About the OZeWAI Product Accessibility List (PAL)

Using the PAL to check products

The OZeWAI Product Accessibility List (PAL) – BETA is a quick and easy way to validate the accessibility of software products.

This product list is best used at the Market Scan phase of the Procurement process. PAL is designed to offer an initial understanding of the accessibility of a product, and is not intended to replace a more detailed assessment of product accessibility during the procurement process.

The PAL score is created from public information shared by the vendor about the product, specifically an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) or a VPAT.

About ACRs and VPATs

An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is based on a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) created by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC).

VPATs are used to create ACRs. In practice, the acronyms VPAT and ACR are used interchangeably.

An ACR is the result of completing a blank template, referred to as a VPAT. In the marketplace, the term VPAT dominates, even though its usage is technically incorrect because a VPAT is a blank template.

A product’s ACR assists buyers and sellers to assess whether ICT products and services comply with a list of accessibility criteria, such as: Section 508 (US), EN 301 549 (EU/AUS), and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

An ACR will assign a conformance level of ‘Supports’, ‘Partially Supports’, ‘Does Not Support’, ‘Not Applicable’, or ‘Not Evaluated’ to each success criterion.

The quality of ACRs can vary, depending on whether they are created in-house or via a reputable third party service provider. Never-the-less, an ACR can be very useful for understanding the accessibility of products and services.

Using the ACR to score a product

The OZeWAI PAL scores products by adding up the total number of ‘Partially Supports’ (or equivalent such as ‘Supports with Exceptions’), or ‘Does Not Support’ ratings for each product. The higher the score, the worse the accessibility rating of the product.

The score is also expressed as a percentage. Conformance of 100% is assumed and then downgrade the percentage for each failure. ‘Partially Supports’ and ‘Supports with Exceptions’ are both regarded as failures.

Benefits of using the PAL

Organisations that want a high-level view of the accessibility of their core applications can use a tally of known issues to rate the accessibility of various relevant products. A tally of known defects can also be useful when evaluating new products and services.

The OZeWAI PAL can be used to:

  • Find and check an ACR for a product quickly and in one place.
  • Validate the accessibility status of their existing ICT products.
  • Check how accessible newly procured software will be, relative to existing products.
  • Make an informed decision on what products to buy and be informed on a Vendor’s processes for inclusiveness and accessibility compliance.
  • Crowd-source accessibility information in relation to products.

PAL scoring approach

OZeWAI uses a spreadsheet to gather the product details and the ACR details, or lack of, to determine a score. The details and formulas are available for anyone to use internally to assess their own list of products, or for vendors to list their products against others to compare.

The process used by OZeWAI is manual, and is done by volunteers and members. If you are interested in assisting us in this project, please contact us.

Download the Product Accessibility List (PAL) – scoring worksheet and use it internally to check the accessibility of a product, using these instructions:

  1. Locate the ACR for the product either by doing a web search or asking the vendor directly.
  2. Find the ‘Conformance Level’ column in both the ‘Table 1: Level A Success Criteria’ and the ‘Table 2: Level AA Success Criteria’.
  3. Tally up all the criteria that are marked either ‘Partially Supports’, ‘Supports with Exceptions’, or ‘Does Not Support’.
  4. Enter the score in the spreadsheet together with the product name, version, and URL of the ACR.
  5. If the vendor does not have a ACR or they require you to sign a non-disclosure agreement, leave WCAG Errors blank. Five poinst are added to the highest number of known errors from other products as a penalty.

PAL updates and feedback

  • Use the send a product form to share products for OZeWAI to score and add to the PAL
  • Use the OZeWAI Forum to share ideas on how you are using the OZeWAI PAL, to share feedback and comments on product scores and how we can improve the OZeWAI PAL.
  • Are you a Vendor and not sure where to get accessibility help? Use the OZeWAI Consultant Directory to find an Accessibility Specialist. If you have a roadmap or accessibility pages and links or information to share, add your details to the send a product form to improve our understanding of your product.
  • Are you buying a product? Then review the Product details section of the working spreadsheet, as a vendor may be working to improve their product and have a roadmap and support information to share.