The VPAT, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is an ICT product document that outlines how technology products conform to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
More specifically, the VPAT allows companies to provide documentation and an explanation on the level of compliance of their product. A drafted VPAT becomes a product conformance report which is an example of a company’s accessibility standard. It is important for companies to draft a conformance report because Section 508 requires that any technology used by the federal government be compliant. With the proper compliance documentation, tech products can qualify to be used by any firm directly or indirectly funded by the government. In short, there is a chance that your company is losing money due to the absence of a VPAT.
Additionally, a simple self-audit of a product through a conformance report can be used to hold your company accountable for its accessibility. Consumers can use this to compare and choose the most accessible tech products, adhering to their individual needs. VPATs show consumers that your company cares about accessibility and cares that their products are able to be accessed and used, equally. Conformance reports attract business for your product due to their nature of explaining their compliance to accessibility. Customers can easily check how your product fits their needs without lengthy inquiries through the sales team.
Internally, the conformance report can be used as a means of educating employees of the company on accessibility and as a structure to continually strive to make a product more accessible to everyone. The template is created and provided for free by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and available for download on their website. Included in the template are extensive instructions to assist companies in filling out an accurate report, as well as educating them on the best practices on becoming accessible. These extensive instructions include essential requirements, best practices, and frequently asked questions. It is important to understand that a completed VPAT is not an official accessibility compliance certification, but as an insightful guide to technology users and vendors on how accessible a product is and the areas where it can be improved.
The VPAT is an important document for both companies and consumers for many reasons. The conformance report adds additional value to different products for different reasons.
Due to this, it is incredibly impactful for a company to supply a conformance report for their own educational and socially responsible reasons as well as for the consumers to know that the product they are buying adheres to their own abilities.
Check out RightHear’s VPAT here.
Does your tech product have a VPAT as well?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.