Accessibility in Procurement: How to Read a VPAT


Presented at 11:15am in Gov Square 12 on Thursday, November 18, 2021.



  • Terrill Thompson, Manager, IT Accessibility Team, University of Washington

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


At the University of Washington, most IT products and services are procured with no help from accessibility experts. Therefore, decision makers must be able to evaluate accessibility risk on their own. This session will discuss how we do this at the UW, and will demo the training we provide to stakeholders on how to read a VPAT.


Anyone who makes IT procurement decisions is assuming risk on behalf of their institution. As the risk owner, they must take steps to ensure the product or service they're procuring is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. How do they do that if they have no IT accessibility expertise? This session will describe how accessibility is addressed in the procurement process at the University of Washington. For major, high-impact products and services, UW-IT Accessible Technology Services (ATS) can help, but there are practical limits to their involvement. For all others, our focus is on training risk owners to perform basic accessibility reviews using the vendor's Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). This session will demonstrate the training provided to UW stakeholders on how to read a VPAT, focused on what they can learn from VPATs without being an accessibility expert.


  1. The UW's process for evaluating risk in procurement may or may not involve help from accessibility experts.
  2. People making IT procurement decisions need to learn some basic methods for assessing accessibility risk.
  3. One can learn a lot about a company by following a few simple steps when reviewing their VPAT.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Procurement, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Terrill Thompson

Terrill Thompson is manager of the IT Accessibility Team at the University of Washington.