Federal contracting officials and other buyers need information about how a product or service conforms to the Section 508 Accessibility Standards from the U.S. Access Board. Section 508 certification doesn't exist - so agencies must rely on available information and testing results.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that may be generated by a vendor to indicate a product's conformance with the Section 508 accessibility standards. The Template was designed to provide in formation in a consistent and comparable fashion and format. It was developed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to assist with federal procurement practices. Complete information about the VPAT is available at the ITI website.
The purpose of the VPAT is to assist Federal contracting officials and other buyers in their market research responsibility when making preliminary assessments regarding the commercial availability of Electronic and Information Technology products and services with features that support accessibility. In general, Vendors should generate a VPAT whenever they develop EIT products or services that to be sold in the Federal market place. In each VPAT, the vendor is expected to make specific statements using simple recommended language about how the features and functional characteristics of their product or service meet the Section 508 Standards.
Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT)
The Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT) is a statement of accessibility requirements as determined by a government agency for EIT products or services they intend to acquire. The government can require vendors to provide information about how their proposed EIT meets the identified Section 508 accessibility requirements. This information is often requested by providing the vendor a GPAT to indicate the applicable Section 508 Standards that are contract requirements, and requiring that it be completed by the vendor. In this case, the information is not voluntary but is required as part of the formal response to a government solicitation or when providing an EIT deliverable. For consistency, the GPAT uses the same standard format as the VPAT.
The GPAT reflects accessibility requirements determined by the government agency that must be addressed by the vendor. In contrast, the VPAT is a reflection of how a vendor aligns their product features and functional characteristics with the Section 508 Standards. Note that contract requirements may or may not match features, and vendor described features may or may not match requirements.