What’s New in the VPAT 2.5 and Why It Matters
- 7 December, 2023
- Reading Time: 6 mins
Ensuring accessibility in technology isn’t simply an added feature; it’s a necessity that dictates equal opportunities for all individuals. The impact of technology spans various facets of our lives, yet its true effect is realized only when it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
In striving for inclusivity, the significance of accessibility reports, such as Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs), cannot be overstated. These reports serve as comprehensive guides, detailing the level of accessibility a product or service offers for individuals with diverse needs. They highlight areas of compliance and provide insights into how well a product caters to various disabilities, paving the way for informed decisions in selecting inclusive tools.
These accessibility reports aren’t just a matter of meeting standards; it’s about fostering an environment where every user can fully participate. As technology advances, so do the standards for inclusivity. The evolution of guidelines like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) reflects the commitment to accommodating the diverse requirements of individuals with disabilities within the changing technological environment.
In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the significance of VPATs, unpack the key enhancements the new version 2.5 brings, and discuss why its advancements matter in creating a more inclusive learning environment for all.
What are VPATs?
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a pivotal tool in evaluating the accessibility of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products such as software, hardware, applications, and digital platforms. Developed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), VPATs provide a standardized reporting format that assesses how well a technology product conforms to accessibility standards and guidelines.
At its core, a VPAT offers a structured way for vendors to communicate the level of accessibility their products offer. This reporting format outlines how a product aligns with various accessibility criteria, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and other recognized standards. It categorizes product features and functionalities, indicating areas of compliance and non-compliance with accessibility requirements.
Building upon its predecessors, VPAT version 2.5 released in September 2023 continues its legacy as a standardized reporting format while introducing crucial refinements that enhance the evaluation process.
What’s New in Version 2.5?
The new version 2.5 aims to provide a more comprehensive assessment while refining the reporting structure, offering stakeholders a deeper understanding of product accessibility.
It brings forth several notable enhancements across different editions, aimed at refining the evaluation and reporting of accessibility compliance. To ensure consistency and clarity, updates have been implemented across all editions, marking the revision in the header as 2.5. A crucial change involves making the definition language uniform for the term “Not Evaluated,” refining its usage in the assessments.
Within the WCAG Edition and INT Edition, significant strides have been made to align with evolving standards. The update includes comprehensive support for WCAG 2.2, involving adjustments in instructions, applicable standards/guidelines tables, and the incorporation of nine new criteria into the WCAG tables. Additionally, there’s a notable mention of the removal of 4.1.1 Parsing for WCAG 2.2, marking it as obsolete. Interestingly, it has been indicated that 4.1.1 Parsing automatically “Supports” for WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, streamlining the assessment process for these criteria.
The EU Edition has undergone specific updates aimed at enhancing completeness. This version now incorporates previously missing criteria in Table 3: Success Criteria, Level AAA, including 3.1.5, 3.1.6, 3.2.5, 3.3.5, and 3.3.6. Furthermore, the update rectifies a typo in the instructions, ensuring greater accuracy in the assessment process.
Dedicated to 508 compliance, the edition highlights the automatic “Supports” status for 4.1.1 Parsing concerning WCAG 2.0, reflecting the alignment with these guidelines.
Overall, the release of VPAT 2.5 templates is a concerted effort to adapt to evolving accessibility standards and enhance the assessment process across different editions. These updates aim to offer more comprehensive and accurate evaluations while ensuring alignment with the latest guidelines and criteria.