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Showing Commitment to Digital Accessibility With a VPAT


Accessibility is a critical aspect of website design and development. It ensures individuals with disabilities can access and use information, services, and products, and it is not only a legal requirement but also a moral and ethical responsibility. Websites that are not accessible can cause frustration for users with disabilities and potentially lead to lost business.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) can be a valuable tool for website owners and developers to assess and improve the accessibility of their websites. By creating and publishing a VPAT, website owners can demonstrate their commitment to accessibility and inclusivity and provide users with the information they need to determine if a website is accessible.

What are Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT)?

VPATs are documents that provide information about a website’s conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG lays out standard web accessibility requirements for text alternatives, color contrast, and keyboard navigation. Although they are not legally required, VPATs are generally used to demonstrate a website’s commitment to accessibility.  This information can identify areas where a product or service needs to be improved to make it more accessible to people with disabilities. 

It also creates an Accessibility Conformance Report which states which accessibility standards are met and warns about any accessibility blockers. Think of it as a “Nutrition Facts” label for your website. It gives customers an idea of how accessible your product is for people with disabilities.

In the context of WordPress, VPAT accessibility refers to the accessibility features of a WordPress theme. WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems because the open-source platform allows users to create and manage their websites easily. However, this means many WordPress themes and plugins may result in WCAG guideline violations.

A VPAT is an excellent way for organizations using WordPress to assess and display the accessibility of their websites. It can help them understand how accessible their websites are and identify the necessary areas for improvement.

Why is a VPAT Important to Have on a WordPress Website?

Having a VPAT on your WordPress website is particularly important for compliance with accessibility laws and regulations like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as a VPAT can be used to demonstrate compliance. This act requires federal agencies and businesses that get federal funding to develop and maintain accessible websites.  

If your company is intending on working with a federal agency a VPAT is necessary to have. If not, a VPAT may still be in your best interest as it reassures your visitors that digital accessibility was considered and worked on as part of the web development process. With accessibility lawsuits on the rise, some may see having a VPAT as a form of safeguarding against litigation.


How to Get a VPAT on Your WordPress Website

To get a VPAT on your WordPress website, you can download and fill out the template or have your website evaluated by a professional accessibility auditor. This will involve a detailed review of your website to identify any accessibility issues or limitations and to provide recommendations for improvement. 

You can also use accessibility testing tools that can automate the process of identifying accessibility issues, and they will scan your website and provide you with a report of its findings. 

In conclusion, accessibility is essential for website design and development. VPATs can help developers improve the accessibility of their websites by providing information on their WCAG conformance. Therefore, VPATs can help your WordPress website become more accessible to everyone. 

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