The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document which evaluates how accessible a particular product is according to the Accessibility Guidelines.
It is a self-disclosing document which details each aspect of the accessibility requirements and how the product supports each criteria.
On this page:
When is a VPAT needed?
- Anytime there is a product.
- Often a requirement of RFPs
- State, Local and Federal Governments and Education often ask for VPATs
- The corporate can ask 3rd party companies (chat systems, checkouts, etc.) could request VPATs
- Websites and development of sites do not apply.
Which VPAT edition should I use?
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT® is available in four editions. In this quick guide, we’ll explain the purpose and differences between each edition. The four editions are:
- VPAT 2.4 Rev 508: Revised Section 508 standards – the U.S. Federal accessibility standard
- VPAT 2.4 Rev EU: EN 301 549 – the European Union’s “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe”
- VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG: WCAG 2.1 or ISO/IEC 40500 (equivalent to WCAG 2.0) and WCAG2.1, W3C/WAI’s recently updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- VPAT 2.4 INT: Incorporates all three of the above standards
The good news is that the different editions are mostly intuitive. The primary difference between each edition is the standards used in each template. There is significant overlap because both Section 508 and EN 301 549 rely upon the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). However, each respective law also invokes additional standards beyond WCAG.
Rev 508 is appropriate for use in any VPATs called for under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. U.S. federal agencies and vendors typically use this VPAT. Entities who qualify under Section 504 may also use this VPAT. Note that this VPAT incorporates WCAG 2.0 AA rather than 2.1.
Rev EU is applicable in most European member states. Rev EU is similarly used during the public procurement process.
Rev WCAG only uses WCAG standards and is generally used across the world. Rev WCAG is appropriate to use during private procurement where no additional standards need to be addressed.
INT is the VPAT for international use and includes all standards found in the templates above. This VPAT may be used in procurement that potentially involves a mix of U.S. and European Union procurement.
As a general default, we recommend Rev WCAG (2.1 AA) for most organizations unless there is a reason to believe another VPAT edition is called for. For example, if your organization intends on selling to the public sector, you may want to opt for a VPAT that matches up with the desired procurement standards.
However, electing for a VPAT with additional standards that are not needed may not be a benefit. With additional standards come additional accessibility considerations and your product or service may not meet them. Procurement teams may view this as a mark against the accessibility of your product or service, even if the additional standards are not essential to the procurement process (or needed for the intended use of the product or service).
Ultimately, if your organization is unsure of the best VPAT to use, ask the procurement team(s) you will be submitting the Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) to. An ACR is simply a completed VPAT, but it is common for an ACR to be referred to as a VPAT.
Can I change my VPAT edition?
Yes. It’s important to remember that you will naturally want to have new ACRs issued as time progresses. One reason to get a new ACR is if your product or service notably changes and/or improves accessibility from the initial issuance. Another reason to get a new ACR is if a significant amount of time has passed since the ACR was issued. A third reason is if your initial assessment was performed by an unknown provider.
Thus, you are not locked into a single VPAT edition and you may change the VPAT you use in your next accessibility assessment.