Understanding VPAT Accessibility: A Guide for Businesses and Developers
VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, which is a document that organizes a demonstration of the products and services made accessible to people with disabilities. This blog will cover all aspects of VPAT accessibility and will act as a guide for all businesses and developers to ensure their products and services are accessible to all users.
What is VPAT Accessibility?
A voluntary product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that allows an organization to provide a comprehensive analysis of its conformance to accessibility standards set by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The document consists of the key accessibility requirements, provides a structured outline of the level of compliance, and gives remarks on the improvements.
This template is available through procurement offices and was created by the Information technology industry council so that the contracting officials can easily make preliminary assessments on all digital products.
In other words, the VPAT report is highly recommended to the one who is a provider of electronic and information technology that federal workers can use. Additionally, if you are not VPAT certified, your business may be losing opportunities by not being Section 508 compliant.
Benefits of VPAT Accessibility
Some of the benefits of VPAT accessibility include the following:
- It provides a comprehensive overview of how a product or service meets international accessibility standards.
- It allows users to quickly identify and understand the accessible features of a product or service.
- It also helps organizations to evaluate their product or services for compliance with accessibility standards and provide accessibility gaps and challenges that can be improved to make them more accessible.
- VPAT accessibility also allows organizations to save time and money when implementing accessibility requirements.
- It also provides valuable feedback on the accessibility of a product or service that can be used to improve the user experience.
- VPAT accessibility also encourages organizations to take a proactive approach to accessibility leading to better products and services for all users.
- It also helps in boosting sales and therefore increases the overall revenue.
- It also helps the buyers to compare the conformance of similar products and choose the one of the best that meets accessibility standards areas and the organization’s functional and legal requirements.
Understanding VPAT Requirements
When getting yourself compliant with the accessibility standards, understanding the requirements of VPAT is a must. Some of the points to consider are mentioned below:
- The first step is that it is required to be completed by vendors submitting bids or proposals to Federal government agencies.
- VPAT also must be completed according to the Access Board’s VPAT template, which provides guidance on what information must be included in the report.
- VPAT should include descriptions of the product or services and the accessible features supported.
- It should also include information on any limitations of the products in terms of accessibility.
- It should be reviewed by the vendor and approved by the federal government agency before the vendor can be awarded the contract.
- VPAT must be updated if there are any changes in the product and services or when the vendor wishes to report on additional accessible features.
Tips for Creating an Accessible Product or Service
Incorporating accessibility into product or service design is indeed crucial because being accessible to every user is a kind of mandatory requirement.
However, the question is how to incorporate accessibility into product or service design. No worries; this section will learn about the features to incorporate, including Accessible PDF solutions. We have summarized all the best practices to ensure an accessible product or service.
So, let’s get started.
Set a Color Contrast Scale
When using a phone in bright sunlight, the experience is not quite pleasant; you have a squint in your eyes or glue your face to the screen to make out the sense of what you are trying to look at; the reason for this is low color contrast.
Now, if you are someone with a low vision, this is the most common issue that can arise for you on a daily basis. Therefore, incorporating color contrast into your design from the beginning is important to avoid contrast issues down the line. This allows users with vision impairments to analyze content easily.
To do the same, make sure that the test is legible and that there is enough contrast between the background and the text. Also, make sure to avoid using pure black or pure white and vice versa so that it doesn’t cause screen fatigue.
Include Visual Cues & Labels
Relying on only one of our senses can make users miss key information. Therefore, it is suggested to include visual cues and labels to make users engaged. It also allows them not to miss any key information.
For instance, a user who is color blind may not be able to perceive the red outline of an input field. Users using screen readers may not be able to understand what “ic_24” means in the context of the screen they are interacting with.
All of this can lead to unintentional mistakes that include a barrier to their service or product use. Hence, adding simple cues and labels can guide both users and save them a lot of time and energy.
Create a Clear Hierarchy of Information
When designing something, this should be a common practice. But sometimes, your creative passion may lead you down an experimental path. A possible side effect may be an unclear and inaccurate implementation of content structure that doesn’t give information as intended.
This can also create problems for the users who use assistive technologies. Making sure you organize the information in a logical and easy-to-follow manner can help the users understand. Prioritize, and navigate through content.
Using Descriptive & Non-ambiguous CTAs
This is another important aspect where mentioned proper CTAs ensure a more clickable rate. For instance, if one button only says “More,” the other CTA says “Learn more about our Shipping Policy.” Which option would you choose?
Most people will choose “option B.” By keeping in mind that you should avoid ambiguous links or buttons that are not clearly labeled. Instead, be more descriptive so that the button’s purpose is clearly visible to the users, and they can decide whether to click further or not.
To do the same, align with your copywriters, content creators, UX writers, or whoever shapes your content to get you attractive CTAs.
Putting Users in Control
Users should be the ones who are aware of what the next step within the product will be. Do not unnecessarily update pages because it can cause product issues, like unintentional submission of data or purchases, not being able to read a page because of automatic updates, or playing audio files automatically.
These types of things can lead to users not having enough time to complete an action. Giving users control over these situations can lead to easy navigation and interaction with digital products.
Resources for Developers and Businesses
Some of the resources for developers and businesses for VPAT accessibility include:
- Developers and business owners can use VPATs to ensure that their products and services are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities.
- The US Department of Justice provides a comprehensive VPAT resource center to help developers and business owners create VPATs.
- The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) also has a VPAT resource page with useful tips and links to other VPAT resources.
- The accessibility project also provides a list of tools that can be used to create VPATs, as well as resources to help you interpret and understand the VPAT you are creating.
- The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) from W3C has a lot of resources for developers and businesses to learn more about creating and using VPATs.
VPAT Accessibility is an important concept that businesses and developers should be aware of. It can be used to ensure that their products and services are accessible to all users, regardless of whether they have disabilities. By understanding the requirements of VPAT Accessibility, businesses, and developers can create products and services that are more accessible and user-friendly. This post provides an overview of VPAT Accessibility and tips for businesses and developers to create an accessible product or service.