What is a VPAT?
A VPAT, or voluntary product accessibility template, is a special, unfilled document that provides details and explanations on how information and communication technology (ICT) products and services like software, hardware, and electronic content conform to the Revised 508 standards, the European Union’s EN 301 549 accessibility standards for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
If your business sells ICT products and services, your customers will utilize the VPAT report or accessibility conformance report (ACR) for those products and services to assess their accessibility and whether any barriers to accessibility are present.
Creating a VPAT ACR allows your customers to make more informed decisions when purchasing your products or services. It assists them in understanding how your products and services meet the established accessibility standards and legal requirements, as well as the extent to which your business is functional and in compliance with the established requirements and standards.
Embracing VPAT accessibility shows everyone that your business cares about making its products and services accessible to everyone, which can help you attract business due to your openness in explaining your compliance with the established accessibility requirements via the VPAT ACR.
The VPAT’s ability to provide accessibility compliance details to your customers saves procurement time, positively influencing their purchasing decisions.
Why the VPAT is a game changer in accessibility reporting
The application of the VPAT has assisted both public and private entities in evaluating the conformity of procurable EIT products and services while also allowing businesses to self-report the competence and compliance levels of their digital offerings.
Whereas the VPAT has assisted buyers of EIT products and services in evaluating and analyzing businesses’ conformity commitment, the transparency involved in completing a VPAT ACR, including conducting the accompanying VPAT audit, positively impacts and contributes to businesses’ bottom lines as well as their goals and missions.
A VPAT provides valuable accessibility reporting because everyone who completes it does so within the parameters of the document. The conformity levels can only be classified as “supports,” “partially supports,” “does not support,” or “not applicable.” These are the conformity parameters you will use when completing your VPATs, regardless of how simple or complex your product or service is.
As a manufacturer or vendor, you’ll experience the value of a VPAT right from the time you begin the VPAT accessibility journey involving the selection of the correct VPAT edition to use in documenting the accessibility of your products or services. During this time, you should consider which markets you want to supply your products and services to. As a result, the VPAT aids in broadening your market scope.
During the VPAT audit stage, an organization or business can identify the accessibility gaps and challenges associated with its EIT products and services and work to improve them before releasing them to the market. As a result, the VPAT enables businesses to meet the needs of their buyers without bias.
Some businesses may be hesitant to ensure VPAT accessibility for fear of negatively exposing their products and services to buyers. They should really understand that a VPAT is concerned with the conformance and compliance of a product or service with established standards. As a result, rather than viewing a VPAT negatively, businesses should view it as an overview of challenges, successes, and product efficiency tracking to its buyers.
Need assistance with VPAT accessibility?
If you are still unsure whether your EIT products or services require you to complete VPATs, you can get assistance with additional information or clarifications.
You could start with reviewing a VPAT report based on the one of the accessibility standards and see how a VPAT ACR could help you to introspect about the quality of your products or services.
You can also call us at (626) 486-2201 to schedule a consultation at your leisure. We offer complimentary consultations!