What is the VPAT 2.4 Template?
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Among the VPAT template questions that manufacturers and vendors have recently asked me is, “What is a VPAT 2.4 template?” To answer this question, I frequently begin by providing a brief overview of the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
The VPAT is a document that explains how information and communication technology (ICT) such as software, hardware, electronic content, and support documentation comply with the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility. When conducting market research and evaluating proposals, the VPAT assists federal agency contracting officials and government buyers assess ICT products and services for accessibility.
The VPAT is available in a variety of versions or editions that include standard updates such as a correction to the U.S. Revised Section 508 final rule, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, and the EN 301 549 V2. 1.2. The most recent version of the VPAT, 2.4, was released in February 2020. The provisions of EN 301 549 V3 are incorporated into the VPAT 2.4 templates.
The WCAG version of the VPAT assesses compliance with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at levels A, AA, and AAA. Section 508 version verifies adherence to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The EU version verifies accessibility compliance for EN 301 549 standards, whereas the INT (International) version verifies compliance for all standards. This means that a manufacturer or vendor who adheres to this version has all of the features included in the WCAG, Section 508, and EN 301 549 standards.
VPAT 2.4, like the original VPAT, includes a column for recording conformance to each provision of a standard or guideline applicable to a product or service. Manufacturers and vendors declare the degree of conformance by selecting one of four options: “supports,” “partially supports,” “does not support,” or “not applicable.”
The conformance level “partially supports” replaced “supports with exceptions” in the previous VPAT update of the VPAT template. The request was made at the request of US Access Board representatives. VPAT 2.4 also includes a column for explaining each reported conformance level in greater detail.
The template date in VPAT 2.4 differs from the template date in previous VPAT versions. The template date has been removed from the document due to confusion with the VPAT template report date. The modifications ensure that the date appears in the filename while only the version information appears in the document.
Another new feature of the VPAT 2.4 template is version-specific instructions. The instructions vary depending on the version. In the WCAG version, for example, only WCAG-related instructions are available.
Another new feature in the VPAT 2.4 template is the table heading. A table with no heading, as was the case in the previous VPAT template version, now has one.
Another area where the VPAT 2.4 has seen changes is the EN 301 549 version. The EU and INT versions’ links and tables have been updated to reflect the new version of EN 301 459.
Overall, the most significant change in the VPAT 2.4 template is associated with EN 301 549, which reflects the new standard version. The rest of the changes are minor. What does the VPAT 2.4 template imply? It basically means that if you’re targeting European markets, you should update your VPATs to reflect the changes introduced by VPAT 2.4.