Why Do You Need a VPAT and ACR?

  • 2.06.2022
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    What is a VPAT?

    The acronym VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It refers to a document that manufacturers and vendors can use to describe how their products and services are accessible.

    The Rehabilitation Act’s Section 508 mandates that the federal government and its agencies make their information and communication technology (ICT) accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. The law applies to a wide range of federal government technology, including software, apps, platforms, hardware, websites, and electronic content.

    In 2001, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) collaborated with the General Administration Services, the federal government’s central procurement office, to develop a method for testing a product or service’s features against the Section 508 accessibility standards. The VPAT was created to assist the federal government in conducting market research on potential products for procurement.

    The VPAT was developed as a standard method for communicating about the accessibility of technology products and services to federal government employees by a business or organization for appropriate decision-making.

    What is an ACR?

    An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a formal document that summarizes the extent to which an information and communications technology (ICT) product or service complies with an agreed-upon set of international accessibility guidelines and standards.

    A VPAT template typically contains two sections: best practices and accessibility instructions, and the ACR. The section on instructions and best practices explains the guidelines and how to properly test against the provided criteria. This section of the VPAT template is typically reserved for internal use only.

    The actual accessibility portion of the Section 508 compliance checklist is usually the ACR. It is the section of the VPAT report that most potential buyers and consumers read. It is a snapshot of the current accessibility status of a specific aspect of technology, formatted in a series of tables and columns, and includes information on testing methods. The ACR also specifies which guidelines were evaluated and provides an explanation of how the technology performed in relation to each criteria.

    ACR can also be viewed as a set of criteria. It adheres to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 guidelines as well as Section 508 standards. Section 508 standards are only applicable to government ICT. There is some overlap between WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 criteria.

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      Why do you need a VPAT?

      Here are some reasons why you need a VPAT:

      1. Conformance with Section 508

      While the name implies that a VPAT is voluntary, VPATs can actually be more of a requirement than a voluntary statement. They are required for any business or service that is subject to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, primarily those that do business with or receive funds from the federal government.

      2. Communication to the wider procurement community

      The VPAT aids in communicating the accessibility level or degree of conformance of an ICT product or service to the larger procurement community. This enables buyers to make informed decisions before purchasing the product or service by allowing them to understand the level of accessibility compliance of the product or service and compare the compliance of similar products or services.

      Communication from a VPAT to the procurement community also assists members of the community in selecting a product or service that best meets accessibility standards as well as the organization’s functional and level requirements. It also ensures that buyers of the product or service plan have equal access when an accessible product is unavailable.

      3. Helping to work with federal organizations

      If you want to work with or provide services to the federal government, its agencies, and the organizations it funds, you must be VPAT certified. A properly documented VPAT will assist the federal organization with which you wish to collaborate or provide service in understanding the accessibility features of your product or service. This will help you persuade them to work with you.

      4. Facilitates the identification of critical accessibility issues for your products

      Businesses usually list all of the features that are present or missing in their products or services when filling out the VPAT. This makes it simple to identify the product’s or service’s accessibility issues.

      Furthermore, when you work with accessibility VPAT experts like ADA Compliance Pros, they will assist you with the VPAT testing that determines your product or service’s accessibility compliance percentage. They can then recommend which features should be added or removed from your product or service in order to improve its accessibility.

      5. Bespoke compliance services

      Businesses can use a VPAT to determine which features are required to make their websites and other digital assets accessible. This enables accessibility service providers, such as ADA Compliance Pros, to provide businesses with tailored accessibility solutions, reducing compliance service time and budgets while also making the entire process more profitable.

      Why do you need an ACR?

      Here are some reasons why you need an ACR:

      1. Comparison of compliance levels for different suppliers

      Buyers of ICT products and services can use the ACR to compare the levels of compliance of competing suppliers. This enables them to make the best decision for their organization.

      2. Sharing details of a product or service’s conformance to Section 508

      ACRs enable manufacturers and vendors to share section 508 conformance information with prospects. This serves as a strategy for marketing their products and services.

      3. Help in the tendering and procurement processes

      An ACR facilitates the tendering and procurement processes for federal government agencies and other organizations committed to VPAT accessibility by providing standard data and information that is critical to the tendering and procurement of products and services.

      4. Promotion of accurate accessibility reporting 

      ACRs have standard product and service information requirements. As a result, they are best-practice tools for reporting accurate and consistent product and service accessibility.

      5. Provides a form of measurement for determining accessibility

      ACR conformance evaluation criteria determine how well a product meets specific accessibility standards such as W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508, and so on. These serve as a type of measurement for determining a product’s or service’s accessibility.

      Get your VPAT and ACR with ADA Compliance Pros today!

      If you need a VPAT and ACR external accessibility expert to author or update the VPAT ACR for your product or service, VPAT audit, or VPAT testing, call ADA Compliance Pros at (626) 486-2201 today!