Ensuring Inclusivity: The Role of Hardware Accessibility Audits in Tech

5 min read

What is a hardware accessibility audit?


Hardware accessibility audit refers to the assessment of hardware using the appropriate Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to test the hardware’s conformity to the applicable accessibility requirements and establish the barriers that may exist and which reduce the access and participation of people with disabilities in using them and the systems associated with them, as well as measures that could be taken to eliminate the barriers.


A hardware accessibility audit requires an in-depth evaluation of accessibility hardware to ensure it is accessible to all, including people with disabilities. Hardware accessibility certification that follows a comprehensive audit of the hardware’s accessibility ought to be prioritized by organizations and businesses so as to ensure accessibility isn’t just a one-time task, but something that is continuous.


Ensuring Inclusivity: The Role of Hardware Accessibility Audits in Tech


The difference between a hardware accessibility audit and hardware accessibility testing is that while the accessibility audit assesses the entire hardware and leads to the development of a comprehensive report, hardware accessibility testing focuses on a limited aspect of the hardware or a given application scope.


In a hardware accessibility audit, an accessibility expert reviews the hardware and highlights any accessibility issues associated with the hardware, whereas during hardware accessibility testing, users of the hardware who have disabilities are facilitated to complete common tasks undertaken using the hardware while a moderator notes all the challenges they may experience using the hardware.


Some of the common types of hardware that require accessibility auditing include hardware assistive devices like specialized keyboards and mice, as well as mouth sticks, heads wands, button switches, and sip and puff switches for people who cannot use their hands to operate a computer.


The importance of hardware accessibility audits


  • Isolating hardware that can be used by people with different types of disabilities

Performed by qualified accessibility experts, hardware accessibility audits use hardware VPAT to document the accessibility issues in a business’ or organization’s hardware for purposes of 508 compliant remediation to enhance their accessibility. This usually culminates in the tagging of all hardware equipment and serial numbering it so that it is clear which hardware could be used by people with different kinds of disabilities. The key data derived from the audit is then recorded and stored in a master database for reference and future auditing purposes.


  • Hardware accessibility, inventorying, and management

Undoubtedly, hardware accessibility auditing is an essential component of any company’s asset accessibility management. When performed correctly and on a scheduled basis, the audits can help maximize value from assets and deliver the best returns to stakeholders, including users with disabilities, due to efforts to make them accessible to all users.


For instance, by replacing slow or end-of-support equipment and making it accessible to all users, you can save time and hassle early on while ensuring that people with different types of disabilities are able to use them.


  • Operational and economic benefits

From an operational perspective, hardware VPAT testing or audits offer an informed and nuanced view into whether or not new hardware can be procured. An assessment of the existing hardware and the existing ICT infrastructure helps to plan new hardware accessibility initiatives and understand how everything will get connected for purposes of increased accessibility when the system is put into use and when the various hardware components will die for retirement.


  • Reduction of business costs

Hardware accessibility audits can also assist in significantly reducing the costs of technology in a business in the long term. Its focus on inclusive asset use and management helps to calculate value and establish where hidden costs may lie. The financial benefits of a hardware accessibility audit include avoiding repeat purchases of equipment, identifying which of the existing hardware can be repurposed, and getting an immediate view of the overall accessibility of an organization’s technology.


  • Maintenance, security, and compliance

Hardware accessibility audits tend to put preventive maintenance plans into action. By enabling quick identification of accessibility issues in any hardware item, it also aids in quick resolution of the overall accessibility issues in an organization’s tech sector.


On the security front, a hardware accessibility audit can alert you to the security vulnerabilities as well as the dangers the hardware could cause to users with disabilities. This proactive approach is vital for mitigating serious risks in a time-bound manner.


Hardware accessibility audits also help to ensure that the tech sector meets the standards of compliance specific to the industry. Additionally, the associated process also considers how the hardware conforms to the established hardware VPAT testing requirements, which enhances compliance with 508 accessibility.


Need help with hardware VPAT testing?


A hardware accessibility audit is worth the time and energy investment because it assures you that you are always empowered by accessible and high-quality tech systems and industry best practices. To realize these benefits for your organization or business, you can try out the services of hardware VPAT testing experts like ADACP, on whose expertise you can rely to optimize your tech infrastructure and ensure smooth, secure, and efficient operations. You can contact ADACP at (626) 486-2201 to schedule a free consultation.

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