What is VPAT Accessibility and How is it Used?

5 min read

What is a VPAT?

A VPAT, or voluntary product accessibility template, is a standardized prototype document that a manufacturer or vendor of an information and communication technology (ICT) product or service fills out to demonstrate how closely the product or service complies with the established accessibility standards.

The VPAT was developed in 2001 by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) in order to strengthen compliance with accessibility requirements by establishing a foundation on which the general problem of matching ICT product features could be based.

The VPAT is available in four editions: the WCAG compliance VPAT (WCAG 2.1 or ISO/IEC 40500), the Section 508 compliance VPAT, the European Union’s EN 301 549 compliance VPAT, and the International (INT) VPAT.

 What is VPAT Accessibility and How is it Used?

The criteria and technical requirements for improving web content accessibility for people with disabilities and older people whose abilities fluctuate with age are laid out in the WCAG compliance VPAT. This edition of the VPAT is underpinned by the WCAG guidelines, which offer a standard or common definition for digital material that is accessible.

The Section 508 compliance VPAT details how information and communication technology (ICT) products and services adhere to the revised Section 508 accessibility standards. The WCAG guidelines for accessible web content are also included in this version of the VPAT.

This indicates that if your ICT product or service consists of both hardware and digital content, you do not need to complete separate VPAT Section 508 and WCAG VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACR). Using Section 508 compliance VPAT, you can demonstrate how your digital material is accessible in a single document.

While the INT VPAT is used to document the accessibility of products and services that are publicly available worldwide, the EU's EN 301 459 compliance VPAT is used to do so for products and services that are publicly accessible in Europe.

Both the INT VPAT and the EU’s EN 301 459 compliance VPAT contain the accessibility criteria and technical specifications for accessible digital content, as is also provided in the WCAG compliance VPAT. The three other VPAT editions' technical requirements and accessibility standards are all included in the INT VPAT.


What is VPAT accessibility?

"VPAT accessibility" refers to the inclusive practices and actions associated with the use of a VPAT to identify and remove obstacles that prevent people with disabilities from interacting with and using ICT products and services.

VPAT accessibility, which is also commonly referred to as VPAT certification, begins with understanding the market given the ICT products and services that will be offered for purchase. This understanding helps to identify the correct VPAT edition to use during the rest of the VPAT certification processes.

For instance, if a company's owners want to persuade federal agencies to buy their products or services, they will base their VPAT certification on the Section 508 compliance VPAT.

Choosing the proper accessibility VPAT, conducting the VPAT audit, completing the VPAT form to produce the VPAT accessibility conformance report (ACR), and making the VPAT ACR accessible are all essentials of VPAT accessibility or certification.

How VPAT accessibility is espoused

VPAT accessibility is espoused by leading ICT businesses for the following reasons:

  • Exhibiting how committed they are to accessibility.
  • Boosting the credibility of the business or organization as well as the reputation of their brands
  • Increasing the chances of winning bids to supply ICT products and services to organizations such as the federal agencies and the private corporations committed to accessibility
  • Identifying the accessibility flaws in ICT products or services and supporting improvement of the products or services
  • Procurement of customized accessibility support services.

Need help with VPAT accessibility?

VPAT accessibility involves cutting through complex technical stuff and helping to position a business’ or organization’s ICT product or service at the top of the lists for the award of contracts to supply ICT products or services. It therefore requires experienced hands to maneuver through the complexity to achieve the desired outcomes.

Working with an experienced accessibility agency like ADACP will provide you with the calmness you need as you work toward your VPAT certification. When we needed our VPAT certification done at short notice, a friend shared with us ADACP’s number: (626) 486-220, which we called to arrange for a consultation. Right from their free consultations to the completion of the VPAT accessibility processes, it was a great learning experience. We recommend ADACP to you for your VPAT needs!


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