This article discusses why you need to make your website ADA Compliant if you are doing business with the federal government.
The Federal government spends billions of dollars annually on information and communication technology (ICT) products and services. The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of ICT goods and services.
There are several reasons why the government buys so much ICT. First, the federal government is a vast and complex organization. It has agencies that range from the Department of Defense to the Department of Education. Each agency has its own unique needs when it comes to ICT.
Also, the government uses ICT products and services to connect with citizens. For example, the government uses ICT products and services to provide information about benefits or services online.
Examples of Technology Suppliers
But what About Small Businesses?
Government contracts can be an excellent way for small businesses to get in the door with ICT products and services. There are a few things to keep in mind when bidding on government contracts, however. First, you must ensure that your products and services meet the requirements outlined in the RFP (request for proposal). Second, you must demonstrate that your products and services are the best value for the government’s money. And third, you need a solid marketing plan to ensure that your products and services reach the right people within the government.
As a small business, you may not have the resources to bid on government contracts directly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do business with the government. You can become a sub-contractor to prime contractors like the corporations listed above.
The bottom line is that there are opportunities for small businesses to do business with the government, even if they don’t have the resources to bid on contracts directly. By becoming a sub-contractor, small businesses can get their foot in the door and start building their government business.
Don’t lose out because your website is not accessible.
All information and communication technology (ICT) procured, developed, maintained, or used by Federal agencies must be accessible. ICT includes software, hardware, electronic content, support documentation, and services. If you manufacture, build, design, create, teach, or resell ICT products or services, you are an ICT Vendor. To do business with the Federal government, you must demonstrate that your ICT product or service is accessible and conforms to the Revised 508 Standards.
The easiest way to showcase information about product accessibility to government buyers is to use a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT®) to create an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR).
Start with VPAT
The VPAT can be a valuable marketing tool, as it demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and provides information about the accessibility features of your products and services. Providing a VPAT shows that you are knowledgeable about accessibility requirements and committed to meeting all customers’ needs, including those with disabilities.
What is an ACR?
An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a document that provides information regarding the level of accessibility of a product based on Section 508 Technical Standards.
Is an ACR voluntary?
No. This confusion likely comes from “Voluntary” in the VPAT acronym. While using the VPAT is voluntary to generate an ACR, the requirement for Federal agencies to obtain ACRs is not voluntary.
The government buys a lot of ICT products and services because it is a large and complex organization with many agencies that have different needs. Many technology companies do business with the federal government, but small businesses can get involved by becoming sub-contractors. All ICT procured by the government must be accessible, so vendors must have a solid understanding of accessibility standards. Creating an Accessibility Conformance Report is voluntary, but it is an excellent way to showcase a product’s accessibility to potential government buyers.
Michael Horton, Accessible Design & Development Advisor for the Office of Government-wide Policy, discussing Section 508 Web Testing using Trusted Tester and Automated Tools. Michael gives viewers an in-depth overview as to how developers can use the Trusted Tester program in coordination with automated tools to develop more accessible websites.
Next, we will discuss a roadmap to simplify the process of completing the VPAT template.