How vendor's assess product accessibility – Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a Web based summary to assist contracting officials and other buyers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial Electronic and Information Resources products and services with features that support accessibility.
Accessibility is a core requirement for usable digital experiences that maximizes user empowerment and ability to reach their goals. All postsecondary institutions are legally responsible for the accessibility of their information and communication technologies. For these reasons, accessibility is becoming an increasingly significant factor in purchasing decisions. To support user needs and do your part in ensuring UW–Madison resources are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504, request a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT from the vendors whose products you are considering.
A VPAT will help you better understand the vendor's self-reported accessibility and to compare accessibility between different vendors. Please note that the presence of a VPAT, however, does not mean that a product is accessible. To better understand how to evaluate a VPAT, here are few things to keep in mind.
- VPAT's self-reported by the vendor may be completed by individuals less experienced with accessibility. VPATs generated by independent qualified accessibility agencies are more reliable based on the scope of evaluation.
- Try to avoid accepting VPATs where the vendor has reported exclusively a “yes/no” or “pass/fail” response on the form. Encourage your vendor to provide detailed standards conformance information on a criterion-by-criterion basis, which will enable you as the prospective purchaser to still assess whether a product may still meet essential accessibility objectives even if it is not fully conformant with technical requirements.
The Center for Digital Accessibility & User Experience can help with interpreting and evaluating VPATs. Contact the Center for Digital Accessibility & User Experience or email Phyllis Treige, Assistant Director of Digital Accessibility & User Experience or Sandi Arendalkowski, Accessibility Lead for questions.
VPAT forms to request from your vendor
UW–Madison uses the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (2.1) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to inform how to create accessible technologies that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The corresponding VPAT forms for these standards are provided below.