Why VPATs and ACRs Are Very Important For Businesses

  • 4.07.2022
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    The distinction between a VPAT and an ACR

    The distinction between VPATs and ACRs has been a source of misunderstanding for years. It requires clarification. A VPAT, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is a blank template that can be filled out with information about the accessibility of information, communication, and technology (ICT) products and services.

    An ACR, also known as a VPAT ACR in accessibility circles, is a completed VPAT. This means that an ACR is a blank VPAT document that has been completed along with the other details that comprise the completed VPAT report.

    The distinction between a VPAT and an ACR demonstrates that, while the term VPAT dominates the accessibility market, it is frequently technically misused. Many procurement and contracting officials request a VPAT when they actually want a VPAT ACR.

    The importance of a VPAT to businesses

    The VPAT was created in 2001 by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) in collaboration with the General Services Administration, the United States government’s central procurement office, to address the general issues surrounding matching the features of ICT products and services to Section 508 accessibility requirements.

    It was originally intended as a tool for vendors to document the Section 508 compliance of their ICT products and services, as well as to aid government market research on ICT with accessible features. It acts as a checklist to ensure that digital products and services comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Section 508 requires the federal government to acquire, develop, use, and maintain ICT that is accessible to people with disabilities, regardless of whether they work for the government.

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      Here’s why a VPAT is important to businesses:

      1. Facilitates them to work with the federal and federally funded organizations

      The VPAT is required for any company that wants to work with the federal government, federal government agencies, or federally funded organizations, including those that provide services to them. Because the VPAT will assist businesses in understanding the accessibility features sought in an ICT product or service, it will encourage them to work toward achieving them in order to impress contracting and procurement officials in these organizations and persuade them to work with the businesses.

      1. Identification of pertinent accessibility issues

      When filling out a VPAT, a company must mention all of the features that are missing. This allows the business to self-assess, making it easier to identify accessibility issues in their ICT product or service. This helps businesses decide which features to include in their products or services in order to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

      1. Customized 508 compliance services

      A VPAT enables businesses to understand which features are required for an accurate and complete VPAT, allowing them to prepare terms of reference for engaging accessibility service providers even if they lack accessibility knowledge themselves. This enables businesses to reduce compliance service time and increase the profitability of their products and services.

      The importance of ACRs for businesses

      ACRs are important for businesses because of the following reasons:

      1. Conformance with the anti-discrimination legal requirements

      ACRs show that a company is serious about and committed to anti-discrimination and accessibility legal requirements. They also provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to engage with their disabled customers by emphasizing relevant information and details.

      Generally, published ACRs are required for compliance with anti-discrimination and accessibility laws. Businesses that want to be listed on the federal government’s Vendor Accessibility Resource Center, for example, must provide a link to their online VPAT report or ACR on Section 508 compliance.

      1. Engagement of customers with disabilities 

      An ACR could impress people with disabilities by demonstrating how you are going above and beyond your legal obligations to improve access to your product or service. ACRs also contain information that businesses can use to engage with the market of people with disabilities as loyal customers.

      1. Innovation due to diverse ideas that create new opportunities

      ACRs encourage business innovation in order to produce the best products and services that impress people with disabilities and organizations concerned about accessibility. This sparks innovation competition among businesses as they consider inclusive designs, accessibility, and inclusion. This encourages businesses to hire and retain a diverse range of thinkers, including talented people with disabilities.

      When people with disabilities join business teams, they bring their unique perspectives on problems and approaches to solving them. Non-diverse groups approach problem solving and innovation in the same way and reach the same conclusions. In contrast, studies show that diverse groups bring a wide range of methods, experiences, ways of thinking, and approaches to the table.

      The diversity fostered by ACRs ensures that businesses have more options to choose from, allowing them to reach consensus on the best ideas. Indeed, leading economists, demographers, and research experts agree that ACRs promote social diversity, which boosts innovation and financial results.

      1. Ensuring that no one is left behind

      ACRs encourage businesses to embrace an inclusive culture. They teach businesses that every design decision has the potential to include or exclude others. ACRs ensure that business product designs are accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability, or background, by being based on informed accessibility standards. Businesses ultimately benefit everyone.

      1. Underpins outperforming business brands

      ACRs enable businesses develop a sense of brand accessibility. They are able to provide information in a consistent and open manner, ensuring access to all and making the business brand responsive and reachable to all members of society.

      Businesses can welcome customers into a conversation with their brand by opening their doors. This means that customers will have a positive experience with the company’s products and services, allowing them to form emotional connections with the brand. Customers today want to do business with companies that prioritize their customers’ needs over profit and take pride in doing so. ACRs can help with this.

      Get more information on and help with the VPAT and ACRs

      Connect with us for VPAT ACR examples as well as your VPAT audit needs. We are also available to share with you more resources and help with the importance of the VPAT and ACRs for your business. Click this link or call (626) 486-2201 to start the conversation.