Why is it Advisable to Have a Third Party Fill Out Your VPAT Document?
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A VPAT document is a record that details the compliance of information and communication technology (ICT) products, such as software, hardware, electronic content, and support documentation, with the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility as outlined in the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
The term “VPAT” is an acronym that stands for “voluntary product accessibility template,” which was created in 2001 by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in collaboration with the General Services Administration, the U.S. government’s main procurement agency, to address the broad issue of aligning ICT product features with the checklist of Section 508 accessibility requirements.
By segmenting an ICT product’s features into eight categories—software applications and operating systems; web-based internal information and applications; telecommunications products; video and multi-media products; self-contained closed products; desktop and portable computers; functional performance criteria; and information, documentation, and support—an accurately filled VPAT document typically reflects the accessibility features of the entire ICT product.
The VPAT document is a useful tool to have on hand whether you’re producing a product for someone else that needs VPAT compliance, fixing your ICT product, or participating in a procurement process. It is important to note that a VPAT document is not an audit report on an ICT product, though for VPAT compliance, a vendor must have performed an audit to fill out the VPAT.
VPAT compliance is refers to the accessibility of a particular ICT product based on Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. It entails self-disclosure by an ICT product vendor and describes every facet of the Section 508 standards as well as how the specific ICT product supports each criterion.
VPATs are helpful, but their accuracy cannot be taken for granted. Given that the vendor creates them, they could misrepresent how easily his or her product is accessible. Therefore, a properly completed VPAT is one that was preceded by the carrying out of a professional VPAT audit on the targeted product so as to generate the data needed to fill out the VPAT document.
The majority of ICT product customers don’t take vendor promises of product accessibility seriously if they aren’t supported by written documentation that has been verified by qualified VPAT assessments.
In reality, wary consumers of ICT products ask who conducted the VPAT testing before completing a certain VPAT since they are aware that vendors may include incorrect information in their VPAT ACRs. As a result, these consumers tend to give much more weight to VPAT testing and completion performed by parties other than the internal teams of the businesses that own the specific ICT product.
Although the vendor of an ICT product is responsible for ensuring VPAT compliance, many VPAT documents provided by vendors have a tendency to be erroneous and of low quality.
Buyers have openly described a good number of the VPATs vendors provide them with as frequently being comical and seeming to be subject to ridicule in the Section 508 offices of the federal government agencies. They argue that the poor information offered in the majority of VPAT ACRs ranges from being grossly inadequate to being absurdly ignorant and brutally incorrect.
While some of the VPAT document submissions appear to have been completed by teams from the marketing department, others appear to have been completed by someone in a rush. You should work with a skilled VPAT compliance third party
to create the VPAT document for your products if you want to prevent your VPAT ACR from being viewed in this way. Incorrectly filling out a VPAT can also lead to fines and penalties. The following are further justifications for hiring a third-party specialist to complete your VPAT:
A significant amount of the data needed for an accurate VPAT is of a highly technical nature. It also calls for thorough familiarity with Section 508, accessibility, and the particular clauses covered in the VPAT document.
If a vendor chooses to use internal staff to complete their VPAT, the staff might not have the necessary expertise in accessibility or the understanding of Section 508 to be able to do it appropriately. If your in-house team lacks Section 508 and accessibility knowledge, use a third party to complete your VPATs.
Completing the VPAT demands a level of clarity that assures the delivery of impartial and objective submissions. Complete and truthful disclosures of the targeted product’s degree of compliance with the accessibility standards must be made for each provision of the template.
Also bear in mind that the majority of federal government personnel to whom you desire to submit your VPAT ACR have dealt with several VPAT ACRs and will not be duped by VPATs that lack the necessary technical specifications. To accurately complete your VPAT, therefore, you can benefit from third parties who specialize in VPAT and have acquired a lot of skill in filling out successful VPAT ACRs.
A thorough VPAT testing of the targeted product against the specified accessibility requirements is necessary to provide the basis for the information you offer in your VPAT ACR. VPAT audits involving internal teams are likely to miss several significant barriers to access that an unbiased outside party conducting the audit could quickly and easily identify.
If you want an honest review of the accessibility status of your product, a party that has a wealth of experience in assessing accessibility issues will provide you with the know-how you need to flag out any possible accessibility challenges in your product. Once they have audited your product, they can then provide you with a properly filled VPAT ACR based on the findings of their audit.
A third party will give you advice on how to address the accessibility problems detected in your product in addition to conducting a VPAT assessment and completing your VPAT ACR. This is due to the likelihood that they dealt with comparable accessibility issues while performing their duties for other clients, which may have increased their depth of knowledge regarding how to handle a range of accessibility issues in products.
ADA Compliance Pros has helped many businesses create and update their VPATs, and helped them win the coveted federal government contracts to supply their ICT products. You can benefit from this wealth of experience and expertise by calling them at (626) 486-2201 or by clicking here to discuss completing your VPAT.