The Essential Guide For Filling Out The VPAT 2.4 Template
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The world is becoming increasingly digital. This evolution is exposing us to the enormous promise as well as dangers of digital technologies. Making sure that digital products and services offer people with disabilities the same experiences as they do to everyone else is one approach of optimizing the advantages of a world that is increasingly becoming digital.
In fact, if there is a great lesson the world has learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the increased cost of being offline. Connectivity and the ability to use and access information through electronic information technology (EIT) are no longer aspects of life that can be considered luxuries. They are, indeed, lifelines for working, learning, keeping in touch, and accessing essential services.
In the world of digital connectivity, demonstrable accessibility is prime. That is why laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act have been enacted.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas like employment, transportation, public accommodations, communication, and access to state and local government programs and services, while Section 508 requires all federal electronic content to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
To help businesses demonstrate the accessibility of EIT products and services based on the established standards, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), in collaboration with the General Services Administration (GSA), developed the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
The VPAT enables businesses to report on their own how well their EIT products and services conform to the established accessibility standards. An accurately filled out VPAT also helps federal agencies evaluate the level of conformance of an EIT product or service before making the decision to purchase it.
VPAT accessibility is now a prerequisite for your EIT product or service to be procured by federal organizations. Without it, the federal government or any of its agencies cannot consider purchasing your EIT products or services. In fact, even if it is of higher quality compared to alternatives that are accessible and is VPAT-certified, the federal procuring officials won’t even consider purchasing it.
VPAT accessibility is the practice of making sure that all electronic information and technology products and services are versioned in multi-perception and usage ways for the broadest possible human use, including people with disabilities, as required by Section 508 and other established accessibility standards. It starts with downloading the correct version of the VPAT template to fill out from the government website.
On October 4, 2017, the ITI issued the VPAT 2.0 update. Although this version is the most well-known, there have been several updates after this, each of which aimed to improve the reporting experience for a specific EIT industry. Even though the VPAT 2.4 template is the most recent version, like the original VPAT, it also includes a column for recording conformance to each provision of a standard or guidelines applicable to an EIT product or service.
Manufacturers and vendors can simply declare the level of conformance of their EIT product or service by choosing one of four options on the VPAT 2.4 template: “supports,” “partially supports,” “does not support,” or “not applicable.” Here are some things to keep in mind when completing the VPAT 2.4 template:
Select the VPAT 2.4 template version that aligns with the market you want to sell your product or service to.
If you want your product or service to be procured by U.S. federal organizations, use the VPAT 2.4: Revised Section 508 Standards template. If you want to sell your products or services in Europe, you should use the VPAT 2.4 EU: EN 301 549 template. For web-based products or services, use VPAT 2.4: WCAG 2.0, or WCAG 2.1. But if your product is meant for the global market, use the VPAR 2.4 INT, which incorporates all three standards above.
Always bear in mind, when completing a VPAT, that the template offers an organized approach that facilitates conversations between you and the purchasers of your EIT products or services.
Your products or services will certainly have some accessibility shortcomings. Use the VPAT template to note these accessibility issues as well as their severity. As a remedy for the deficiencies in your products or services, provide alternate access points or accommodations.
When you do this, you give your clients the chance to inform their own customers about the shortcomings in your products or services. These customers then have three options: they can suggest their own accommodations, ask that you propose a solution that includes remediation before or after purchase, or reject the good or service as being unsuitable.
Make sure to answer all the questions in the VPAT 2.4 template when filling it out because purchasers can significantly save their procurement cycle time if they obtain a well-documented VPAT. It’s possible that you and your customers will have less question-and-answer sessions as a result of this time savings, or that customers won’t seek out additional reliable sources of information about your products or services.
A VPAT needs precise data that can only be achieved by an impartial audit of your EIT product or service. It normally adds a great deal of credibility to the trustworthiness of the accessibility conformance report (ACR) to have your product or service assessed and developed by a skilled third party. Although it is not necessary to do this in order to complete a VPAT, it is highly advised.
Always bear in mind that buyers are always interested in the test methods you employed to produce the accessibility information about your EIT product or service. The majority of buyers favor products and services whose VPAT ACRs were developed using information gathered using techniques that make use of both automated and manual testing.
Automated testing employs tools that scan for accessibility problems in the EIT product or service. Between 30% and 40% of the technical mistakes in the product or service are typically be detected by the automated testing tools. Contrarily, manual testing makes use of the actual assistive technologies that people with disabilities utilize.
Buyers are frequently aware that it may cost more to thoroughly audit an EIT product or service than a manufacturer or provider is practically able to bear. As such, you may choose to sample audit important aspects of your product or service, in which case you must provide the details of everything you did in your VPAT, and indicate that the audit underpinning the VPAT ACR was not a full audit of the product or service.