When it comes to accessibility have you ever found yourself in the following situations?
- You wanted to make your site accessible but you didn't have the money
- You just finished a web site or application and then found out that it is not accessible or Section 508 compliant
- You thought a site was accessible and you found out that it really wasn't
- You were told that your web application needs to be Section 508 compliant by a certain date and you didn't have the time to fix it
These are all valid issues, and you are not the only one facing them. But once this is the case, it does not mean that you need to forget about accessibility as it is. There is another way to go around it, and not only to make your site accessible or to bring it to legal compliance, but to show your commitment and willingness to work on it.
Your company has developed a great product which you plan to position for selling to the U.S. Federal Government. Your product is on the GSA schedule, and now you are ready to bid for government contracts, or expecting the purchase orders.
But have you thought about accessibility to people with disabilities? Do you know if your product is Section 508 compliant?
When you create your Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), it is your chance to let procurement agents know in detail about the accessibility of your product, and show how you differ from your competition. Often times, when your competition offers similar functionality, Section 508 compliance itself can be the only deciding factor. In this article, I will show you how to put together a VPAT which effectively communicates the accessibility of your product. In addition, you can also view and download a blank VPAT that you can fill out yourself.
It is not widely known that a government procurement procedure includes checking for Section 508 compliance. Section 508 requires accessibility for people with disabilities when the Federal Government develops, procures, maintains and uses products. If a product does not comply with this legislation, in most circumstances it is automatically disqualified. If you were still able to sell products to the government which were not Section 508 compliant, most likely the procurement process was not properly administered.
Often times we hear the phrase "Section 508" in connection with accessibility or disabilities. In this article I would like to briefly explain what it is, who should pay attention to it, provide some information about compliance, and the Future of Section 508. At the end of the article you will find links if you are looking for further information.