We are education technology experts.

Skip to main content
Blogs - Accessibility

Everything You Need to Know About a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

  • Published on: May 1, 2024
  • |
  • Updated on: May 2, 2024
  • |
  • Reading Time: 5 mins
  • |
  • Views
  • |
Authored By:

Tarveen Kaur

Director, Accessibility Services

Will we return to the days when we wrote letters instead of sending an email? Or when we made the effort to visit someone in person rather than face-timing them? Digitization has truly taken over, hasn’t it? It is everywhere in our lives and is going to be even more embedded in the future.

Along with this, comes the need for ensuring that technology is accessible to all. Lack of accessibility can create obstacles for people with various disabilities and restrict their ability to fully engage with the digital world, access information, or even use different products or services. According to WHO, 1.3 billion people experience disability today. Hence, promoting accessibility becomes crucial to ensure equal opportunity and inclusivity for all.

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that provides necessary information about how a product or service conforms to various accessibility standards like Section 508, WCAG, EAA, or International Standards. It is developed by the Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council in partnership with the US General Service Administration (GSA).

By documenting accessibility-focused product design and development steps, a VPAT demonstrates that a product is usable and beneficial to all consumers, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. This, in turn, helps companies to increase market reach, enhance customer engagement and satisfaction, and also reduce the risk of legal liability. But that’s not all! It opens many more doors for Edtech companies as well as learners.

Three colleagues, two women and a man, huddle around a desk in an office, reviewing a document that outlines voluntary product accessibility guidelines.


What Doors Does a VPAT Open For EdTech Products?

A product’s compliance with accessibility standards is one of the most basic requirements for it to be considered for government contracts. This is especially the case when edtech companies need to bid for contracts with state-funded schools and school districts.

In this, organizations such as schools and districts accept proposals or bids for digital products like LMS from different vendors. This provides a standardized format to understand the accessibility of these products, helping these organizations make informed decisions based on the level of accessibility provided by these products. VPAT also helps schools and districts prepare for their accessibility discussions with vendors by using the VPAT’s list of questions related to accessibility standards where the vendors must respond whether the product supports, partially supports, or does not support each criterion of WCAG guidelines. This helps to ensure whether the procurement decision is in line with the accessibility requirements.

VPAT also encourages best practices among vendors and developers and raises awareness of accessibility standards, where they can prioritize accessibility considerations in their product development process. This way schools and districts can guarantee that they are procuring digital materials and technology that are accessible to all learners by requiring vendors to submit an accurate and up-to-date VPAT as a condition of purchasing any digital product.


How to Develop a VPAT?

To develop a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), the following steps should be taken into consideration:

1. Understand Accessibility Guidelines

The first and most important step while creating a VPAT is to understand the accessibility guidelines such as WCAG, ADA, and Section 508. These guidelines help you evaluate the requirements for making digital products accessible to people with disabilities.

2. Determine the Scope

This step involves identifying the digital products that are to be evaluated to check their accessibility. It includes understanding functionalities, interfaces, and platforms that need to be assessed. This evaluation process consists of evaluating websites, mobile applications, software, and other digital content.

3. Evaluate Features For Compliance Against Standards

The third step involves evaluating digital products as per accessibility standards. These evaluations can be done through manual testing, automated testing, or a combination of both and cover various aspects of accessibility features including keyboard navigation, color contrast, screen reader compatibility, and captioning.

4. Documenting Results

The fourth step includes using the VPAT template to document accessibility assessment results. This VPAT template includes sections for product identity, conformance level, and supporting details in a standard format. This encompasses sections where you can report on the accessibility of various functional areas such as user interface, forms, and multimedia.

5. Include Remedial Measures

Remedial measures are necessary in the VPAT in case the technological product does not fully comply with the accessibility criteria. These measures should detail the necessary steps to enhance accessibility and ensure compliance and also provide clear instructions, and timelines, and assign responsibilities for carrying out these actions.

