Tips About Engaging a VPAT Accessibility Consultant

  • 24.02.2023

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    What is a VPAT?

    “VPAT” is an acronym for “voluntary product accessibility template.” This template was created by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in partnership with the U.S. procurement office, known as the General Services Administration (GSA).

    The VPAT was created as a means for vendors of information and communication technology (ICT) products and services to make information available to government agencies and ICT buyers regarding the level of compliance with the technical, functional performance, documentation, and support requirements of the existing accessibility standards or guidelines: Section 508 standards, Europe and Australia’s EN 301 549 accessibility standards, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

    A well-filled-out VPAT document helps procuring officials make preliminary assessments when carrying out market research for accessible ICT products and services. What typically happens is that the VPAT vendors are asked to supply by the procurement officials are used as the de facto standard way in which the vendors communicate the compliance of their products or services with the provisions of the established accessibility standards.

    Challenges procurement officials find with VPATs

    A significant number of reports developed by the officials who participate in the procurement of ICT products and services indicate that so many vendor VPATs tend to be a subject of ridicule among procuring officials. That is because they often contain useless information that ranges from being ineptto being astonishingly inaccurate.

    As a standard format document, the VPAT provides a level playing field for ICT product or service vendors to provide high-level information about the accessibility of their products or services.

    While there is not much to it but a list of conformance checks against each provision of accessibility requirement as well as places to enter author comments, vendors still make laughable mistakes in filling out the form. The ridicule that is accorded to these VPATs makes them miss out on their authors’ intention of convincing procurement officials to consider purchasing the associated products or services.

    In fact, some business owners blame the procurement officials for not considering their products and services during the procurement processes, yet their VPATs appear to have been filled out by either a disinterested person or one in a hurry, and they miss out on most of the issues the procurement officials look out for.

    What has been established by many researchers who seek to know what successful VPAT vendors submit to procurement offices looks like an intimate knowledge that most of the badly filled out VPAT documents appear to have been filled out by officials in the affected businesses’ marketing departments. The language does not indicate knowledge of accessibility laws and dynamics!

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

      Why it helps to engage a VPAT consultant to fill out your VPAT document

      To avoid your VPAT report being the subject of ridicule in procurement offices, many businesses are seeking the services of skilled third party professionals to fill out the VPAT documents for their ICT products and services.

      Businesses and organizations are engaging the services of trusted VPAT consultants for the following reasons:

      • Preparing a good VPAT report requires a deepknowledge of the existing accessibility standards, guidelines, and emerging dynamics. Filling out the VPAT documents internally or getting a novice to do it makes your VPAT reports look shoddy or inaccurate. This could harm your company’s or organization’s reputation in the procurement community.
      • Filling out a VPAT document requires a comprehensive review of the underlying data and information. The person who fills out your VPAT document needs to understand the accessibility requirements expected from the product or service. This means they should be able to conduct a thorough review of all the features of the product or service in light of the features that will be required by the product or service’s users.
      • Providing objective and unbiased information. VPATs that are not completed by third-party VPAT consultants tend to have dishonest disclosures, which are more likely to cause businesses serious problems. A professional VPAT consultant will be forthright about the flaws in your product or service, as well as provide explanations and comments on the subject.

      Hire a third-party VPAT consultant to avoid VPAT-related problems

      If you’re keen on ensuring trouble-free purchase of your ICT products or services, an independent third party VPAT consultant will help you create a clear, complete, and informative VPAT report.

      Procurement processes are complicated enough without the added challenges caused by the pushbacks and difficulties an incomplete, inaccurate, or uninformative VPAT report will herald. To be able to effectively complete the project with experienced ICT manufacturers and vendors, ensure that you don’t exclude your products or services from the procurement shortlists by having a bad VPAT report. Your best bet will be to hire a skilled VPAT consultant to undertake the entire VPAT compliance process for you.

      Tips for getting a good VPAT consultant

      Just like getting people within your business or organization to fill out the VPAT documents for your products or services could lead you to having a bad VPAT report, hiring the wrong VPAT consultant will do likewise.

      At ADACP, we’ve been approached by a number of businesses and organizations that believed they were saving money by hiring someone who promised a low-cost service to assist them with their VPAT compliance processes.

      Most of them abandon the process midway because they lack the capacity to continue. While we’re always happy to help such businesses and organizations, no matter what stage their VPAT compliance is in, getting the right VPAT consultant from the onset is the best thing to do. Here are some of the tips to use in securing a good VPAT consultant:

      • Get a consultant who has a broad understanding of the most current practices and strategies in the VPAT compliance domain. Such a consultant will be able to share such knowledge with your business or organization so as to keep you on top of VPAT accessibility issues while helping you be compliant.
      • Hire a consultant who is unbiased and removed from internal business or organizational politics. You can learn about a possible consultant to hire from your references or by reading the reviews of the consultant’s past clients.
      • Ensure the consultant is knowledgeable about accessibility issues in general and VPAT compliance in particular.
      • Hire consultants who complete their work responsibly. Consultants who best understand the purpose and reasoning behind their recommendations, as well as those offering to help implement the recommendations, are usually the best.

      Need help finding a good VPAT accessibility consultant?

      No matter what stage of VPAT accessibility you are at, ADACP is able to provide support to you through VPAT testing, VPAT consulting, and other ways of ensuring you are VPAT compliant.

      Call Our VPAT Consultant Today to learn more about how we can help you excel in your business or organizational undertakings through having clear, accurate, and informative VPAT reports for your products and services. Our consultations are always free!