The VPAT and Vendor Resources
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template®, or VPAT®, allows those who procure goods or services to make preliminary assessments regarding the accessibility of Electronic and Information Resources (EIR). By outlining how EIR measure up to specific criteria found in Section 508, the VPAT allows for comparisons of EIR being considered to fulfill a business need.
Vendors may voluntarily provide the VPAT on their websites as part of their product or service offerings, however you may need to request it when contemplating an EIR purchase. There may be no perfectly accessible product to meet a given business need, however with proper research and/or modifications to configurations and settings, users with disabilities may still be able to utilize it effectively.
Helpful resources include:
- Procurement tips including use of the VPAT
- Blank VPAT for vendor use
- Vendor instructions for filling out a VPAT
Sections of the VPAT
The first table of the VPAT provides a summary view of the section 508 Standards. The subsequent tables provide more detailed views of each Section 508 subsection. Within all tables:
- Column one describes the accessibility criteria.
- The second column describes the supporting features of the EIR.*
- The last column contains any additional remarks and explanations regarding the EIR.
*Data within the second column includes the status of the EIR with regard to each of the accessibility criteria:
- Supports with exceptions
- Does not support
- Not applicable
Did you know?
- In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
- About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
- The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
- Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
- Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
- Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
- Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
- Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
- Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
- Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
- Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
- Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
- A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
- There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
- HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
- Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
- If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
- If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
- If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
- An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.