The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template
I recently met a very promising young entrepreneur who has set up an amazing business helping parents track the movement of their children as they make their return trips to school. This is quite unique due to the anxiety caused by waves of attacks on school-aged children felt by their parents.
During our chat about the innovation and how it was receiving momentous support by parents, I enquired of him how he had secured the risks the business had in light of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. It was at this point that I realized the young man was oblivious to what Section 508 is all about. I didn’t want the boy’s innovative business idea to be limited due to ignorance of the law. So I educated him a little about VPAT accessibility.
What is a VPAT?
When I mentioned VPAT accessibility, the young man's first query was, "What is a VPAT?" It was at this period that I remembered something a close friend of mine once said: while VPAT compliance professionals mistakenly believe that VPAT certification is a well understood notion, the truth is that some businesses, particularly micro-enterprises, are unaware of the VPAT ecosystem. That made me start my discussion on the VPAT from the very basics.
A VPAT can be thought of as a simple public declaration of your business's Section 508 compliance. The Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) developed this document template to make it easier to report the degree of compliance for information and communication technology (ICT) goods to interested parties, typically U.S. Federal government agencies. The ITIC owns the template, but a completed copy may be downloaded and printed from their website.
It suffices to note that a VPAT is a report on the overall degree of compliance of an ICT product or service rather than an up-and-down declaration of conformity with Section 508. Because of this, it's crucial that the assertions made in the VPAT certification be detailed and in-depth.
What is the need of a VPAT?
The federal government and its agencies are required under the Section 508 Standards to conduct research to determine the level of Section 508 compliance relative to all competing items before making procurement decisions. As a result, the guidelines improve accessibility for the federal government and its agencies' procurement procedures. In actuality, this means that your legal duty as a company is to make sure that your product's present level of compliance with Section 508 is appropriately reflected in your VPAT certification rather than to deliver a fully compliant product. Insofar as the procurement process is concerned, accurate depiction of your product's level of Section 508 compliance is sufficient to satisfy your requirement.
Here are some reasons to demonstrate why VPAT accessibility is needed in the procurement of ICT products and services:
- Helps buyers of ICT make informed decisions
VPAT certification helps buyers of ICT products and services make informed decisions before purchasing the product or service.
The VPAT compliance report enables buyers to understand the level of accessibility associated with the offered product or service so that it can help them compare the compliance of similar products or services.
It also helps the buyers choose products or services that best meet the accessibility standards and the functional and legal requirements adhered to by the procuring institution. The VPAT certification also assists buyers to plan for equally effective access when an accessible product is not available.
- Helps the government agencies evaluate conformity of ICT to Section 508
VPATs provide invaluable support to federal government agencies during the evaluation of conformity of vendors’ products and services, while enabling businesses to self-report their compliance and the compliance levels of their products and services.
- Enhanced transparency of businesses
While the federal government agencies have been able to evaluate and analyze the conformity commitments of businesses working with them, the businesses have benefited through the VPAT certification’s positive impact on their levels of transparency. . That has strengthened their corporate objectives and missions.
- Empowerment of consumers
VPAT compliance has empowered consumers to make informed purchase decisions. That has been through access to the compliance and functional details of the offered products and services before the actual purchase.
Secure VPAT accessibility for your ICT now
Don’t be left behind in securing the benefits that come with VPAT accessibility and certification. ADA Compliance Pros can help you with all the information you need about VPATs. Reach out to them by clicking here orcall them at (626) 486-2201.