Who are the VPAT vendors?
VPAT vendors are individuals or businesses that offer duly filled-out voluntary product accessibility templates (VPATs) for consideration by buyers or procurement officials as part of the process of buying information and communication technology (ICT) products and services within the economic production chain.
Businesses or companies that sell or supply ICT products or services to the organizations directly or indirectly governed by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act can be regarded as VPAT vendors. These include all businesses selling or providing ICT products and services to U.S. federal agencies, any government agency that receives financial aid from the U.S. federal government, and private businesses or companies operating as contractors to U.S. federal agencies.
Completion of VPATs by VPAT vendors
What buyers and procurement officials seeking accessible ICT to purchase hardly know is that most VPAT vendors lack the technical understanding of the complex accessibility issues that VPATs usually require.
Filling out a VPAT is a technical process that requires one to be knowledgeable about accessibility as well as have experience regarding how buyers and procurement officials glean through submitted VPAT reports to select one with the most accessibility features.
Some of the vendors may have some in-house resources to help them undertake their VPAT certification, but a good number of them outsource the VPAT certification task to VPAT consultants for help. When you have an opportunity to review a VPAT report submitted by a VPAT vendor, keep in mind the following facts about the vendors:
Many VPAT vendors can lie about the accessibility of their products
VPAT vendors are human beings who want to eke out a living from what they do. Consequently, when provided with an opportunity to submit VPAT certification for their ICT products or services to help in decision-making to select the product or service with the most accessible features, they may not divulge the negative aspects of their products or services that act as barriers to accessibility. They will want to portray their products or services in the best way possible so they can be selected as the most accessible. While this negates the intent of developing the VPAT form, it is an unbelievable fact about VPAT vendors.
The majority of VPAT vendors are not accessibility experts
The majority of VPAT vendors are entrepreneurs whose main focus is the growth of their businesses and making their ICT products or services penetrate deeper into various markets. This means that they don’t have time to establish the key issues associated with accessibility. Therefore, they may not be familiar with the technicalities of VPAT certification.
Because of this lack of accessibility expertise, some of those who choose to do their VPAT certification internally produce laughable VPAT reports.
Some of the vendors could be interacting with the VPAT for the first time, which means that their push for VPAT certification is not for people with disabilities but to avoid the consequences of not being compliant.
When reviewing the VPAT reports from such VPAT vendors, they may contain inaccurate information that could make you select their products. That is because some of them engage VPAT consulting firms that fill out the VPATs very accurately but do not take the time to undertake the requisite VPAT testing of the products or services.
Start-ups VPAT vendors could be disadvantaged
Some VPAT vendors are start-up ICT businesses trying to establish themselves in the highly competitive environment. While such start-ups may not have the resources to hire high-caliber VPAT consultants to help them with the VPAT certification, their ICT products or services could be way better than those being offered by the established VPAT vendors.
Reviewing the VPAT reports without the hindsight of the unbelievable facts about VPAT vendors could make a buyer or procurement official select a product or service with less accessible features just because it has a superior VPAT report.
Therefore, there is a need to strike a balance between VPAT certification and undertaking some degree of due diligence so as to ascertain that what is indicated in the VPAT report reflects the product or service the report is associated with. This is a very important consideration that buyers and procurement officials ought to keep in mind during the market research for accessible products and services.
Need help ascertaining the reliability of submitted VPAT reports?
ADACP understands all the dynamics associated with VPAT certification by various VPAT vendors and can help you ascertain whether the VPAT report provided by a vendor matches the accessibility realities of the associated product or service. To get assistance on this matter, Call Our Consultant Today. Our VPAT consultations are always free.