How to use a VPAT to measure accessibility

The WMS handles many aspects of accessibility compliance for you. But custom and licensed websites (or applications) require extra work. 
Image by Photo by Jakub Pabis on Unsplash.

What's a VPAT?

VPAT stands for "Voluntary Product Accessibility Template." It's the standard document used to demonstrate compliance with WCAG accessibility guidelines. WCAG compliance is a legal requirement for many organizations (including public institutions in Quebec). Note that Quebec's accessibility standard (the Standard sur l’accessibilité des sites Web) is only available in French. 

Technically, VPAT refers to the empty template. Once it's filled out, the appropriate term is ACR (which stands for Accessibility Conformance Report). However, VPAT is a widely used term and most organizations will recognize that you want a completed template if you ask about a VPAT.

Do I need one?

Every McGill site or application should have an accessibility assessment in order to make sure we comply with Quebec law. However, IT typically handles this for centrally managed platforms (including the WMS). This is another good reason to choose an existing, centrally supported system rather than building a custom site or application

If you're using (or plan to use) a McGill-branded system that isn't centrally managed, your project will need an ACR. This includes:

  • Licensed software
  • Websites outside the WMS (including those built in WordPress or Drupal)
  • Applications that aren't developed or managed by McGill IT staff

As the owner or sponsor of a website or application, it's your responsibility to make sure that a VPAT assessment is done and the ACR is kept up to date. Take a look at our "How to use a VPAT template" resource to learn how. 

Helpful resources

Does this seem like a lot to handle? Maybe you should consider building your website in the WMS or another centrally-managed platform. Consult with our team to learn more about your options. 

Want to do a deep dive into digital accessibility? The "How to use a VPAT template" resource will show you how to prepare or evaluate an ACR (depending on what works for your project). McGill's accessibility page also has tons of helpful links, resources, and tools. 

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