6. Provide Feedback and Explanations

For every functional area, include feedback explanations in the VPAT forms. This section should include information regarding the product’s compliance with accessibility standards, as well as any known limitations or exceptions.

7. Regular Review and Update

To make sure that the digital products continue to adhere to accessibility standards, regular evaluations and updates of VPAT become a mandated requirement. This is important as accessibility standards and digital products keep evolving.

Two office workers, a man and a woman, are discussing whether their products adhere to voluntary product accessibility guidelines.


What Happens After You Develop a VPAT?

After successfully developing a VPAT, several actions typically take place. First, the VPAT is examined internally to make sure it is accurate and comprehensive.

This also involves collaboration with development teams, legal advisors, and accessibility experts to address accessibility issues identified in the VPAT and to work towards resolving them effectively. Legal advisors are required to ensure that the organization meets legal requirements related to accessibility and can also provide guidance on compliance with accessibility standards.

VPAT is also frequently used to inform prospective customers, clients, or partners about the accessibility features and compliance status of the product and is often included in procurement documentation, proposals, and marketing materials.

These VPAT findings also need to be communicated with relevant stakeholders including product designers, developers, customers, partners, regulatory agencies, and advocacy groups. This transparency also helps edtech companies build trust and showcase a commitment to accessibility. Regularly reviewing and updating the VPAT also forms a crucial step to ensure ongoing accessibility and prioritizing improvements based on the findings.

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT, forms an important step in a broader commitment to accessibility and plays a crucial role in ensuring that edtech products are equally accessible to all users, regardless of the disabilities they might have. It involves adherence to several accessibility guidelines that help these companies reach a broader market with accurate targeting, enhance user experience and satisfaction, gain competitive advantage, and boost reputation. VPAT also enables companies to find new opportunities for innovation and collaboration and keep going for the longer run. If you are willing to learn more about seamlessly incorporating VPAT in your edtech products, Magic EdTech can provide you with an effective run down through the whole process.


Written By:

Tarveen Kaur

Director, Accessibility Services

Tarveen is an assiduous 16-year veteran of the accessibility field. Her advocacy for inclusive education goes beyond her professional role. Tarveen focuses on enhancing accessibility in educational technology by crafting tailored roadmaps and strategies and establishing targeted approaches that align with specific product requirements. Tarveen is clearing the path for a more accessible future by emphasizing accessibility compliance and developing inclusive digital environments.


A VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) is a document that provides information about how a product or service conforms to accessibility standards. It's important for EdTech products because it ensures that they are usable and beneficial to all consumers, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Creating a VPAT benefits EdTech companies by allowing inclusivity and demonstrating a commitment to accessibility. This can broaden the customer base, enhance customer engagement and satisfaction, and reduce the risk of legal liability.

Developing a VPAT involves assessing the product's compliance with accessibility standards such as Section 508, WCAG 2.1, International (INTL), and EN 301 549. Companies need to understand these standards and evaluate their product accordingly.

Common accessibility standards and guidelines that EdTech companies need to consider include WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, EAA 301549 (Europen Accessibility Standards), and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.

EdTech companies can ensure their products are accessible by designing with accessibility in mind from the outset. This involves incorporating features such as keyboard accessibility, color contrast, and screen reading compatibility.

After developing a VPAT, EdTech companies should communicate the findings with relevant stakeholders, update the VPAT regularly, and prioritize improvements based on the findings to ensure ongoing accessibility and compliance.

EdTech companies need to be aware of legal and regulatory requirements related to accessibility, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the United States, which mandates accessibility for federal agencies and their contractors.

Conducting accessibility audits helps EdTech companies identify barriers that prevent people with disabilities from effectively using and engaging with their products. This ensures that any new barriers are quickly identified and addressed.

Get In Touch

Reach out to our team with your question and our representatives will get back to you within 24 working hours.