With the rising number of digital accessibility lawsuits, Section 508 compliance has become a buzzword.
Almost every vendor or manufacturer of a technology product is concerned about the VPAT scoring. VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) is a self-evaluation tool to declare your compliance with Section 508. The law basically applies to Federal agencies that develop or procure technology products.
When a technology business organization deals with a federal agency or any entity that receives funding from the federal government, Section 508 compliance is mandatory for them. The vendors must abide by the law and declare their accessibility standards via VPAT. In today’s post, we cover what is VPAT and how to use it to protect your business from lawsuits.
What’s Covered In Section 508?
Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act which is also connected to certain other digital accessibility laws. The Americans with Disability (ADA) Act is one of the most important laws that has become the #1 reason for digital accessibility lawsuits and expensive penalties.
Section 508 standards are applicableto information technology and communication products, such as:
- Mobile apps
- Operating systems
- Electronic content like PDFs
To put it simply, if a remote learning app has electronic documents, then the developers need to make sure that the products are easily accessible by users who have hearing difficulties, vision loss or cognitive limitations.
The updated version for Section 508 needs accessibility compliance for color, images, tables, lists, headings, forms and PDFs.
Make Your Website Accessible With A VPAT
VPAT was originally developed only for technology agencies that are dealing with the federal government. However, compliance with Section 508 through regularly auditing your VPAT accessibility standards is a step in the direction of avoiding expensive legal recourse.
What Is VPAT Compliance?
There are four different editions of VPAT including WCAG edition, 508 edition, EU edition and INT edition. Depending on your requirements, you can select the edition and test your products to declare your VPAT compliance.
The VPAT template can be filled out after a thorough accessibility audit of the products/offerings. Below is a step by step approach to make your website compliant with Section 508.
- Captions and transcripts: Make sure that the audio and videos are accessible via written text or transcripts. Speech recognition technologies are useful to make your website 508 compliant.
- Navigation: Make sure that website navigation is hassle free if a user doesn’t have access to a mouse and uses only the keyboard.
- Screen readers: Access that the available content is easily readable via a screen reading platform. To attain Section 508 compliance, it is important to make things accessible for visually impaired users.
- ALT text: Visually impaired users use a screen reader, they must know when the screen is displaying an image. Alt texts are alternative texts that include descriptions that the users are now looking at an image or a video on the screen.
- Color and contrast: Foreground and background color contrast is also a useful element to make a website compliant with Section 508. When filling out a VPAT, make sure to test the colour and contrast. This detail is helpful for users to distinguish easily accessible products and offerings.
- Timeouts: Timed responses are challenging for users with cognitive limitations. Avoid using them if you aim for Section 508 compliance.
A VPAT testing tool is useful to access your website. Although automated scans are only 30% accurate and can only detect basic errors like missing ALT texts and color contrast. It is best to invest in manual audits to make a website totally compliant.
Regularly updating your VPAT is essential to reduce the risk of being on the ever increasing list of law violators. Click on the link given below to learn what is VPAT accessibility procedure and how long it takes.