ASL Interpreter helping a student and professor communicate in class
Professor presenting a slideshow to his class
Guest speaker, Ken Petry, speaks at a past Access MU symposium to a large audience
The varsity hockey team glides across the ice with members of the Best Buddies Choir


All web technology or software that Miami procures for use by its students shall conform to the relevant accessibility standards as long as the technology is commercially available and its purchase does not result in undue financial and administrative burdens or a fundamental alteration of the web technology or software. If a product is available and meets some, but not all, of the relevant accessibility standards, Miami will procure the product that best meets the standard, unless its purchase would result in undue financial and administrative burdens or a fundamental alteration, or unless an exception applies pursuant to Miami's Accessible Technology Procurement Policy. 

Read exception criteria and list

Accessibility Review and the VPAT

If you or your department is considering a technology purchase or contract renewal, or if want to see if a current technology is accessible, you must submit the Client/Vendor Engagement, Procurement Request, or Current Application Review form. (You will be kept up to date through IT's Team Dynamics system as the AT Team works to process your submission.)

Along with the form, a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, should be submitted. Initially developed in 2001 by the federal government, the VPAT is a vendor-generated statement that provides relevant information on how a vendor's product or service claims to conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA standards. The basis for VPAT documents is the University accessibility standard, which combines Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) WCAG 2.0. (When the Section 508 "refresh" is complete, it will map to WCAG where appropriate, and only one VPAT document will exist.) The AT Team will use the VPAT to help determine the level of accessibility of the product or service. 

Even if the vendor has a VPAT readily available, it may not cover all the areas Miami is reviewing. For example, in some instances, only Section 508 1194.22 (Web-based applications) is covered. However since the Section 508 standards are old and out of date, the functionality of the software goes beyond that of Section 508 1194.22 and thus will require additional sections to be completed and submitted for review. To see what information the VPAT is expected to provide, see VPAT Guidance

At times, the AT Team will need to test the application or product for accessibility. Therefore we may ask for access to the current application to test or request access to a demo from the vendor. Any assistance you can provide to gain this access helps ensure a smoother process. Finally, based upon our findings, it is likely we'll ask the vendor for a roadmap with a timeline to show the updates of the product to include accessibility.

How do I read a VPAT?

A simple answer to this is, if there are less "supports" than anything else on the document, we have a problem. If there are a lot of "supports with exception," does it mention the exception? If it doesn't, we have a problem. If we do have most of these two answers and the exceptions are documented then we're on a good track and can work with what we have/need. More to come to help understand, read and score a VPAT soon.

What if a vendor doesn't have a VPAT?

If the vendor does not have a VPAT, see VPAT Guidance. (If a vendor is not familiar with the VPAT or seems hesitant to reveal such details, chances are they haven't incorporated accessibility into their product.)