the VPAT document. An independent third-party expert will help to eliminate this because of their capacity to undertake a comprehensive review of the product or service and their ability to provide objective and unbiased information.

      Get help with undertaking your product or service’s VPAT assessment!

      Studying the type of data a properly completed VPAT ACR provides can help you learn how to conduct a VPAT assessment. You could also call ADA Compliance Pros at (626) 486-2201 to get assistance with completing a VPAT assessment for your product or service.