Why Is VPAT Testing Important To Your Business?
Businesses that produce technology products sold or leased to government organizations are responsible for making their products accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Whether it's a website, electronic content, mobile app, hardware, or enterprise software solution, it's best to have your product undergo a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) assessment.
The VPAT is a self-disclosure document in which a company evaluates how well its tech product conforms to the U.S. Section 508 standards. The guidelines are part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and address electronic and information technology access. While this isn't a pass or fail document, it's a self-evaluation and still an essential step in the right direction. In other words, this document could help your business in front of a panel of potential government buyers.
So, if your business hasn't done VPAT testing yet, it'd be best to consider giving it a go now. Here are some reasons behind it:
1. To Help Buyers Make Informed DecisionsVPAT aims to help prospective customers, primarily in the public sector, understand the accessibility features of your product. The template consists of a series of questions to which you must answer ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not applicable’ based on how your product measures up to each criterion.
Such questionnaires may include:
- Is your software application designed to be used with a screen reader?
- Do your webpages use text equivalents or alt text for all non-text content, such as images, audio, and video?
- Is your website compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen magnifiers?
- Can users navigate your website or tech product using only a keyboard?
You're helping potential buyers make informed decisions about your product by providing clear and concise answers to these questions. This information allows them to assess whether or not your product is the right fit for their needs. And more importantly, you're helping to create a more level playing field for all businesses. This is because buyers will be better equipped to choose products that are accessible to everyone.
Additionally, you can find plenty of VPAT testing tools available online. You can use these tools or hire external accessibility testing services to get a comprehensive report.
2. To Improve Your Chances Of Winning BidsSince you're helping prospects make a sound decision about your product, you're also improving your chances of winning bids. That's because most government organizations now require bidders to provide a VPAT as part of the procurement process.
Having a VPAT on hand demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and sets you apart from competitors who haven't done the same. It can also help you avoid potential delays or roadblocks, as buyers will already clearly understand your product's accessibility features. So, if you're planning on bidding for government contracts, make sure to have a VPAT document ready.
3. To Boost Your Credibility And ReputationIt's no secret that buyers are looking for reliable and trustworthy companies to do business with. This is especially true regarding government agencies, as they’re accountable to the taxpayers and their best interests. One way to boost your credibility and reputation is by having a VPAT document.
When your online page or product is VPAT compliant, it shows that you take accessibility seriously and are willing to go the extra mile to provide the best possible experience for all users. In turn, it'll build trust and confidence in your brand, leading to more business opportunities in the long run. After all, your goal is to provide high-quality products and services that meet the needs of your target market. And VPAT is one way to help you achieve that.
4. To Enhance Your ProductSometimes, you may not realize the gaps in your product until you go through the VPAT process. By assessing how well your product conforms to the standards, you may identify areas where you can make necessary changes or adjustments. Consequently, you can update or revise your product to make it more accessible and user-friendly.
So, rather than seeing VPAT as a chore, view it as an opportunity to enhance your product and make it even better. Not only will you be improving the user experience, but you'll also be setting your product to stand out from the competition. After all, accessible technology is becoming more critical than ever, so it's crucial to strive for improvements continuously.
Bottom LineAs you can see, there are several reasons why VPAT testing is essential to your business. Not only does it help you win bids and comply with the law, but it also provides an opportunity to improve your product.
Use the guidelines outlined on this post to help you get started with your VPAT document. And if you need assistance, plenty of resources and tools are available to help you along the way. Let your commitment to accessibility shine through and create a better user experience for all.
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