The terms VPAT and ACR are commonly used interchangeably but they are different.
So the difference lies in that we use the VPAT to create the ACR.
So a VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, the operative word being template.
We use this template and once it’s filled out, we have an Accessibility Conformance Report.
And oftentimes in the marketplace people say VPAT when they really mean ACR because if they were referring to- if they are asking you for a VPAT they’d be asking you for a blank template but what they really want is an Accessibility Conformance Report.
Now Section508.gov says there are other methods to create an Accessibility Conformance Report – I don’t know what they are and they didn’t list them on the website, not that I could see, so we’ll skip down and we’ll work from the VPAT- the VPAT formation.
So with the VPAT, it is a construct of the Information Technology Industry Council and you do have to follow their requirements when filling out the VPAT so make sure to read the instructions and follow those instructions.
Also make sure to use the applicable VPAT edition.
There are different editions of VPAT and it’s very important that you use the right one because if you use the wrong one you may not use the right standards or you may not submit the right Accessibility Conformance Report to the procurement agent.
So if you are looking for a VPAT to- or an ACR to submit to the US federal government, for example, you would use the Revised Section 508 edition.
If you’re in the European Union, you’d likely use the EN 301 549 edition.
If you are simply looking to base your VPAT off of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines standards version 2.1, then you would use the WCAG 2.1 version.
And if you are looking to incorporate all of those standards into one VPAT, there is an international VPAT that does.
So when you finalize the Accessibility Conformance Report, of course all of your prompts are going to be filled in, of course all of the material the accessibility table is going to be filled in.
That’s really the material part of the VPAT and then ACR is having those accessibility considerations accounted for.
But you’re going to remove the instructions. Once those are done there are going to be details such as your company name, the name of your product – those details are going to be also in the Accessibility Conformance Report.
And even if your product is not fully accessible, it’s still advisable- you still want to complete the ACR.
And he reason why is, one, it shows that your company takes accessibility seriously, two, it allows your products to be your product to be evaluated against other products and then, three, you’re still up for consideration.
Just because you are not conformant with every last criterion of every standard, it doesn’t mean that you automatically won’t win the contract, it just means that, okay, it’s not your product is not completely accessible but it’s still going to be evaluated against other products.
Obviously it’s best practice- the best case scenario is that your product is fully accessible, but, if not, it’s still going to be evaluated against other products and the conformance is going to weigh in heavily on which product is chosen.
It’s important to know that a VPAT is not an audit or an ACR is not an audit.
So an ACR is going to have an accounting of the accessibility and when I say accounting of accessibility I mean it will say whether your product supports a particular success criterion, whether partially supports, or whether it does not support at all.
But it’s not going to give you the details that an audit would.
An audit it’s going to be much more detailed tell you the location of the accessibility issue, telling you how to remediate that particular accessibility issue and it’s going to go in much more detail.
Whereas the VPAT template itself is only asking for whether your product meets this particular accessibility criterion so that’s that’s one of the key differences.
However, note that an audit will need to be performed to produce an ACR so that’s the that’s the distinction between an ACR and a VPAT.
And it’s- if you’re filling one out make sure to use a reputable company because otherwise your VPAT- your ACR really is only going to be as credible as who is filling it out.