Imagine your top-tier Human Resources (HR) technology company is up for a major deal with a large government institution. You’re bidding for the chance to transform its careers portal, performance management system, employee benefits administration, or even payroll system. You’ve got the talent and technology. You’ve got plenty of qualified experience, and maybe you even have a high-level influencer recommendation. What could go wrong?
The prospect asks for your VPAT. “Our what?”, you say. If you don’t know what a VPAT is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Companies often learn what a VPAT is at the moment they discover it is necessary for the bidding process.
What’s a VPAT and Why Care About It Now
A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It’s how information and communications technology companies document the extent to which their hardware, software, digital content, and user manuals meet accessibility standards. Importantly, having a VPAT is also a critical criterion for eligibility to serve government institutions in the United States and around the world.
The trick is to understand and address the VPAT requirement before you’re in the middle of a bid for an important project. Leaving this out can make the process much more difficult. Including one could make the difference between being in the running and being out.
How a Human Resources Technology Firm Fast-Tracked Inclusion
The scenario above is real-life. A leading HR Technology firm was being considered for a major government contract when the would-be client asked for their VPAT. They needed to formalize the documentation of their application’s compliance to international accessibility guidelines quickly to avoid disqualification. Rather than redirect their teams from their ongoing projects, and to make the process as unobtrusive and efficient as possible, they sought out a partner that could help them quickly identify the opportunities for improvement and effectively consult with their developers as they updated the code.
Having begun their audit and remediation journey over a year earlier to introduce universal design and accessibility best practices within the company, they were already familiar with the level of effort required and knew all too well that company-wide adoption of accessibility could not happen overnight. Needing the VPAT within several weeks to continue the bidding process expedited the formalization of their effort.
Getting Ahead of the VPAT Process
Quick work is one way to stay in the game, but it’s not the only way. Technology leaders have an important opportunity to serve more customers by ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and win more business with entities that require compliance per Section 508, those who have policies to purchase accessible technology, as well as those who are committed to doing the right thing.
Getting ahead of the game by engaging an accessibility partner early in the development stage of your product’s life cycle improves both the user experience and market results. Working with accessibility experts allows website and application developers to rely on those who specialize in accessibility for recommendations while they focus on implementing the necessary code updates in the upfront architecture. Having accessible code upfront empowers companies to avoid difficult accessibility challenges and rework.
We are proud that ilumino was selected as the accessibility provider for this project. Our ability to integrate into the client’s existing process and cover all the bases in a quick and custom fashion was the key. Many companies rely on a purely automated solution; which is insufficient for obtaining a VPAT. Our deep understanding of the criteria, intensive manual testing and code-level remediation experience facilitated an accelerated and successful VPAT process.
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