What is VPAT Accessibility? Why is it Important?

Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT accessibility documents product accessibility to the Section 508 standards. Learn about it in detail.

Have you ever needed to ensure your products or services complement digital accessibility?

Different standards define the accessibility of any business’s information and communication technologies. The digital accessibility of ICT can be shown by different methods to the customers or respective regulating authorities. One such format offering digital accessibility for the ICT is the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT accessibility document.

Digital accessibility is a need of modern businesses. Any VPAT report includes accessibility requirements specifically applicable to the product and the product’s conformance levels to these guidelines. So today, let us know about the VPAT and the different digital accessibility services in detail. We’ll start with a quick definition.

What is VPAT accessibility?

VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is a document that vendors and manufacturers of information and communication technology (ICT) products can use to describe how their products conform to the accessibility standards outlined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998.

The different Information and Communication Technology products require an accessibility confirmation report called Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT. It defines the product’s conformation to Revised 508 Standards. Hence, it covers all aspects of these IT products standards.

The Information Technology Industry Council or ITI allows VPAT in four different editions, which include the following:

  1. VPAT 2.4Rev EU (February 2020)-It focuses on the European Union’s accessibility requirements for European ICT product procurement.
  1. VPAT 2.4Rev 508 (February 2020)-It focuses on the US Federal accessibility standards.
  1. VPAT 2.4Rev WCAG (February 2020)-It focuses on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.
  1. VPAT 2.4Rev INT (February 2020)– It is the overall compilation of the three standards. VPAT 2.4Rev EU (February 2020), VPAT 2.4Rev 508 (February 2020), and VPAT 2.4Rev WCAG (February 2020).

Who can create VPAT?

The next important point about creating the VPAT accessibility report is who can create them. 

The company’s internal accessibility team or third-party external services can create special VPAT reports. All you need to ensure is the accuracy of this legal document for overall optimized benefits.

Whether the internal accessibility team or the outsourcing team is preparing the VPAT, it must pay full attention to the usability, ICT product details, and functionality.

Importance of VPAT accessibility

After going through the top options for creating VPAT accessibility, time to understand its importance. Some of the top reasons indicating its importance include the following:

  1. Product Confirmation Report

Businesses can use the VPAT document as the product confirmation report defining the company’s accessibility standard. Hence, the businesses offer a complete explanation and documentation of their products.

  1. Confirms the Company’s Awareness

Not all businesses are well aware of the accessibility challenges of their products. Hence, VPAT accessibility confirms that the business is responsible for delivering equal accessibility.

  1. Comparison of Accessibility Conformance

Knowledgeable customers go for the VPAT reports when it comes to the selection of products from different sources. Hence, they get a perfect opportunity to compare the accessibility conformance of different products based on their legal and functional needs. 

  1. Eliminates Detailed Product Brochure Details

Another important part of the VPAT testing is its extended help to the buyers to make informed decisions. There is no need for busy modern customers to go through detailed product manuals. Customers can go for the hassle-free procurement process using the VPAT details.

  1. Quick Recognition of Accessibility Gaps

Businesses can recognize the accessibility gaps in their ICT products. The VPAT report helps customers in making the product accessible, which also helps employees. The workforce can work creating highly accessible products. Hence, the employees can use VPAT to define the possible accessibility gaps and design the products accordingly.

  1. Support Sales

It is easy for businesses offering ICT products to boost their sales using VPAT. Customers prefer the digital accessibility services offered by companies when making their decision. A well-researched and accurate VPAT report is key to increasing overall product sales.

  1. Helps Maintain Compliances

ICT companies, when unable to establish accessibility standards, can face a lawsuit according to the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Hence, these companies give importance to VPAT to prevent compliance issues at regional levels. Further, it helps maintain the company’s brand and worth among the audience.

  1. Defines Overall Success and Challenges of Product

Last but not least benefit of VPAT is its overall details about the product. The businesses, employees, and customers can go through the detailed success and challenges of the product for a better understanding.

Concluding Thoughts

Hence, it is easy to understand the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT accessibility. It is an essential document created by the Information Technology Industry Council or ITIC. It relates to support documentation, electronic content, hardware, and software. It is important to create these documents and their associated benefits. Many businesses can go for accessibility experts or in-house digital accessibility services.

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