ACR: Accessibility Conformance Report (vs. VPAT)

man signing document

The Accessibility Conformance Report or ACR is a completed VPAT® + all the essential information about the report itself.

The difference between VPAT and ACR is the source of moderate confusion so let’s unpack everything.

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT is just that — a blank template that can be filled out to account for a product or service’s state of accessibility.

An ACR is a completed VPAT (i.e., the blank template is filled out) along with all of the other details in the report.

In the marketplace, the term VPAT dominates, even though it’s usage is technically incorrect.

You’ll often hear procurement departments ask for a VPAT but what they’re really asking for is an ACR.

At a minimum, an ACR must include:

  • Report Title: “[Company Name] Accessibility Conformance Report”
  • VPAT version
  • Name of Product (and version, if applicable)
  • Product description
  • Date of Publication
  • Contact information
  • Evaluation Methods Used
  • Applicable standards: WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1, Revised Section 508, EN 301 549

This guide contains the basic information. If you need to complete an ACR, read the full instructions for completing an ACR on FDIC.gov.

The Information Technology Industry Council or ITI (creators of the VPAT) also recommend the following best practices in creating an ACR:

  • Include a branded header with logo or entity information
  • Date changes if the report is revised
  • Any notes applicable to the product or report including links or product description
  • legal disclaimers

Of course, the main course — and the most important part of an ACR — is the filled-out accessibility template.

You can read about what you need to complete a VPAT along with additional explanation on the difference between a VPAT vs. an ACR in my VPAT guide.

An ACR is not an audit.

An audit goes into much greater detail than an ACR.

If you have an accessibility audit performed, you can usually get an ACR at a much lower cost, if not included with the price of the audit.

It’s optimal to have an independent, expert third-party expert specializing in digital accessibility issue your ACR vs. creating your own ACR in-house.

To stay competitive in 2021, your organization needs to have ACRs to send to procurement departments but they need to contain reliable and accurate information.

Unless your organization has an internal team consisting of a technical accessibility specialists, you won’t be able to produce a good ACR.

There are reputable third-party companies who can issue accurate ACRs for your organization.

VPAT / ACR services are offered by reputable companies but vetting providers is extremely important. The last thing you want to do is waste time and money paying thousands of dollars to a scam vendor.

For example, some accessibility overlay vendors (the ones that claim instant accessibility) market VPAT services. VPATs issued from an overlay vendor lack any credibility; you’d need to get another VPAT from a real, established company.

ACRs are not for websites or mobile apps but for products and, sometimes, services.

For example, software or a game application would be prime examples where an ACR is called for.

For non-product websites or apps, ask your accessibility provider for a conformance statement (that speaks directly to WCAG 2.0 AA or 2.1 AA) and/or certification.