Resources for making, filling out, and sharing a VPAT.
If you sell information and communication technology (ICT) products, you may want to consider filling out a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for your potential customers. A completed VPAT is a report that explains how well your product or service complies with specific accessibility standards.
Use this guide to learn how to create, complete, and share a VPAT for your product or service.
Note: This guide is for information purposes only and shouldn't be construed or relied upon as legal advice. Creating a VPAT can be a technical process. You may want to consider working with an accessibility expert.
What are ICT products?
The purpose of a VPAT is to help customers make informed decisions when buying an information and communication technology (ICT) product. Some examples of ICT products include:
- Electronic content
- Support documentation
To review a more extensive list of ICT products and services, visit the US government's Section 508 site.
Who is required to complete a VPAT?
Anyone can choose to provide a VPAT. However, organizations governed by Section 508 (directly or indirectly) may be required to complete a VPAT.
Importance of a VPAT
Providing a VPAT can help your potential customers:
- Make informed decisions before purchasing a product
- Understand a product’s level of accessibility compliance
- Compare accessibility compliance of similar products
- Select a product that follows accessibility guidelines
Accessibility standards and guidelines
Before creating your VPAT, review the specific accessibility standards that apply to your product or service, and geographic location.
- Section 508 - accessibility standards for US federal agencies, that may also cover contractors, subcontractors, and those doing business with the US federal government
- EN 301 549 - technical standards for accessibility requirements for information and communications technology products and services in the European Union
- WCAG - the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Note: Even if your product or service meets all accessibility standards and guidelines, a customer may still have difficulty using it. Completing a VPAT doesn’t guarantee accessibility for all customers.
Evaluate your products
Before creating your VPAT, evaluate your products or services to determine their level of compliance with the accessibility standards that apply to you. The following are a few common accessibility practices to consider:
- Navigation - Are your products navigable using a keyboard and screen readers?
- Images and Multimedia - How accessible are your audio, images, and videos?
- Forms and Input Fields - Can users with disabilities complete forms?
- Content Structure - Is your content structured in a clear and understandable way?
- Color and Contrast - Do your color choices and contrast ratios meet accessibility requirements?
- Alternative Text - Do you provide descriptive alt text for images and other non-text content?
- Testing with Assistive Technologies - Test your products with various assistive technologies like screen readers, voice recognition software, and magnification tools.
To learn more, visit Accessibility resources at Squarespace.
Create your VPAT
You can create your VPAT with a template from one of the following organizations, and customize it to your needs:
A VPAT typically includes the following sections:
- Product Information - basic details about your product or service
- Accessibility Standards - specify the accessibility standards you're using to evaluate your product or service
- Conformance Level - indicate the level of compliance (e.g., A, AA, AAA for WCAG)
- Product Features - list the features or components of your product and their accessibility status
- Detailed Evaluation - provide a breakdown of the compliance of each feature with accessibility standards
- Supporting Documentation - include any supporting documentation or test results
Fill out the VPAT
It's best practice to complete one VPAT for each product or service you offer. VPATs typically consist of two sections: instructions for use and the VPAT itself. Always present a thorough and honest analysis of your products.
To fill out the VPAT:
1. Identify which sections of the accessibility standards apply to your product. Sometimes, more than one set of standards is applicable.
2. Review each relevant section to determine whether your product meets the criteria.
3. Select which conformance level best describes your product.
4. Explain how your product does or doesn’t comply with the relevant standard.
5. Return to the Summary Table and document your product’s overall level of compliance in each of the applicable sections.
6. Fill out every line and column in the table section.
7. The Remarks and Evaluation column should include explanations that support the accuracy of your answers.
Publish your VPAT
After you complete a VPAT, it becomes an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR), which shows how the tested product meets specific accessibility standards.
Note: Before publishing your VPAT or ACR, you may benefit from having it reviewed by accessibility experts or accessibility strategists to ensure accuracy and completeness.
After review, you can add your VPAT or ACR on your website, or as additional product information. You may also share it with potential customers or clients who require accessibility information.
Update your VPAT regularly
Accessibility is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your VPATs as you make improvements to your products or services. Specify the date of revision and the version of the product being evaluated.