What Constitutes a Good VPAT ACR?
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VPAT, which is an acronym for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is a prototype document for use by manufacturers and vendors of electronic information technology (EIT) products and services to self-generate information on how their EIT products or services adhere to the recognized accessibility criteria.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) collaborated with the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop the VPAT form to further the accessibility of EIT products and services. For example, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the Revised Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the European Union’s EN 301 459 accessibility standard all guarantee standardized documentation supporting the technical and functional performance requirements for accessibility.
The criteria and technical requirements for accessibility based on the standard or guideline are included in each of the four accessibility VPAT forms that ITI has created. The VPAT Section 508 contains the criteria and technical specifications for conformity with the Revised Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, and the VPAT EU contains criteria and technical specifications for accessibility in accordance with the EU’s EN 301 459 standard. The VPAT WCAG anchors the criteria and technical specifications for accessibility based on WCAG 2.0 or 2.1.
The VPAT International (INT), which is used to document the accessibility of EIT products and services intended for the worldwide market, contains the accessibility criteria and technical specifications in the other three editions of the VPAT form.
The VPAT form has two sections: the compliance template and instructions on how to utilize the form. You must do an in-depth and honest analysis of the EIT product or service for which you wish to create a VPAT report before completing the VPAT form.
Using one of the four conformance levels—supports, partially supports, does not support, or not applicable—you will be prompted by the VPAT form’s basic framework to evaluate the compliance to specific accessibility rules that are pertinent to your EIT product or service. For creating effective VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs) for your EIT products or services, consider the following recommended practices:
Once completed, the VPAT report becomes an accessibility conformance report (ACR), which should only include the completed template.
For agencies and organizations that do business with the federal government and are required to fill out VPAT forms, it is essential to have a long-term strategy for comprehensive and ongoing accessibility monitoring and remediation to be assured of creating good VPAT ACRs that guarantee you receive the much-needed federal assistance. Here are some pointers to get you started on the right track of creating a good VPAT ACR:
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or vendor of an EIT product or service to develop a good VPAT ACR. A good VPAT ACR easily educates people about an EIT product’s or service’s accessibility features as well as its limitations for users with disabilities. That helps in the informed decision-making that is necessary for the purchase of the product or service. Here are some of the factors that make a good VPAT ACR:
A good VPAT ACR is one whose authors determine the correct accessibility standards and guidelines to be included in the report. A VPAT ACR cannot be good if it relies on accessibility criteria and technical specifications that are not relevant to the market for which the product or service is intended.
A good VPAT ACR must be accessible even if it is replicated in different delivery formats such as HTML or PDF.
A good VPAT ACR must contain the report title, VPAT heading information, name of the product or version of the product, product description, date of report publication, contact information, notes about any details or further explanations about the product or the report, evaluation methods used, applicable standards and guidelines, descriptions of conformance level terms, tables for each standard and guideline, and detailed remarks and explanations to justify the information provided in the conformance level column.
A good VPAT ACR should have the “Essential Requirements and Best Practices for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Vendors” section removed from the template when being published in its final form.
You can learn about developing a good VPAT ACR by reviewing a VPAT ACR example. If you would like more information about good VPAT ACRs or need a third-party professional to help you fill out your VPAT, call (626) 486-2201 to discuss your issue with one of our dedicated accessibility experts.