No, it’s not a menu item, digital or restaurant! A VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. This is a form based on Section 508 accessibility compliance (or lack thereof) for a software or hardware product. Originally the form and the legislation was designed for federal contractors. Over the past 20 years or more Section 508 has been informally recognized as a standard for accessibility all should follow.
The VPAT is a registered trademark of the Information Technology Industry Council) ITI. Most importantly, the form is available free for your use. Download it.
San Diego State University publically shares its approach to EIT procurement. There are a series of links to vendor VPATs at the bottom of this page.
The short, non-technical version is this. The VPAT is a way for procurement officials to compare your software offering with other, similar offerings as it pertains to accessibility. More and more savvy CIOs and their teams are requesting VPATs every time they purchase Electronic Information Technology (EIT). Even more significant is that those IT professionals are doing their own tests against the products and VPATs to independently confirm the (delicately said) accuracy of the VPAT.
So. Three guiding principles.
1 – If you create software hire someone who knows how to test it and certify it via VPAT. This doesn’t mean you’ll pass every section. This does mean that the VPAT will be credible.
2 – If you purchase EIT always, always ask for a VPAT. Always take some time to test against it. Trust but verify!
We provide these services – both creating VPATs and testing against them. Contact us for more details.