What Is VPAT Accessibility?
Are you encountering the term “VPAT accessibility” for the first time and wondering what it relates to? Let’s break it down and review the underlying laws so that you can appreciate its origin, value, and essence as the world we live in increasingly embraces rapid digitalization.
Accessibility is a concept that refers to whether or not everyone, regardless of his or her condition can use a product or service.
By extension, VPAT accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of using a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) to ensure that there are no barriers that prevent people with disabilities from interacting with, and accessing, electronic and information technology (EIT) products or services.
The Nexus Between VPAT Accessibility, Section 508, And ADA Compliance
All EIT products and services in the United States are subject to either the Revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Revised Section 508 applies directly to federal government agencies and all federally funded organizations, whereas the ADA applies to private, non-profit, and commercial businesses.
In reality, the Revised Section 508 and the ADA rely on the Section 508 VPAT principles for determining digital accessibility.
The Section 508 VPAT is the version of the VPAT that serves as the foundation for the Revised Section 508 Accessibility Standard. Manufacturers and sellers that want to participate in federal procurement processes with their EIT products and services must demonstrate VPAT compliance by ensuring their EIT products or services have VPAT reports prepared utilizing the Section 508 VPAT.
Federal agencies procuring digital products and services are guided by the Section 508 VPAT report for the respective product or service to establish the degree to which it conforms to Section 508 and the ADA in comparison to other similar products or services available.
VPAT Accessibility And ADA Compliance In 2022
Beginning in 2022, the usage of VPATs in documenting and determining the accessibility of products and services will transition rapidly from Section 508 or federal government space to ADA or commercial space.
The range of scenarios is growing by the day, and now includes providers selling third-party elements, web-based applications, and EIT systems; EIT manufacturers and vendors increasingly seeking to gauge the levels of accessibility associated with their products and services, either to avoid legal consequences of nonconformity or to increase the exposure of their products or services; and website owners seeking accessible third-party elements for critical functions of their systems.
If you are a developer or vendor of such third-party elements for systems that must demonstrate VPAT accessibility, such as plugins or widgets, or if you are the owner of the system that will be developed using those elements, your role in deepening VPAT compliance will be critical in 2022 and beyond.
You, therefore, need to understand the level of accessibility associated with each of your third-party elements. This is due to the fact that once utilized in systems that are required to have VPAT accessibility, such as websites, the owners of the systems accept responsibility for it. System owners that use third-party components must be extra cautious in establishing how effective the components are at making their bigger product or service accessible.
A good example is a hotel owner that wants to communicate and supply services through a website. A website like this will undoubtedly make use of a variety of third-party plugins, widgets, and systems for chatting services, room booking, securely storing forms, lead generation forms, and email signups.
If any of these elements fails to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the element becomes a legal obligation that must be borne alone by the website owner.
On that basis, every business owner or buyer of EIT products in 2022 and beyond should be aware of the significance of examining VPAT reports for both their systems and the third-party components that comprise those systems.
You should request a VPAT report for any third-party system or element that you intend to integrate into your own.
Need Help With VPAT Accessibility & ADA Compliance In 2022 And Beyond?
Reviewing samples of VPAT reports created from time to time by VPAT accessibility experts will help you with VPAT accessibility and ADA compliance depending on the trends emerging in the EIT sector in 2022 and beyond. You might also call ADA compliance professionals at (626) 486-2201 at a convenient time to schedule a consultation!