Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

A document detailing how Eli Review does or does not conform to Section 508 Accessibility Standards

I prepared versions of the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (or VPAT, via Section508.gov) for Eli Review in 2010 and again in 2018 when version 2 of the template was released. The 2018 version of the VPAT is publicly available on the Eli Review support site.

The purpose of this document, according to Section 508:

A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT™) is a document that explains how information and communication technology (ICT) products such as software, hardware, electronic content, and support documentation meet (conform to) the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility. VPATs™ help Federal agency contracting officials and government buyers to assess ICT for accessibility when doing market research and evaluating proposals.

Screenshot from the 2018 update to the VPAT to conform with version 2 of the template.

The VPAT has been particularly useful for us when institutions consider large adoptions but have had questions about accessibility, privacy, and security. Having answered to the VPAT’s questions prepared in advance has helped us expedite assessment processes at a number of universities, addressing many of the common questions IT managers or auditors have when determining whether Eli Review conforms to their academic technology requirements.

It’s a lengthy document but preparing answers was relatively straightforward for us because we designed Eli to be as standards-compliant as possible. We’ve continued to adapt the platform as web standards have evolved out of a desire to support as many users as best as possible. But by taking some obvious design approaches from the earliest versions – not embedding content in images, for example, or relying on multimedia – we maintain compliance very easily.

Photo from an institutional presentation about Eli Review's accessibility and our VPAT

Most accessibility assessments of Eli Review draw the same conclusion, but this one referencing the VPAT specifically gives us high marks for honesty and support. This was the assessment from that presentation:

At our faculty development meetings before the spring semester began, our ADA compliance guy presented some info about the degree to which the college’s various online learning programs comply with ADA requirements, and he was by FAR most impressed with Eli. He made a pretty big deal of it, even though he knows Jamie and I are just piloting the program.