What is a VPAT and why do we need it?

VPAT, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, is a document prepared by a product developer or vendor.  It describes how well the product conforms to the accessibility standards of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The purpose of a VPAT is to help buyers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)  make informed decisions before purchasing a product:

  • Understand a product’s level of accessibility compliance.
  • Compare compliance of similar products.
  • Choose a product that best meets accessibility standards and the organization’s functional and legal requirements.
  • Plan for equally effective access when an accessible product is not available.

How do I get a VPAT?

Some vendors publish their VPATs on their website.  Others will provide the VPAT when you request it from their sales or support contact.

Make sure you get the VPAT 2.0 (or higher).  Section 508 was refreshed in 2017, and now measures accessibility using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 criteria.  VPATs developed before 2017 may be out of date if the product has been updated since then.

Do we have to get a VPAT?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires government agencies to make ICT accessible to people with disabilities.  The State of California applies Section 508 to the CSU. The CSU and SSU has policies and procedures to make ICT accessible to our employees, students and the broader campus community.

Obtaining and reviewing a product’s VPAT is one step in the accessible procurement process.

However, a VPAT is voluntary for vendors - they may choose to not create or provide a VPAT.