What is the Purpose of VPAT Reports?

  • 10.11.2022
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    Understanding what a VPAT is all about

    Let’s first explore what a VPAT is in order to better understand what a VPAT report is and what its purpose is. The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) was created by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as a prototype template to help federal government contracting officials and other purchasers of electronic information technology (EIT) products and services in preliminary evaluations regarding the commercially available EIT products and services with features that support accessibility.

    Manufacturers and vendors of EIT products and services can use the VPAT to self-report on how their products and services adhere to established accessibility requirements, offer specifics on how well they performed during implementation and testing, and list any accessibility flaws they are aware of.

    The prototype VPAT template is available in four editions: WCAG 2.0/2.1, Section 508, European Union (EU), and International (INT.). Manufacturers, developers, or sellers of EIT products or services must specify in each of these templates’ tables with accessibility criteria whether and how the features and functionalities of their products and services match the technical and functional performance requirements of the relevant accessibility standards.

    The VPAT WCAG 2.0/2.1 anchors the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ technical and functional standards. While the VPAT EU version anchors the EU’s EN 301 549 Accessibility Standard, the VPAT Section 508 anchors the technical and functional performance requirements of the U.S. Revised Section 508 Standard.

    The VPAT INT combines the technical and functional performance standards from the previous three VPAT template versions: VPAT WCAG 2.0/2.1, VPAT Section 508, and VPAT EU. It is designed to produce VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs) for EIT products and services for the worldwide market.

    Rather than requiring documentation of accessibility conformance to all criteria from multiple standards or within one standard, the VPAT template breaks down the criteria into sections that you can easily remove if they are not applicable to your product or service. That can be done during the filling out of your VPAT ACR.

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      VPAT reports and their purpose

      In essence, VPAT reports are properly completed VPAT ACRs. In-depth VPAT testing or VPAT audits of the targeted EIT products or services are typically performed before the VPAT reports are written. VPAT reports help in the following ways:

      • Provide documentation and explanations on product/service’s accessibility

      The amount of compliance with the established accessibility requirements that a specific EIT product or service has is documented through VPAT reports. VPAT reports also help to document explanations about the accessibility, or lack thereof, of EIT products and services. This assists customers in making well-informed judgments about buying the products or services, which increases sales and income for a business.

      • Identification of accessibility gaps

      The purpose of VPAT reports goes beyond only ensuring compliance with legal accessibility standards like WCAG, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and EN 301 549 from the EU. You’ll be able to identify the accessibility issues your product or service has more clearly and be more motivated to work on solving them when you complete your VPAT report and document the accessibility of your EIT product or service.

      Therefore, VPAT reports assist businesses in identifying and realizing the accessibility shortcomings and difficulties of their EIT products or services. As a result, it helps them to make plans for raising the caliber of their products or services, ensuring compliance with established standards for accessibility, and meeting the needs of their clients without bias. This is true because buyers of the products or services have the opportunity to offer feedback to the business after looking over the business’ VPAT reports for those products or services.

      • Facilitates the comparison of similar EIT products or services

      Before choosing which EIT products or services to purchase, buyers can use VPAT reports to compare the quality—including accessibility—of comparable products or services. As a result, the reports assist them in making wise decisions between comparable products or services based on the criteria and information provided in the reports.

      • Reflects the accessibility standards and compliance status for a business

      The public can learn more about a business’s accessibility standards and compliance status from the business’ VPAT reports. To serve as the business’s product or service performance reports, which reflects favorably in the eyes of consumers if effort is demonstrated toward achieving the established accessible requirements.

      • Demonstration of commitment to making accessible products or services

      A business’s understanding of the accessibility issues related to its products or services, as well as its commitment to addressing those issues so as to make its products or services equally accessible to all customers, are communicated to customers by way of properly completed VPAT reports.

      • Illustration of a business’ knowledge of a product’s accessibility challenges

      A properly completed VPAT report shows buyers that a business is aware of the accessibility issues that an EIT product or service has and that the business is committed to making the product or service more accessible for all buyers.

      • Avoidance of costly lawsuits and their associated consequences

      With about 3000 lawsuits each year pertaining to digital accessibility, a properly designed VPAT report that accurately depicts how accessible your goods or services are shields your business from the possibility of legal disputes and their actual financial and image-destroying repercussions. 

      Therefore, hiring a qualified VPAT accessibility specialist to assist you in writing your VPAT report will guarantee that you shield your business from legal action and monetary loss while also assisting you in making your goods and services more accessible.

      Get help to write the VPAT report for your EIT product or service!

      You can learn more about VPAT reports by reviewing an accurately written VPAT report example or by calling ADA Compliance Pros at (626) 486-2201 to be assisted with writing a VPAT report for your EIT product or service.