Accessibility template guidelines

The Information Technology Industry Council of Washington said it had published best practices for use of a template that IT vendors can use to describe the accessibility features of their products.

The product accessibility template, dubbed the VPAT, was developed last year to help government agencies comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Since June 2001, federal agencies have been required to purchase electronic and information technologies that are accessible to all government employees ? and in some cases to private citizens ? with disabilities. More than 120,000 federal employees have disabilities, according to ITI.

ITI's "Best Practices for Electronic and Information Technology Vendors" provides businesses with basic guidelines for filling out the VPAT and promotes consistency in the methods used to complete it. The best practices can be found at www.itic.org/policy/508/Sec508.html.

The VPAT (www.itic.org/policy/vpat.html) is a free online assessment tool developed by ITI and the General Services Administration last summer. It helps federal procurement officials fulfill market research requirements to determine whether electronic and information technology products and services are accessible to people with disabilities.

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