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Written by Iris García García August 29, 2023

Many website owners that are learning about how to make their site or product accessible find out that they may need a VPAT or ACR to prove their accessibility to costumers or government. However, after reading the Revised 508 standards, they find no reference about it. 

So, first things first: what is a VPAT? Is it the same as ACR? Well, not exactly.


VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, and it is a document developed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in partnership with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). It explains how information and communication technology (ICT) products such as software, hardware, electronic content and support documentation comply with different IT accessibility standards.

The first version of this template was based on federal Section 508 Standards, but ITI has created different editions of the VPAT in the last years focused on the standards relevant to specific markets and contract requirements such us WCAG 2.0/2.1 (worldwide), EN 301 549 (EU) or all of them.

As its own name says, VPAT is just a blank template, free to download from ITI website (check this link to find all of them) by anyone who needs it.


On the other hand, ACR stands for Accessibility Conformance Report, which basically is the result of a completed VPAT. So as it can be seen, they are not the same. However, the confusion lies in the misuse of the acronym VPAT by the marketplace: while looking up information about the Report, you can find in many sites talking about the VPAT when they actually mean the ACR. Remember, the VPAT is just the empty template while ACR refers to the filled document. If someone asks for the VPAT of a product, what they really want is an ACR. Of course, there are other methods to create an ACR, but the most common one is by using the VPAT.

In any case, the purpose of an ACR is to provide buyers of Information and Communication Technology with knowledge about a product’s accessibility compliance level. It is a great way to help customers to compare similar products and choose the one that best meets accessibility standards.

And in case anyone is wondering what an “Information and Communication Technology product” is, here are some examples:

Who needs to create an ACR?

As can be seen in our article about it, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that U.S. Federal government agencies ensure that any information and communications technology (ICT) they develop, procure, maintain, or use meets certain accessibility standards.

Then, VPAT was specifically created so that vendors, federal or private that work with federal agencies, could easily provide that kind of documentation. That way, Federal agency contracting officials and government buyers could assess a product’s accessibility when doing market research and evaluating proposal.

However, nowadays this isn’t just about complying with some government requirement. Even if a vendor does not work with any federal organization, being accessible, and thus, offering an ACR has proven worth the effort. Not only there are plenty of organizations that want or need the products they require to be accessible to everyone, but it also benefits potential consumers in general since people with disabilities are using more and more the Internet to make purchases or find services.

To sum up, if a vendor does not work with the government, any federal agency or any federal related organization, they are not compelled by law to have an ACR. But don't forget that even non-governmental organizations may require to provide an ACR, such as private schools or universities. Then, although having an ACR is not mandatory per se, it is an exercise in transparency. It represents how accessible a product, service, website, or other digital property is, which does not just benefit potential customers, it is also a tool for finding those places where your current offering may be falling short.

Is having an ACR the same as an accessibility audit?

No, it is not. In theory, while anyone can fill in a VPAT to offer an ACR, accessibility audits go into much greater detail than an ACR, and it can (and should) only be performed by accessibility experts that have enough knowledge about standards and accessibility requirements to ensure a site’s compliance.

But this does not mean that anyone should fill in a VPAT. To stay competitive, a digital product needs to have ACRs to send to procurement departments and customers that require so, but they need to contain reliable and accurate information. Since most companies don’t have an internal team of technical accessibility specialist, they are not able to produce a good ACR.

This is why many accessibility professionals offer to create an ACR as part of their audit service, such as ADDAW. With our audits, we will provide a VPAT based ACR so you can offer it to prove the accessibility of your product or service.


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Iris García García

Writer, proofreader, and translator of texts with good knowledge of office and general computer skills. These are three specialties that allow me to be in constant learning because language never stops evolving, and that is something beautiful.

Financiado por la unión europea Gobierno de españa Plan de recuperación transformación y resilencia kit digital