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:
- VPAT 2.4 Rev 508: Revised Section 508 standards
- VPAT 2.4 Rev EU: EN 301 549
- VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1)
- VPAT 2.4 INT: Incorporates all three of the above standards.
Voluntary Product Accessibility templates for Section 508 & WCAG conformance are available for download on the ITI website: https://www.itic.org/policy/accessibility/vpat .
Do I need a VPAT?
You’ll need a completed VPAT if you plan to sell products / services directly to the Federal government. Also, organizations that receive Federal funding are required to ensure that products purchased using Federal funds are accessible for Assistive technology users.
Also, many states and universities now require a VPAT® when using state funds to purchase information and communication technology (ICT). For more information about state accessibility standards, please visit the Section 508 website: https://www.section508.gov/manage/laws-and-policies/state/ .
We recommend that businesses that sell products or services to a diverse market invest in developing a Comprehensive Accessibility Report (a completed VPAT) to help buyers understand the accessibility features and limitations of their products.
What type of VPAT® is right for my business /organization?
The choice of format for the Voluntary Product Accessibility template would depend on a number of factors including:
- Business jurisdiction / location.
- Location of markets where products/services are offered.
- Type of client (i.e., government agency, business, non-profit organization), etc.
Here is a breakdown of our recommendations:
- VPAT 2.4 Rev 508 – suitable for businesses and agencies that are required to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Revised Standard). This would include businesses/agencies that receive federal funds.
- VPAT 2.4 Rev EU – suitable for companies doing business in the European Union (EN 301 549), or with a significant business presence in the EU.
- VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG – suitable for businesses looking to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 & WCAG 2.1). This would include retailers and other businesses looking to comply with ADA Title III.
- VPAT 2.4 INT – suitable for businesses and agencies looking to comply with Section 508, WCAG, and EU accessibility standards.
Most of our clients operate in the United States and use the revised Section 508 and revised WCAG VPAT formats.
What is the process to secure a VPAT?
If you have an accessibility expert in house, you can simply download the appropriate VPAT template from the ITI website and complete it using accessibility information that your team has compiled through testing and development of your website or app.
If you do not have an accessibility expert in-house, we recommend completing a formal conformance evaluation of your website / app to assess compatibility of your product with assistive technology devices. A conformance evaluation involves testing your product with both automated and manual tools (including a screen reader) to verify and document conformance with Section 508 and/or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
At Aurora, we can assist you with a formal accessibility conformance evaluation of your product/service, and accessibility documentation of accessibility compliance (including a completed VPAT / Accessibility Conformance Report).
Need help with a Voluntary Accessibility Template? Please contact us or request a quote today.