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What is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template?

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (or VPAT®) is the industry standard format for documenting accessibility conformance of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services. The VPAT report format was developed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and is offered free-of-charge for businesses and organizations looking to document accessibility conformance of their products.

There are four versions of the Voluntary Product Accessibility template:

Voluntary Product Accessibility templates for Section 508 & WCAG conformance are available for download on the ITI website: .

Everything You Need to Know about VPATs

What is Video Captioning?

Video captioning is the process of converting the audio track of a video to onscreen text. Captioning provides interpretative information for music, speech, and other audio.

Video captions allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the audio track in video and multimedia presentations. Synchronized captions are required for all prerecorded audio content to ensure compliance with conformance with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0.

There are two types of captioning that conform with WCAG 2.0:

Closed Captions

Closed Captions for video and multimedia content include embedded subtitles. Closed captions (CC) require a user agent which supports captions, but can be exported to transcript format, and indexed by search engines.

Open Captions

Open captions are embedded in actual multimedia content and cannot be separated or exported from videos. They do not require a user agent which supports captions, but can degrade in quality when videos are compressed.


Google uses speech recognition technology to provide automatic captions for content uploaded to YouTube. This a great feature, in theory, as it allows content developers to provide accessible multimedia content automatically. The problem with auto captions is that no speech recognition technology is perfect, and auto-captions have many grammatical, spelling and other errors that impede accessibility.

To ensure conformance with WCAG 2.0, Aurora recommends human generated captions for all audio and video content.

Get High Quality Captioning for your Videos

Aurora provides quality human transcription and captioning for video and multimedia content.

Why is website accessibility important?

Website accessibility is important for businesses, non-profits, and government agencies alike. An inaccessible website can:

  • Expose your business to potential liability in the form of an ADA lawsuit
  • Jeopardize funding for federal contracts and funding streams
  • Cost you potential customers and sales

Reduce Exposure to Liability

Legal Trends in Website Accessibility

Legal Trends Presentation Screenshot

Legal Trends in Website Accessibility – PDF Format


Law firms are increasingly filing class action suits on behalf of disabled individuals throughout the United States who use the Internet to facilitate their access to goods and services. These individuals have disabilities that include: blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, mobility impairments, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and various federal courts have concluded that businesses which offer goods and services to the public through websites are public accommodations that must comply with the general accessibility mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Beginning in 2006, private litigants and the U.S. Department of Justice began filing or threatening to file legal action based on allegedly inaccessible websites (and eventually also including mobile applications). Here are some notable legal decisions on website accessibility:

Check out a list of other recent settlement agreements

Achieve Compliance with Section 508

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that all federal agencies and companies doing business with the federal government provide equal access to information technology. Recent rule making by the access board (known as the ICT Refresh) requires organizations receiving federal funds to meet WCAG 2.0 priority level AA conformance.

Section 508 was originally enacted to:

  • Eliminate barriers to information technology
  • Create new opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • Encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals

Reach a Wider Audience

When we publish content on the Web that is not accessible, we are excluding one or more groups of people with disabilities from accessing this content.

  • If we publish videos without synchronized captions, we are excluding deaf people from accessing the audio track of our multimedia content.
  • If we publish videos without audio description, we are excluding blind users and people with low vision.
  • For websites that are not usable with a keyboard only, we are excluding blind users who require assistive technology devices (screen readers and braille displays), from accessing and navigating web pages.
  • For images and graphics that do not include alternate text, we are excluding blind users who need alternate text to understand the context and meaning of images.

By creating content that is accessible, we ensure that the greatest number of people can access and use it. For businesses and communities, this means a more inclusive world where people (regardless of ability) can access goods and services, supports, and any other benefits of society.­­­­­­

Accessibility by the Numbers

56.7 Million Number of Americans living with some type of disability (18.7% of the U.S. population)
38.3 Million Number of Americans living with a severe disability (12.6% of the U.S. population)
6601 Number of ADA Title III lawsuits filed in federal court in 2016.

What can you do to protect your business?

Aurora can help you navigate the process of accessibility conformance evaluation, repair, disclosure and maintenance so that you can focus on other things (like your business).

Aurora Accessibility Compliance Solutions

Work with a proven leader in website accessibility compliance solutions, and get on the fast track to achieving your conformance goals.

Why is website performance important?

A Slow Website can Sink your Online Business

Almost half of visitors will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.

