Compliance

Accessible Tech: A Compliance Update

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For those familiar with generating or receiving compliance reports on the accessibility of technology products, the VPAT, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template is a familiar term.  The VPAT form was created by the Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council for companies to report how well their technology products and services meet widely adopted accessibility standards. The completed form is called an Accessibility Conformance Report, or ACR, though many may still refer to it as a VPAT.

Though the VPAT form is voluntarily completed by product vendors, it is often required as part of the procurement process. Government agencies and many other sectors, such as education, travel, banking, etc., need to ensure the products they buy can meet the accessibility needs of the people they serve as well as those they employ.  The ACR produced by product vendors can help purchasers make informed decisions and compare products’ capabilities and weaknesses.

So, what is happening in the world of compliance lately? In March 2022, the VPAT underwent an update to Version 2.4 Rev.  Not a lot of technical changes were made, other than the addition of the European Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services (EN 301 549 V3.2.1). This standard was updated for use with the EU Directive 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies  – a regulation for the European Union, so it is now included in the VPAT.

The detailed VPAT changes are noted in the change tracking file; the most notable are:

  • All editions – Updated the version so all editions are the same – even for editions where the technical requirements did not change, such as 508 and WCAG.
  • All editions – Clarified the Best Practices for Authors instructions regarding evaluation methods used to avoid misunderstanding.
  • EU and INT editions – Included the EN 301 549 V3.2.1 and updated link references to the standard.
  • EU and INT editions – Corrected the document title of the EN 301 549 V3.1.1.

ITI is in the process of incorporating relevant changes into the VPAT training modules that were originally released in March of 2021. The updated VPAT training PowerPoint® slide decks are already available from the ITI website and the videos will soon follow. In addition to incorporating the VPAT form updates, the following changes were also made to the VPAT training:

  • All slide decks: Improved the accessibility of the slide contents.
  • Module 4: Section 508. Made corrections to the applicability of 502.3.x Accessibility Services requirements (14 of them) to align with the U.S. Access Board’s webinar on the Revised Section 508 Chapter 5 Software, given on September 26, 2017. This means that these requirements not only apply to platform software to provide accessibility services with the functionalities noted, but that application software must also use those platform-provided accessibility services to make the required information programmatically available to assistive technology, such as screen readers.

That wraps up the changes to be aware of. All of the updated VPAT training slide decks and VPAT editions are available on the ITI website. This article will be updated when the recorded training modules are available.

ITI welcomes questions or comments on this or any other matter related to ICT accessibility. You may contact ITI for further information.

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