VPAT Certificationis essential to get through the procurement process by federal agencies. According to US Law, federal agencies must prohibit discrimination based on disability. Therefore, when a federal agency or a firm that is funded by the federal government procures Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products, they must confirm Section 508 compliance of the vendor.

Businesses can declare their 508 compliance through the VPAT report. Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which is a civil rights law. According to the definition, the federal government must procure ICT products from a legally compliant vendor.

This is the reason the demand for VPAT testing tools increases during March and Aprilwhen the fiscal year ends and the government searches for vendors to create new contracts.

Although VPAT certification is only mandatory for vendors that work with federal agencies, businesses from the private sector have also recognized the importance of digital accessibility. To put it simply, regardless of the clientele, you must get the VPAT certification. Wondering how to get one? Keep on reading.

What is VPAT compliance?

VPAT standards for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. The template can be used to test your ICT offerings against the framework provided in the digital accessibility laws.

As it was mentioned earlier, federal agencies or those who get funding from the federal government legally abide by VPAT testing. However, VPAT is getting immensely popular among private sector organizations.

VPAT is crucial for companies that deal in:

  • Applications
  • Software
  • Websites
  • Electronic products
  • Documentation

VPAT compliance is not only required for websites or mobile apps, you must be careful about the accessibility standards even if your product contains a PDF document. You need to ensure that the PDF document or other electronic document that you create is accessible by users with hearing loss, impaired vision and cognitive disability.

VPAT is voluntary but why do you need one?

It is suggested not to go with the literal meaning of the word ‘voluntary’ in VPAT. It has become a crucial requirement to survive in the highly competitive market. You get a VPAT certification and build a rapport with a compliant, accountable and preferred vendor.

Moreover, VPAT compliance protects you from the risk of lawsuits. You test your websites and steer clear of digital accessibility violations.

Putting efforts into digital accessibility is also helpful to strengthen your online presence. Your website would rank at the top of search engines if you spend time identifying and removing the accessibility barriers from your ICT products.

VPAT is also helpful for businesses to increase their revenues. Ranking higher and offering accessible solutions to everyone ensures that your customer base increases and you can fulfil the objectives of sales and profitability.

How to get VPAT Security?

It is advised to test your ICT offerings once every 12-16 months. Moreover, during major updates and website revamps, VPAT security is essential.

Here is how you can portray your compliance and steer clear from violation of laws: 

  1. VPAT edition:The first step to attain compliance is to understand the accessibility checklist. There are different editions of VPAT that you can choose to aim for the desired level of compliance. 

For instance, the VPAT checklist helps you declare that your brand supports and fully meets the criteria, supports with exceptions, supports partially or does not support.

To determine the support criteria, you can choose between Section 508 standards, WCAG standards (ADA compliance), EU standards (EN 301 549) or all of the above.

  1. VPAT audit:Once you determine the level of compliance and the accessibility framework, the next important step is to test your offerings. You can use website accessibility checkers but they are not 100% accurate, therefore manual audits are necessary. Experts can test your website and help you identify the problem areas. 
  1. VPAT report:Audit specialists can help you improve the accessibility standards and later you can seek their guidance to generate the VPAT report. 

It requires in-depth knowledge of the digital accessibility domain, therefore it is best to let an expert handle it. Click on the link given below to consult with a VPAT audit expert.