The Board plans to initiate steps this summer to review and update its access standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. These standards cover products and technologies procured by the Federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, phone systems, fax machines, and copiers, among others. The constantly changing nature of the technologies covered necessitates periodic reviews of these standards. This effort, which will be the first update of the standards since their publication in late 2000, will address new or convergent types of technologies and other areas where the standards need to be revisited. The Board considers it important that this work be coordinated on an international scale.
As part of this effort, the Board also plans to update its guidelines for telecommunications products and equipment covered by the Telecommunications Act. Section 255 of this act ensures access to telecommunications products and services. Issued in 1998, the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines provide operating characteristics and product capabilities necessary for access. Provisions in the section 508 standards for telecommunication products are based on these guidelines. However, the Telecommunications Act guidelines are not limited to technologies procured by the Federal government and apply to products designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S.
The Board plans to organize an advisory committee to review its standards and guidelines and to recommend changes. In conducting this update, the Board will coordinate its work with international organizations, such as the European Union (EU), and other nations in order to advance global harmonization and standardization. As a first step in this effort, the Board and other Federal agencies met with EU representatives in February to exchange information on access standards for information technology. In addition, the Board will seek to further harmonize revisions with other standards and guidelines for the technologies covered, such as those issued by World Wide Web Consortium.
Additional rulemaking efforts under consideration by the Board include an update of the Board’s accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles and communication access. The Board’s vehicle guidelines, which were issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1991, cover various modes of transportation, including buses, vans, rail cars, and trams, among others. The Board plans to review these guidelines to determine whether any updates or revisions are necessary. The Board also will explore developing supplementary guidelines on communication access for various types of elements, including point of sales machines, interactive transaction machines, communication devices for drive-through services, public address systems, and certain types of alarms, such as carbon monoxide detectors, that are not currently addressed by the Board’s guidelines.
For further information on the update of the 508 standards and the telecommunications guidelines, contact Tim Creagan at firstname.lastname@example.org (include "508 refresh" in the subject head).