Is a VPAT Mandatory?

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Understanding VPAT 508 Requirements

The phrase “VPAT 508” refers to the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) version for evaluating how well an electronic information technology (EIT) product or service complies with the accessibility requirements of Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.

Under the Revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the federal government and its agencies are required to provide employees and members of the public with disabilities access to information that is comparable to that which is available to others without disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits organizations receiving federal funding from discriminating against people with disabilities, much like Section 508 does. As a result, the EIT products and services that these organizations procure must be just as accessible as those that the federal government purchases.

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) developed the VPAT to enhance the accessibility of EIT products and services.

The ITI-developed VPAT was initially intended as a tool for vendors to demonstrate how their EIT products and services comply with Section 508 and to assist market research on EIT products and services with accessible features by federal government agencies.

Despite the fact that the 1.X original and the current VPAT version of the Section 508 compliance VPAT may have changed from one another, the goals of both have remained the same: to speed up communication between buyers and providers of EIT products and services and cut down on procurement time.

The VPAT: Voluntary of Mandatory?

As the name suggests, VPATs are discretionary. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508 Standards, and the European Union’s EN 301 549 Standards were developed in order to help providers of EIT products and services comply with these existing accessibility standards and guidelines.

The VPAT accessibility conformance report (ACR), which is just the correctly completed VPAT form, is required if you are a vendor and wish to sell or lease your EIT products or services to the federal government or any of its agencies.

Products that have undergone VPAT assessments and are VPAT-certified are what federal government agencies are looking to buy. Your EIT products or services must have accurate and comprehensive VPAT ACRs in order to be supplied to the federal agencies. If your EIT product or service lacks an accurate and properly filled out VPAT, you run the risk of it not being included in government procurement.

While it is entirely up to you whether or not to complete a VPAT for your EIT products or services, failing to do so could result in financial loses for your business. Even if your EIT services or products are comparable to or superior to those of your rivals, you won’t be able to access the federal government market if they aren’t VPAT compliant. Therefore, in order to receive approval to offer your EIT products or services to federal government entities, a VPAT is mandatory.

It makes commercial sense to view VPATs as a necessary condition for your company’s success given that having a VPAT for each of your EIT products or services ensures that the product won’t be barred from any of its potential buyers.

Need help with developing a VPAT ACR?

It is your responsibility to make sure that the information you enter into the VPAT is accurate and clear in order to produce a VPAT for your EIT product or service. This is why it’s beneficial to study a VPAT 2022 example that an accessibility expert has provided and to seek help with VPAT creation from a third party who is an accessibility expert.

Need help developing a VPAT ACR, Call (626) 486-2201 today to discuss with an accessibility expert the creation of a VPAT for your EIT product or service.