Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) Explained
One way to expose accessibility features of your product is to create a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to detail how you comply with the federal Section 508 standards. This way, you save valuable research time for interested agencies, and get much closer to sell your product to companies and government agencies who require accessibility. While VPATs are currently used to describe Section 508 compliance, any accessibility standards and guidelines, such as WCAG can be applied in a similar format to the VPAT.
Why using a VPAT
- Save valuable time for procurement specialists
- Sell faster to the federal government
- One more way to advertise your product
- Show your commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities
During the federal procurement process, procurement specialists will have to determine if your product meets the Section 508 requirements. It could be a lengthy process if your product has to be thoroughly evaluated before every single government purchase. When you create a VPAT, procurement specialists can easily review the accessibility of your product, speed up the procurement process and get back to you with specific questions. Since the VPAT, as its name suggests is voluntary, it is not required by legislation. Therefore, you cannot be held responsible for the validity of the content, but it is your best interest to provide as much information as you can.
How to write a VPAT?
Also, on this site, you can read more about creating a VPAT, where you will be able to download your on blank template to work with. Based on this template you can create your own. Make sure you address all accessibility features of your product and relate it to Section 508. In some cases, certain features of your product might not be Section 508 compliant. It is a good practice to list the non-compliant issues, which will save you time on the long run. In order to ensure your commitment to Section 508 compliance, you can address how you are planning to make the necessary fixes in your product roadmap.
Even Grounds also hosts a VPAT directory where you can learn about the accessibility commitment of other companies.
Writing VPATs is a good practice and creates a win-win situation for all. It speeds up the procurement process, promotes your company's products, and creates awareness for accessibility for people with disabilities.