How to Read a VPAT ACR Created by SaaS and Software Providers
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In this article, we would like to shine the spotlight on software as a service (SaaS) and software providers because of how they are important to business growth, especially for small and micro enterprises (SMEs).
Small businesses account for over 90% of all enterprises worldwide, and more than 50% of all jobs created. Formal SMEs are predicted to generate seven out of every ten new jobs. That is why we concentrated on these economic catalysts in this post.
If you have a SME, you should learn about SaaS because it has many advantages, including lower upfront costs of commercial software, eliminating the need to install software on individual machines, service scalability as your business grows, integrations with other software you may be using, and instant software updates.
After learning about the advantages that a SaaS product will provide for your SME, you may opt to look into purchasing a new system for your business.
It is vital to know that accessibility criteria are becoming increasingly stringent, and you may face the consequences of an inaccessible product or service if you use a SaaS product or software that does not adhere to established accessibility standards.
You may be aware of the significance of employing SaaS products or software that is both accessible and supports the accessibility of your electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services. The dilemma could be that you may not ne a “techie” enough to realize the ways to improve your chances of procuring such products from third-party vendors and ensure they are accessible.
What you must remember is that if you integrate or utilize an inaccessible product or service, you are responsible, not the third-party vendor that sold it to you! In actuality, only a few third-party suppliers provide accessible products and services, and many do not consider accessibility when designing SaaS and software solutions. That is why you may not have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the SaaS or software providers to work with in your SME. For example, try checking out the live chat platforms and asking yourself whether every user can use them!
By being cautious about the third-party SaaS and software you employ in your SME, you can help to improve the accessibility of your products or services. This increases your chances of obtaining SaaS and software that is not just accessible but also makes your products and services accessible.
The fact is that the bulk of salespeople convincing you to purchase a SaaS product or software rarely know anything about accessibility. This means that if you want to increase your chances of acquiring accessible SaaS and software, you should learn about the voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT).
A VPAT is a prototype document that, when completed, explains how EIT products and services, such as SaaS products and software, adhere to established accessibility standards and guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Revised Section 508 Standards, and the European Union’s EN 301 549 Accessibility Standards.
A fully completed VPAT report, also known as a VPAT accessibility conformance report (ACR), helps public procurement entities and government buyers assess EIT products and services for accessibility when doing market research and evaluating bid proposals.
As public procurement bodies and government buyers need VPAT compliance as a prerequisite for purchasing EIT products and services, you, as a SME, must exercise comparable caution when purchasing SaaS and software products for use in your business for the following reasons:
To understand the accessibility characteristics of a SaaS or software product or service, always request VPAT reports from their providers so you may evaluate them and select the product or service that will offer you with the best accessibility results when used in your SME. You need to understand how a SaaS and software provider documents his or her VPAT ACR in order to appreciate the accessibility features and flaws of the product or service. The VPAT ACR should be reviewed as follows:
To begin, understand that VPAT ACRs employ technical specifications language and refer to complex US and European government rules, as well as worldwide accessibility norms. In addition, these VPAT reports include and define accessibility principles that customers may be unfamiliar with. Because not all SaaS and software suppliers are equally proficient at designing VPAT ACRs, some may have faults.
When reviewing the VPAT report, take in mind that there are several versions of the VPAT template, therefore older VPAT reports will have different information than recent ones. And, when reading the VPAT ACR, don’t expect a summary sentence that states, “Yes, this is accessible!”
Check that the VPAT report contains all of the sections that a properly completed VPAT should include. These are tables that summarize the VPAT product details, applicable standards or guidelines, and accessibility conformance report (ACR).
The summary should provide a brief overview of the SaaS or software solution, as well as the VPAT ACR. This comprises the product name, VPAT date, contact information, evaluation methods utilized, notes, and any other relevant information.
The applicable standards or guidelines section should include the following standards and guidelines: WCAG 2.0/2.1, Section 508, and EN 301 549, while the ACR tables list each of the success criteria associated with the SaaS, or software. These are usually organized by WCAG principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR).
The ACR includes tables with three columns, one for each success criteria, one for conformance level (“supports,” “partially supports,” “does not support,” “not applicable,” and “not evaluated”), and one for remarks and explanations.
Don’t let the non-conformance of SaaS or software products or services provided to your SME by a third party harm your business’ accessibility reputation.
We can assist you in reviewing the VPAT ACRs for the SaaS and software that you wish to purchase for your SME. We have the accessibility domain experience to assist you in reading any VPAT ACR provided by a SaaS or software provider, as well as the ability to create a correct and ready-to-submit VPAT report for SaaS and software providers.