What Are VPAT Assessments?
VPAT assessments are audits performed to determine the levels of accessibility of a digital product, app, or website in comparison to the supporting accessibility standards and guidelines anchored in the four editions of the voluntary product accessibility guidelines (VPAT): VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG 2.0/2.1, VPAT 2.4 Rev 508, VPAT 2.4 Rev EU, and VPAT 2.4 Rev INT.
VPAT assessments are crucial to VPAT certification because they serve as the foundation for accurate VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs), which are required as part of procurement processes by federal entities, educational institutions, and big enterprises.
What Is VPAT Certification?
VPAT certification is the ecosystem of processes or actions navigated toward measuring, documenting, and disseminating information about the conformity of an electronic and information technology (EIT) product or service to the existing accessibility standards or guidelines, namely, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and 2.1, the Revised Section 508 Standard, and the European Union’s EN 301 549 Accessibility Standard, using the appropriate edition of the VPAT form.
The processes and actions involved in VPAT certification include selecting the correct edition of the VPAT for your VPAT accessibility audits and documentation, conducting VPAT assessments, accurately and completely filling out the appropriate VPAT form, and making the duly completed VPAT ACR accessible to potential buyers of the IET product or services for which the VPAT certification was undertaken.
As you can see, VPAT certification does not comprise a certificate with a “pass” or “fail” rating. It is also not carried out by a recognized certification authority. If a prospective customer of your EIT product or service requests a VPAT certificate, they are most likely requesting the product or service’s duly completed VPAT ACR.
Given the lack of a certified authority for VPAT certification, you should make every effort to offer as much factual accessibility information about your EIT product or service as feasible. This is due to the fact that providing inaccurate or incomplete information will result in your company’s brand being disregarded, as well as the loss of business contract opportunities with federal and non-governmental organizations committed to VPAT accessibility, and you may face legal action for providing false information.
Because VPAT accessibility is a voluntary undertaking with substantial ramifications for any business supplying EIT products or services, EIT businesses must work hard to achieve it. The VPAT assessment component of the accessibility should be given special attention. This is because if it is not handled with care and knowledge, it may result in accessibility findings that result in an incorrect VPAT ACR.
Help With Carrying Out VPAT Assessments
When undertaking your VPAT assessments, put the following factors into consideration:
1. Doing it yourself or hiring a third-party consultant
Because VPAT certification is a voluntary decision and there is no certifying authority to execute the process for you, you have the option of doing it yourself or hiring a third-party VPAT assessment specialist.
Many procurement departments will not accept VPAT ACRs with internal connected VPAT assessments. This is due to the fact that such VPAT ACRs have frequently been found to be insufficiently objective.
While you are free to conduct VPAT assessments and fill up VPAT forms for your EIT products or services using internal resources, you should be aware that such certifications may be limited in terms of the consumers who accept them. The best solution is to hire a third-party consultant.
2. Choose the correct VPAT edition to use
If you want to market your EIT product or service to federal organizations, your VPAT assessments should be based on the accessibility criteria and technical standards contained in the VPAT 2.4 Rev 508 edition of the VPAT form.
If it’s a website, web-based tool, or app, your VPAT assessment should be based on the WCAG as outlined in the VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG 2.0/2.1 edition.
If you intend to sell your EIT product or service in Europe, make sure the VPAT assessments are guided by the criteria and technical specifications in the VPAT 2.4 Rev EU edition of the VPAT document.
If you want your product or service to be available worldwide, utilize the VPAT 2.4 Rev INT edition of the VPAT template. This is due to the fact that it incorporates all of the criteria and technical specifications from the previous three iterations of the VPAT template.
3. Product or service accessibility testing
Ensure that the product or service for which you want a VPAT ACR is tested by someone who is experienced not only with the product or service in question, but also with the appropriate accessibility criteria, technical specifications, and applicable regulations. Having someone who has performed VPAT assessments for successful firms would allow you to benefit from their experience in providing VPAT accessibility for those businesses.
4. Offering the product or service’s prototype for prospective user testing
Before releasing your EIT product or service to the market, it is a good idea to select potential buyers from a subset of the anticipated market and ask them to utilize the product or service and provide you with any accessibility issues they may encounter.
This strategy could be utilized during VPAT assessments to solicit feedback from potential product or service consumers. You might utilize the input to make the product or service better.
Need Help With Undertaking Quality VPAT Assessments?
The effort you put in during the VPAT assessment to determine how your product or service fits the criteria and technical specifications provided in the appropriate version of the VPAT form determines the quality of your VPAT ACR.
You can get help with VPAT assessments and the completion of VPAT ACRs by calling (626) 486-2201 for assistance. Consultations are always free!