Helpful tips about a VPAT document
A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document created by the developer or vendor of an information and communication technology (ICT) product or service. It describes how well the product or service complies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act's accessibility standards.
A VPAT document assists ICT product or service buyers to make informed decisions before purchasing the product or service. It specifically assists them in:
- Consider the level of accessibility compliance of products or services.
- Compare the compliance for similar products.
- Choose the product or service that best meets the accessibility standards as well as the functional and legal requirements of the organization.
- Plan for equally effective accessible products or services when the desired accessible products or services are unavailable.
Why have a VPAT document
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires the federal government and all of its agencies to make information and communication technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities. It requires all products, services, and technology used by federal employees to be compliant.
That means if your product, service, or technology is used by anyone who is directly or indirectly funded by the federal government, you are federally funded by extension, and the regulations may apply to you. This demonstrates that if your organization or company is not Section 508 compliant, or if you are not providing a VPAT document that properly outlines the compliance of your products or services, you are very likely losing business opportunities.
How a VPAT document helps
A VPAT document can help your organization or company to provide a comprehensive analysis of your compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act's accessibility standards.
The document answers your "what is VPAT accessibility?" questions succinctly by outlining key accessibility requirements. It also provides a framework for you to outline the level of compliance and provide explanatory remarks.
The document can be an important part of the RFP process for any organization, public or private, where accessibility is important. Because many organizations are increasingly using the VPAT document to evaluate vendor solutions and services during their procurement processes, it is beneficial for your company to understand how these organizations conduct their accessibility assessments as well as what constitutes a good VPAT document.
A VPAT audit performed by VPAT testing professionals such as ADA Compliance Pros can provide you with insights to help you improve your Section 508 compliance as well as refine your VPAT document. They can also provide you with an example of a VPAT document.
How often to renew your VPAT
To avoid losing business opportunities, ensure that your VPATs are constantly refined. As a start, make sure your VPAT is 2.0 or higher. This is due to the fact that Section 508 was updated in 2017, and accessibility for ICT products or services such as websites and mobile apps is now measured using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 criteria. That means that VPAT documents created prior to 2017 may be out of date if the product or service has since been updated.
However, there is no set time for renewing your VPAT document; in general, you must renew it every 12 months. Significant features are released at this time. By this point, the user interface would have undergone significant changes that would necessitate updating your VPAT document.
A VPAT document that is more than 12 months old is generally considered unrepresentative of the current product unless the product has not been updated in 12 months.
Need help with your VPAT renewal?
Having the right partners assist you with VPAT renewals allows you to focus on your core business while the partners work to identify areas of your VPAT that require renewal. Click here to contact ADA Compliance Pros, who have been extremely helpful in assisting various types of businesses in maintaining their VPATs. They can also be reached at (626) 486-2201. You can also see an example of VPAT by clicking here.