VPAT Evaluation Services
Electronic information technology products and services sold to government agencies must be accessible. They must be usable, navigable, and perceivable by people who have vision, hearing, mobility, or cognitive challenges. This holds true for federal agencies through Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. State and local governments frequently pass laws and implement policies based on Section 508. The challenge of procuring technology that complies with these regulations is a daunting task for public-sector organizations. A VPAT is frequently the mechanism used to ensure accessibility compliance.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
A VPAT is a document used by federal and state governments and institutions of higher education to gauge the accessibility of hardware, software, or online products and services during a procurement process. Vendors create VPATs for their products. To meet the need of purchasers, a VPAT must be accurate. Creating an accurate VPAT requires the vendor to be knowledgeable about accessibility standards and how they affect users with disabilities.
The VPAT must be interpreted against accessibility standards by the government procurement team. Without accessibility knowledge on both ends of the transaction, both vendors and agencies are at risk of entering into contracts for non-accessible products and services.
Microassist has been a government-contracted vendor for more than 20 years. We can help Government Agencies review VPAT; we can also help Government Vendors create accurate VPATs.
Government Agencies: Procurement Support
Procurement teams dedicated to the acquisition of accessible Information and Communication Technology (ICT) / Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) and/or technology-based services, may be required to evaluate numerous Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT®) in the form of both VPAT® 2.1 responses and Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACR applicable to VPAT® 2.3). Evaluating these documents presents a challenge for purchasers. Purchasers must interpret the compliance documents and frequently seek clarification from vendors on their response.
To help in streamlining the purchasing process, Microassist offers four services designed to aid procurement professionals.
VPAT Evaluation Services
Baseline VPAT/ACR Review
Our Baseline VPAT/ACR focuses on the accuracy of the VPAT/ACR response provided by the vendor to procurement. Our team reviews the VPAT for compliance with WCAG and 508 standards. As part of the review, Microassist may contact the vendor to get clarification on issues of concern. Our goal is to verify to the extent possible the accuracy of the vendor’s accessibility declaration and provide a report to your procurement group.
Baseline VPAT/ACR + Vendor Qualification Review
Microassist can supplement the Baseline VPAT/ACR review, by gathering additional information from the vendor. Microassist will work with your team to determine additional information that is needed from the vendor to attest to the accessibility of the vendor’s product. For example, our team can review vendor-supplied accessibility audits from internal or third-party quality assurance (QA) testing. We can also review the PDAA (Policy-Driven Adoption for Accessibility). If needed we can produce a custom accessibility questionnaire for the vendor and help your purchasing team in interpreting the survey.
Software Product Audit
For high-value projects, Microassist can perform an accessibility software audit on a vendor’s software product–not just review the vendor-provided VPAT. We will work with your procurement department and the vendor to scope an appropriate engagement. Our software audit team will test the software for compliance against required standards such as the WCAG 2.0/2.1 AA, Section 508, and other applicable standards.
Hardware Product Audit
For high-value projects, Microassist can perform an accessibility hardware audit on a vendor’s physical product. We will work with your procurement department and the vendor to scope an appropriate engagement. Our hardware audit team will test the software meets compliance with appropriate accessibility standards.
Vendors: Lower Risk with Accurate VPATs
An incomplete or inaccurate VPAT can put you at contractual risk. Your customers rely on you to self-evaluate and report levels of accessibility compliance on your VPAT. Because VPATs are provided as part of an official federal, state, or local government procurement contract, they represent your official claim regarding the accessibility of your products and services.
To lower that risk, you can engage Microassist to help you evaluate and accurately document your products and services. As a government-contracted IT services provider with a staff that is well versed in accessibility implementation across a wealth of technical environments, we can help you generate a more accurate assessment of your offering. We can also help you produce the documentation agencies require as part of the procurement process.
Contact Our Accessibility Team
Ensuring accessible ICT procurements means being confident in the information you have about the product or service being considered. Make sure your digital environment complies with accessibility standards and welcomes people of all abilities to access your content and tools. Contact us about our accessibility evaluation services for government procurement today and see how we can help.