There are plenty of IT accessibility laws and policies in the US. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is one of them. According to the law, the federal government must procure IT and communication products that ensure barrier free access.
The term ‘barrier-free access’ gives businesses a green light to get sales contracts/funding from federal agencies. VPAT or Voluntary Product Accessibility is a certification that allows you to confirm that you abide by the law and offer barrier free access.
Section 508 VPAThelps the government to protect the accessibility rights of disabled users. In simple words, the government mandates 508 Compliance Certification to confirm that the technology vendors are considering the accessibility barriers of the disabled US population and developing products which can be accessed by everyone.
What Are Digital Accessibility Barriers?
Probably everyone is well aware of physical accessibility barriers. Ever seen an elderly individual struggling to turn a door knob to enter a room. The US Government makes laws to ensure that anyone with limited mobility or strength doesn’t have to struggle with such complicated door opening mechanisms.
Likewise, there are digital accessibility barriers, which affect people from accessibility technology. Roughly 26% of the US population is suffering from a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits their capabilities to access digital content. The impairments defined in the US include vision loss, hearing disability, and cognitive difficulties.
What Type Of Products Need VPAT Compliance?
The digital accessibility requirements apply on websites, mobile apps, online tools, electronic documents and distant learning tools. It means whether you are developing software or an electronic handbook for employee training, you need to fill out the VPAT to confirm its accessibility to everyone.
Section 508 compliance requires accessibility conformance for ICT (Information and Communication Technology) related offerings. If you are instrumental in developing any of the below mentioned products/offerings, you need a VPAT to be able to sell it to the federal government.
- Electronic content
- Support documentation
What Happens If You Don’t Fill Out The VPAT Template?
The definition of the Revised 508 Standards might indicate that the law is only required for association with federal agencies. However, the Section 508 VPAT examplehas become significant for every entity on the digital forefront.
Regularly updating your VPAT is highly recommended because:
- It makes you a legally compliant and preferable vendor.
- It offers you a competitive edge by practising accountability.
- It allows you to serve the disabled population better
- It offers SEO benefits followed by improved sales and profitability.
Ignoring the importance of a VPAT can get you in big trouble. The number of digital accessibility lawsuits is increasing day by day. Every organization small or large is focusing on making necessary remediations to run a compliant business.
How To Get 508 Compliance Certification?
You will need ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) to publish the 508 compliance certification. This report can be generated by filling out the VPAT template.
In order to validate the compliance certification, it is advisable to first employ several testing methods. The choices are automated, manual and hybrid.
Relying on automated testing tools is not a feasible option because the accuracy rate is only 30%. Hence, manual intervention becomes necessary. Accessibility audit specialists can thoroughly evaluate the digital content and electronic documents for conformance with the Revised 508 Standards.
Automated testing can augment the manual testing process, but it is best to go with the hybrid approach and invest in manual audits to avoid inaccurate test results. The audit specialists at ADA Compliance Pros can save you from penalties worth tens of thousands of dollars. Start your accessibility journey with the seasoned VPAT specialists.