As a vendor, what do you do when a Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT) is included in a solicitation? The GPAT identifies government accessibility requirements applicable Section 508 provisions to that acquisition. Here is what you need to do to respond.
The first section of the GPAT is a summary table of the government's accessibility requirements. It identifies the total number of applicable provisions, with notes that further explain these requirements. You need to wait to fill out this summary until after you fill out the rest of the GPAT.
Next the GPAT has a table for each section of the standard with 5 columns, as a vendor you fill out columns four and five.
- Column one is the full text of the provision from the Standard.
- Column two documents the agency's accessibility requirement based on common characteristics or special requirements for the EIT deliverable. There will be a Yes or No in this column based on program need and actual characteristics of the expected deliverable (i.e., Is this provision seen as applicable to the expected deliverable?)
- Column three provides explanatory information about the provision to help both the agency in determining applicability and the vendor in providing accessibility information.
- Column four is for the vendor to check off whether the deliverable meets, partially meets or does not meet the specific provision.
- Column five is for the vendor to provide an explanation of how the deliverable meets or does not meet the specific provision. It is also an opportunity to explain why a deliverable does not have an applicable feature or why it has a feature that was not identified as applicable.
In many cases your deliverable will have extra functionality that the government did not anticipate when they prepared their solicitation. For example say you have a video included in a training module, Section 508 requires you to let the government know how well that functionality meets Section 508, even if they marked video/captioning requirements as not applicable.
Returning to the summary aection, you can now indicate how the accessibility features of your product or service meet these requirements (fully, partially or not al all) for each section of the standard. There is room for notes to summarize accessibility features.
You can see some example GPATs in the GSA Quick Links page. If you want to have the competitive advantage of letting the government know about your commitment to accessibility during their market research, then you can create a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). A VPAT lists the Section 508 provisions you think apply and how well you meet them. You can use the Quick Links or Buy Accessible Wizard to generate a good list of requirements.
If any of the Section 508 technical or functional provisions are confusing, you can check out the Quick Reference Guide which goes over each individual sub-part.
What if the government only included a general statement about Section 508 in their solicitation, with no specifics like a GPAT? Then it is to your advantage to include the VPAT you prepared before.