Working with vendors and VPATs
When purchasing digital or other IT products, departments at ASU should obtain a VPAT to help ensure that products are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a form suppliers fill out (or hire third-party accessibility testing services to complete for them) to self-report their product's compliance with legal standards for accessibility. (Also see: ASU IT Accessibility Guidelines: Procuring IT Products.)
Before purchasing any IT product, departments should follow these steps:
1. Obtain a VPAT from the vendor.
All suppliers of IT products and services are required to make available a completed VPAT for their products before purchase. Vendors can obtain VPAT forms from the Information Technology Industry Council:
- For online or web-based products, the preferred VPAT is the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Edition (VPAT 2.4Rev WCAG (March 2022)).
- For other IT products, such as hardware, (or to satisfy Federal government requirements), the preferred VPAT is the current Revised Section 508 Edition (VPAT 2.4Rev 508 (March 2022)).
ASU departments should first look on the vendor's website for a VPAT detailing how the product meets WCAG or Section 508 accessibility standards. If you can't find an online document, ask your sales representative for their VPAT, or call the vendor using the contact information on their website. If the vendor is unable or unwilling to supply a VPAT, look for another product that is accessible and meets your needs.
Note: Occasionally, a vendor will provide an Accessibility Compliance Report (ACR), accessibility statement, or other document instead of a VPAT. In these cases, ask ASU Purchasing, ASU Accessibility or SAILS to determine if the document meets the same standard as a VPAT.
2. Review the VPAT.
Scan the VPAT (which is in table form). If you see a “Partially Supports” or “Does Not Support” in the Conformance Level column, the product is not fully accessible.
If the VPAT indicates that a product is not accessible, ask the vendor for a remediation roadmap, including timelines and interim workarounds to allow access by individuals with disabilities. If the vendor is unable or unwilling to supply such a roadmap, look for another product that is accessible and meets your needs.
3. Verify the VPAT.
Because VPATs are self-reported claims completed by the vendors, they should be verified whenever practical.
- Conduct an internal accessibility evaluation of the product, using methods such as:
- Check the product with just a keyboard (no mouse). Can you access all features and operate all controls?
- If the product is web-based, check its pages with the ASU Web Accessibility Audit tool or with a browser accessibility checker such as WAVE or Siteimprove.
- Test the product with assistive technologies, such as a screen reader. If possible, involve actual users with disabilities in product testing.
- Consult an independent third party to evaluate the product or service for accessibility
If internal testing indicates that a product is not accessible, obtain a remediation roadmap from the vendor, including timelines and interim workarounds to allow access by individuals with disabilities. If the vendor is unable or unwilling to supply such a roadmap, look for another product that is accessible and meets your needs.
If the vendor is unable or unwilling to supply a VPAT or equivalent, or if the review indicates the product is not accessible and the vendor is unable or unwilling to supply such a roadmap, it is best to look elsewhere for another product that is accessible.
However, sometimes no other more accessible product exists that meets your needs. In these cases, contact your dean, department head, or distributed technology (DT) lead to alert them to the situation and the need to (a) press the supplier (or hire a third-party) to remediate the accessibility issues and (b) find an accessible, equivalent alternative. It is the department's responsibility to supply alternative workarounds for individuals with disabilities and to ensure that vendors submit remediation roadmaps and follow through on commitments to remediate accessibility issues.
- For accessibility in online learning and education, join the UDAT working group.
- Connect with us on ASU's #accessibility Slack channel.
- Subscribe to ASU's ITACCESS mailing list.