VPAT security: the secure way to buy accessible EIT products or services
You should always rely on VPAT security as a buying guide when choosing electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services with the most accessible features.
If a correct VPAT statement or VPAT report is available, that confirms the security of the VPAT. To use any VPAT statement or report intended to assist you in making wise purchase decisions, you must first understand the user flows for the EIT products and services you wish to purchase.
You can avoid purchasing products and services that will require you to invest additional efforts in implementing accessibility features by understanding the user flows of the product or service and relying on that when reviewing completed VPATs.
Ask the correct user flow questions.
You should think about the right questions to ask vendors of the products or services you wish to buy depending on your user accessibility needs when assessing the product’s or service’s user flows.
Once you’ve decided on the inquiries you want to make to different providers of the products or services, you should find out if the products or services that are offered have VPAT reports so you can examine them and see how well they adhere to the set accessibility requirements.
What is a VPAT report?
A VPAT form that has been correctly and thoroughly filled out is referred to as an accessibility conformance report (ACR), also known as a VPAT report. The report enables buyers to assess technology for accessibility when considering a purchase.
If the product or service you’re interested in is a website-based or online-based product or service, its VPAT statement—a statement on the website that defines the level of accessibility of the website or online property—is provided on the website in the form of quick fact sheets that are accessible via a link from every page of the website or online-based product or service.
Some producers or suppliers of digital products and services publish the VPAT reports for their EIT products and services on their websites, whereas others only make them available to customers in response to customer requests.
You may typically locate VPAT reports on the websites of the businesses by performing a search for “Vendor or Product Name” + “VPAT.” If you use this approach but fail to see the VPAT report online, then that is the time to request the vendor for the most recent version of the VPAT for the product you’re interested in.
Requesting a VPAT report
To request that a vendor or manufacturer provide a VPAT report for the product or service you’re interested in, you can write to the vendor or manufacturer and ask them to provide you with:
- The latest version of the VPAT report they have for the product
- Details about who completed it
- When the accessibility assessment for the product or service was done, and in the case of a website or web-based product or service, what VPAT testing tool was used?
Sometimes, when contacting a business to request a VPAT report, you may be directed to the sales team, which may not be familiar with accessibility. In this case, or if the document they provide you with is outdated, you can ask them some accessibility questions that could provide insight into the accessibility of the product or service. The questions include the following:
- Have you ever assessed your product or service for conformance with the appropriate accessibility requirements? If you did, who performed the tests and using what VPAT testing tool?
- Have you received any reports of users or the product or service experiencing accessibility barriers with the product or service? If so, what has been the outcome of these reports?
- If we purchase your product or service and experience any accessibility barriers with it, will you address those barriers? If so, who may we contact and what is the estimated timeline for remediation?
Often, if you ask these questions and the business has a VPAT for the product you’re interested in, they will provide it to you as the starting point so that it helps answer the questions you have and only ask those that do not have answers in the product’s or service’s accessibility conformance report.
Knowing a vendor who is not committed to accessibility
If you use the above-mentioned approach to get VPAT accessibility information for a product or service you’re interested in, but the vendor neither offers you a VPAT report or a VPAT statement nor shares detailed responses to the accessibility questions you raise with them, treat the product or service with caution, as this would be an indicator they don’t factor accessibility into their product or service design.
Need assistance with requesting a VPAT report?
You can get help requesting a VPAT report for the product or service you want to purchase. If it is a website or web-based solution, you can use this VPAT testing tool to test its level of accessibility. For any other help, you can shoot us a convenient time at (626) 486-2201 to schedule a consultation. Our consultations are always free!