What is VPAT Testing?
VPAT testing is the evaluation of how an electronic information technology (EIT) product or service conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), U.S. Section 508 standards, and the European Union’s EN 301 549 standards for accessibility using the appropriate edition of the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
The VPAT is available in four editions based on the standards or guidelines being evaluated. The editions are WCAG, the Revised 508, the EU’s EN 301 549, and the International.
The WCAG edition is based on the WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 guidelines/standards, with use of the latter being optional and is included for reference purposes. The Revised 508 VPAT testing tool is based on the Revised Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
The International VPAT edition is the VPAT for evaluating the accessibility of products and services designed for the larger world market, whereas the EU’s EN 301 549 VPAT is the VPAT assessment tool for EIT products and services meant for the EU market.
The International VPAT edition includes the accessibility compliance criteria in the WCAG, Revised 508, and EU EN 301 549 VPAT editions.
What is VPAT Compliance?
VPAT compliance requires accurate and comprehensive VPAT testing. By using the proper VPAT edition and accurate documentation, VPAT compliance helps companies and organizations assess and show that their EIT products and services adhere to established accessibility standards.
Accessibility VPAT, which promotes the attainment of accessibility goals, is supported by VPAT testing and compliance.
The Essence of VPAT Testing To Drive Toward Accessibility
Accessibility VPAT is critical in the drive towards ensuring that EIT products and services are accessible to people with disabilities. In fact, many people with disabilities have attributed VPAT compliance to the increased awareness about the challenges they experience while accessing IET products and services.
VPAT testing and its allied accessibility VPATs have significantly transformed accessibility within the digital economy for the following reasons:
Helps buyers to make informed decisions
Potential consumers of EIT products and services can better understand the accessibility features of the products and services that are currently on the market due to VPAT testing. This is possible because the questions in VPAT testing tools require vendors to respond with “yes,” “no,” or “not applicable” depending on how well their products or services meet each requirement.
When a vendor answers these questions accurately and concisely, he or she assists potential buyers in making informed purchasing decisions, which promotes accessibility goals.
Makes vendors strive toward enhanced quality
Until VPAT testing is carried out, a vendor might not be aware of the accessibility flaws in his or her products or services. VPAT testing is, therefore, an opportunity to strive toward VPAT compliance.
It is impossible for a vendor’s EIT products or services to be purchased by federal government agencies if such products or services lack VPAT compliance. This requirement compels vendors to strive to make their EIT products more accessible, which ultimately results in products and services with improved accessibility features. Thus, VPAT testing encourages greater accessibility.
Businesses with accessible products enjoy enhanced credibility
Every vendor wants to differentiate their products and services from those of their competitors in this highly competitive marketplace. This helps them to gain a sizable market share and boost their profits.
VPAT testing enables businesses to learn about the extra accessibility features included in the accessible VPATS for competing products and services. Buyers value companies that work to increase the availability and caliber of their products and services.
This leads to these vendors’ checking out what makes the most demanded products and services appealing to buyers so as to use the insights to improve their own. This ultimately contributes to increased accessibility.
Businesses who want to increase their credibility with customers by leading the charge to make their products and services more accessible become role models for others to follow, which helps in the achievement of accessibility objectives.
Need help with VPAT testing of your EIT products and services?
You can find out how to establish the VPAT compliance of your products or services by checking out this sample VPAT testing tool or by calling (626) 486-2201 to discuss the available opportunities for third-party assistance with your creating accessibility VPATs.