Website performance is often overlooked, but is a critical factor in the success of your website. A slow website can have a profound impact on user experience, and impacts your bottom line in a number of ways including: poor performance in search engines, lost visitors, decreased engagement and conversions, and higher advertising costs.

Poor Performance in Search Results

Google uses performance data in its search algorithm – so a slow website can impact your sites page rank, and hurt your placement in search results. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for checking the performance of your website.

Lost Customers and Sales

According to a report by the BBC, almost half of visitors will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. If you’re a retailer, a slow website can hit your bottom line hard. According to Kissmetrics, 79% of shoppers who experience performance problems with a website say that they won’t return.

Increased Costs

If you’re using Google AdWords, a slow website can cost you more to advertise your products and services. In AdWords, Google assigns quality scores for keywords, landing pages, and ad relevance. A slow landing page will impact your quality score, and make your ad less competitive in AdWords auctions. In the long run, you’ll end up paying more to place your ad competitively in search results.

Accelerate Your Website

Aurora provides website performance solutions to help you reach more customers, and increase conversions, engagement and sales.

What is an assistive technology device?

Assistive Technology Industry Association, the premier association for assistive technology solutions providers, defines an assistive technology device as follows:

“Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.”

Assistive technology, as it applies to the web, is any device that augments a user’s ability to use and interact with the web. Some common examples of assistive technology devices include:

Braille Displays

Braille displays convert screen information to braille using electronically actuated pins. Braille displays can show up to 80 characters, and refresh as users navigate the web.

Screen Readers

Screen readers convert digital text and other data into synthesized speech. Screen reader users commonly use a keyboard only to navigate pages on the web. Some common screen readers used by people with low vision include: JAWS, NVDA, and Voiceover.

Screen Magnifier

A screen magnifier alters the graphical output of a computer to zoom parts of the screen. Screen magnifiers are useful for people with low vision, color blindness, and other visual impairments.

More about website accessibility

What is website accessibility?

An accessible website is fully compatible with assistive technology devices including screen readers, braille displays, screen magnifiers, and more. Accessible websites work seamlessly with these technologies to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full access to information, goods and services on the web.

Inaccessible websites can be difficult or impossible for assistive technology users to access, and can expose your business to legal liability in the form of an ADA lawsuit.

What is the trend towards Website Accessibility about?

Law firms are increasingly filing class action suits on behalf of disabled individuals throughout the United States who use the Internet to facilitate their access to goods and services. These individuals have disabilities that include: blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, mobility impairments, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these.

What standards are available for website accessibility assessment?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) to help website owners and developers meet the challenges of developing accessible web content for assistive technology users. Learn more about the WCAG: .

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are based on four basic principles of accessibility. These require websites to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust:





Common Barriers to Website Accessibility

Properly designed websites and web tools can be used by people with disabilities. However, currently many sites and tools are developed with accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some people to use them. Below are just a few examples:

  • Images missing alternate text – alternate text provides supplemental information about the context and content of images for blind users.
  • Website navigation systems not usable with a keyboard only – screen reader users and people with motor impairments cannot use a mouse to navigate webpages. The WCAG requires that web page navigation systems be usable with a mouse only.
  • Videos missing captions – synchronized captions are a text alternative for the audio track in a video or multimedia presentation. Captions allow deaf and hearing-impaired people to access the audio portion of video content.
  • Webpages missing semantic structure – headings, lists, and other webpage markup are essential to help assistive technology users understand the structure of webpages.

One or more of these accessibility barriers could make your site difficult or impossible to use for people with disabilities. By removing barriers to accessibility, you can open your website to a much wider audience, attract new customers, and reduce exposure to legal liability.

Benefits of an Accessible Website

Accessible websites are fully compatible with assistive technology devices including: screen readers, braille displays, and text-only browsers. By making your website accessible to assistive technology users and people with disabilities, you will:

Why is website accessibility important?

Website accessibility is important for businesses, non-profits, and government agencies alike.

Aurora’s CEO Appears on Bytemarks Cafe

President and CEO, Trip Rems, appeared on Hawaii Public Radio’s Bytemarks Cafe on July 12, 2023. The program highlighted assistive technology and some of the challenges in making digital content accessible for people with disabilities. The program was hosted by Burt Lum of Hawaii Public Radio (HPR).

