In this era of digitally connected world, making sure that technology is accessible to everyone is crucial. Whether you are a business, a developer, or someone working in the space of accessibility, understanding tools like the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) and Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a great first step.
What is VPAT?
A VPAT or the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template is a document that contains information regarding how an information and communication technology ( ICT ) product or service conforms with the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For vendors, providing a VPAT is often necessary for legal compliance, especially when dealing with federal government contracts.
The VPAT template can be downloaded from the ITI website.
Components of a VPAT
A VPAT consists of four main components:
- Introduction: The introduction outlines the details about the product, including its name, version, and contact information for the vendor.
- VPAT Summary Table: The summary table is an overview of how the product complies with the Section 508 standards or other relevant accessibility standards.
- Performance report: The report provides Information on how the product addresses various functional performance criteria, such as input alternatives, time-based media, adaptability, and more.
- Supporting Features: It outlines description of additional features that enhance the accessibility of the product, such as compatibility with assistive technologies, remarks and explanations.
Know more about What is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)?
A point to remember here is that different versions of WCAG are included in different VPAT editions.
- In October 2023, WCAG 2.2 was published and ITI’s included the same in VPAT 2.5 template.
- The 508 edition includes WCAG 2.0
- The EU edition includes WCAG 2.1
- WCAG and International (INT) editions include all the 3 versions of WCAG – 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2.
Based on the WCAG version a product or service is confirming to a suitable VPAT edition should be used for reporting.
What is ACR?
The Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a document that complements the VPAT. Unlike the VPAT that is a self-declaration by vendors, the ACR is an independent assessment – a third-party assessment of the product’s accessibility. It is conducted by accessibility experts or organizations specializing in accessibility evaluations.
ACR adds credibility to the accessibility claims made in the VPAT by providing an external, expert evaluation. The feedback and recommendations from ACR can help vendors enhance the accessibility of their digital products, contributing to continuous improvement.
An interesting read on Should I create a VPAT or ACR for my product?
In a world full of technology, creating a VPAT or an ACR should not be considered a mandate flowing from the law but as an ethical duty. Businesses must regard the VPAT and ACR as indispensable elements of their accessibility policies on digital products that are open to all. Through the adoption of these practices, we can create a digital landscape that truly leaves no one behind.
To get started on how to create a VPAT or an ACR for your product, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org