What is a VPAT?
VPAT, which is an acronym for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is a self-disclosing generic document template that businesses use as a prototype when generating accessibility conformance reports (ACRs), which show compliance with the Revised Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, for their electronic information and technology (EIT) products or services.
ACRs clearly state the accessibility standards that a company’s products or services meet. It also provides warnings to users of the products or services about any accessibility challenges they may encounter while using the products or services.
What is VPAT certification?
VPAT certification is the evaluation of how accessible a particular EIT product or service is according to Section 508 Accessibility Standards. It involves detailing the various aspects of Section 508 requirements and how the EIT product or service offered by a vendor supports them.
VPAT certification gives potential customers of EIT products and services a sense of the impact the products or services might have on people with disabilities.
Buyers of EIT products and services rely on accurate VPAT certification to determine how accessible the EIT products and services offered for procurement are and where any potential accessibility deficiencies exist. This enables them to make effective decisions about the products and services they can procure so as to best deliver accessibility as envisaged under Section 508.
VPAT accessibility is required by some buyers, especially the federal government and its agencies, before a purchase of an EIT product or service is made.
The importance of VPAT certification for businesses
Compliance with the established accessibility standards, whether they relate to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Section 508, is a legal necessity. If your business does not comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508, and other accessibility standards, they can attract lawsuits and financial penalties.
Avoiding the consequences of accessibility non-compliance is not the only motive behind businesses prioritizing VPAT accessibility. The following are some more significant advantages that accessibility can provide to a business:
- Working with the federal government and its agencies
If you wish to work for or provide any services to any federal organization, you must be VPAT certified. A business's ability to convince federal agencies to buy its EIT goods and services will be enhanced by a correctly filled-out and complete VPAT.
- Enhancing the quality of products and services
During the VPAT audits that precede VPAT certification, all the features of a product or service are assessed to flag out any existing barriers to accessibility. This is important in helping the business amend the features that have accessibility challenges, which, in turn, enhances the quality of the products and services.
- Tailored compliance services
Due to VPAT certification, a business is able to clearly understand the accessibility issues that it should work on to make its product or service accessible. This is important because it enables the business to undertake targeted work aimed at improving the features with accessibility issues.
These targeted compliance efforts help the business to save time and resources that could have been used if the accessibility challenges were not flagged out during the VPAT certification process.
Need help with VPAT certification?
You can check your EIT product for ADA or VPAT compliance by calling (626) 486-220 to discuss VPAT certification with an accessibility expert. If you want to test your website for accessibility, click here to start a free accessibility check.