Check out a recording of the program here

12th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thursday, May 18th marks the 12th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

In recognition of the 12th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’ve compiled a short list of resources to help you take the first steps to making your website / digital content accessible for people with disabilities:

Its never too late to take the first step to making your content accessible for people with disabilities. Get started today with a free consultation


Common Website Accessibility Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

As the market for accessibility services becomes flooded with providers offering a quick fix and one-size-fits-all approach to website accessibility, it’s more important than ever to do your homework and make informed decisions. Common accessibility pitfalls include:

  • Relying on quick fixes to address accessibility issues
  • Failure to properly vet the qualifications of development teams
  • Failure to implement recommendations of accessibility experts or to retest websites periodically to verify and document accessibility conformance

Here are some quick tips to avoid common pitfalls, and to ensure that your website works well for assistive technology users.

Beware of Quick Fixes

Today, there are many services and plugins promising a quick fix for website accessibility issues. Many of these services act as overlays, and do not fix underlying accessibility problems including keyboard accessibility, accessibility of non-text content, etc. By failing to address these fundamental issues, overlay solutions can expose website owners to unexpected liability.

In 2022, 575 companies using overlay accessibility solutions were sued for failing to make their websites accessible for assistive technology users (according to UsableNet’s 2022 Year End Report).

Be wary of any fully automated accessibility solutions that promise a quick fix for accessibility compliance. Properly addressing accessibility requires coding your website for accessibility, and testing website pages to ensure accessibility for assistive technology (AT) users.

Choose the Right Developer

When choosing a new developer for your website, it’s important to consider accessibility during the procurement process. This means asking some pointed questions about accessibility including:

  • How long has your company been developing accessible websites?
  • How do you test your websites to ensure that they are accessible for people with disabilities?
  • Do you have accessibility experts on staff (including AT / screen reader users)?
  • Do you provide accessibility audits and certifications for new websites? If yes, what documentation do you provide?

Beware of any companies that exclusively employ automated testing to verify accessibility conformance. Evaluating websites for accessibility requires testing a representative sample of pages with both automated and manual tools (including a screen reader). The W3C’s Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) outlines a comprehensive process to testing and verifying compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0/2.1).

For developers that do provide a guarantee of conformance, it’s important to request documentation of accessibility conformance (including a completed VPAT / accessibility report). A completed VPAT is a technical document that highlights the accessibility features of a website, along with any areas where the website does not conform to WCAG 2.0/2.1.

Hire an Accessibility Expert

If your developer is not able to provide accessibility evaluation / certification services for your website, it’s best to seek professional help to ensure that your website is fully accessible for people with disabilities. Accessibility experts are experienced using assistive technology, and can identify accessibility errors that automated tools would likely miss (i.e. keyboard accessibility problems).

When you consider the additional liability from an inaccessible website, hiring an accessibility expert is a great investment and can help your organization avoid unwanted legal liability, and potential loss of state / federal funding streams.

Ensure that Your Website Remains Compliant

Once your website has been tested for conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0/2/.1), it’s important to ensure that your website remains compliant as new content is added. Here are some recommendations:

  • Ensure that staff are trained in publishing techniques for website accessibility.
  • Conduct regular audits / certification of your website to verify and document conformance.
  • Collect user feedback regarding the accessibility of your website, and proactively address any concerns quickly and efficiently.

At Aurora, we recommend re-certifying your website once per year to ensure conformance with WCAG 2.0 / 2.1. Re-certifying your site allows you to:

  • Identify accessibility issues introduced by new plugins, content, and other new functionality.
  • Provide up-to-date accessibility documentation for your website.


Ensuring that your website works well for people with disabilities requires careful planning, consideration and investment. This includes:

  • Avoiding quick accessibility fixes which do not address underlying accessibility problems.
  • Hiring a developer with an understanding of accessibility concepts and the resources to test and validate website themes and templates for accessibility.
  • Hiring an accessibility expert to test and validate your website for accessibility conformance.
  • Re-certifying your website annually to ensure that your website remains compliant.

By making your website accessible for AT users, you can reach the broadest audience possible, and avoid unexpected legal liability and loss of funding streams.

Need Help?

Aurora provides website accessibility audit, certification and support services. Request an estimate or schedule a free consultation today.


Aurora Design and Consulting Exhibits at the Pacific Rim International Conference

The 38th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity wrapped up on March 7, 2023. Each year the Pac Rim conference attracts educators, policy makers, researchers, consumers and others to Honolulu, Hawaii.

This was the first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic. Aurora Design and Consulting participated as an exhibitor at the conference.

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