Access Currents: July/ August 2012

 


Board to Lead Effort to Develop Guidance on Accessible Drug Labels pill bottle

The Board will lead an effort to develop guidance on making prescription drug labels accessible to people with vision impairments under a new law, the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act." The act, which includes measures to promote drug safety and to improve FDA procedures for reviewing new medicines and medical devices, authorizes the Board to convene a stakeholder working group to develop best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are visually impaired or who are elderly.

The stakeholder group, which will include representation from advocacy organizations and from industry, will develop best practices for pharmacies on providing independent access to prescription drug container labels. The group will explore various alternatives, including braille, large print labels, and various auditory technologies such as "talking bottles" and radio frequency identification tags. The group's recommendations, which are to be developed within one year, will be advisory only, not mandatory, and will not have the force of guidelines or standards.

The law also calls upon the National Council on Disability to conduct an informational and educational campaign in cooperation with the stakeholder working group to inform the public, including people with disabilities and pharmacists, of the best practices. The Government Accountability Office will undertake a review at a later date to assess the extent to which pharmacies are following the best practices and to what extent barriers to information on prescription drug container labels remain.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Marsha Mazz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0020 (v), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY). Those interested in this initiative can sign up to receive further updates.

 


Board Forms Advisory Committee on Medical Diagnostic Equipment

The Board has named an advisory committee to provide recommendations on new standards for medical diagnostic equipment that were released for public comment earlier this year. The Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee will advise the Board on matters associated with the comments the Board received and information it requested in proposing the standards. Members of the committee include representatives from:

  • The ADA National Network
  • Boston Center for Independent Living
  • Brewer Company
  • Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc.
  • Duke University and Medical Center
  • Equal Rights Center
  • Evan Terry Associates, P.C.
  • GE Healthcare
  • Harris Family Center for Disability and Health Policy at Western University of Health Sciences
  • Hausmann Industries, Inc.
  • Hill-Rom Company, Inc.
  • Hologic, Inc.
  • Medical Positioning, Inc.
  • Medical Technology Industries, Inc.
  • Midmark Corporation
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Philips Healthcare
  • Scale-Tronix, Inc.
  • Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc.
  • Stryker Medical
  • Sutter Health
  • United Spinal Association
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Department of Occupational Therapy

Representatives from the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Veterans Affairs will serve as ex officio members of the committee. The committee is structured to represent a balanced cross section of stakeholders and interested parties. Members were selected based on responses to a Board request for nominations. The Board regrets not being able to accommodate all requests for committee membership.

The committee will hold its first meeting September 27 and 28 at the Board's Conference Center at 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. Committee meetings are open to the public. The committee is expected to meet several times over the next few months.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Rex Pace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0023 (v), or (202) 272-0052 (TTY). Those interested in this rulemaking and the work of the committee can sign up to receive further updates.

 


Board Seeks Information on Bus Ramps in Update of Vehicle Guidelines
The Board is reopening the comment period on proposed updates to its ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles to collect additional information on bus ramps. As part of this effort, the Board will hold public meetings in September and October to discuss the usability and impacts of certain bus ramp designs that have been implemented more recently. This information will be used to finalize proposed updates to sections of the guidelines covering buses and vans.

In 2010, the Board released for public comment a proposal to update sections of the vehicle guidelines covering buses and vans. The proposed rule included revisions to technical specifications for vehicle ramps, onboard circulation routes, wheelchair spaces, and securement systems. To improve accessibility, the Board proposed reducing the maximum slope of vehicle ramps.

The Board, which is finalizing the updated guidelines according to the public comments received, recently has been made aware of a specific bus ramp design that is responsive to the proposed slope reduction but that may impact usability. This design allows a portion of deployed ramps to remain inside the vehicle to minimize their exterior projection. Questions have arisen about this type of design, including grade breaks that occur on ramp runs, reduced maneuvering space at the top of ramps, and access to fare collection devices. This information and correspondence received by the Board have been placed in the rulemaking docket which is available online at regulations.gov.

To further examine this ramp design and to collect additional information and feedback from the public, the Board is re-opening the docket, as indicated in a published notice. The Board will hold a public meeting on the subject on September 19 from 9:30 to 1:30 at its conference center at 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 800 in Washington, D.C. The Board plans to hold a second meeting the first week of October at the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in Seattle and will release further details at a later date. Bus and ramp manufacturers, transit operators, disability organizations, researchers, and interested individuals are encouraged to attend these meetings and to submit comment. Written comments will be accepted until October 31 and can be submitted through the regulations.gov website.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Scott Windley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0025 (voice), or (202) 272-0028 (TTY).

Public Meetings on Bus Ramps and
Updates to the ADA Vehicle Guidelines

September 19, 9:30 – 1:30
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC

Note: A second meeting is planned for early
October at the APTA annual meeting in Seattle

 


Public Submits Comments on Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Housing
On August 17, the comment period closed on a Board proposed rule to address access to emergency transportable housing. The proposal would supplement the ADA and ABA guidelines by adding provisions that specifically address temporary housing units provided by the government in emergencies and natural disasters. It also would modify requirements in the guidelines for ramps, floor surfaces, kitchens, showers, and bedrooms in these types of units. Comments received from the public can be viewed online at regulations.gov. During the comment period, the Board held a public hearing and received feedback from interested parties. The Board will proceed to finalize the rule based on the information received. Further information on this rulemaking is available on the Board's website.

 


Upcoming Board Webinar to Cover Webinar Accessibility
The next webinar in the Board's monthly series will take place September 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover webinar accessibility. The session will review the use of interactive features, captioning, audio connections, and other features to ensure that webinars are accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. The webinar will be conducted by Peggy Greenwell, the Board's Training Coordinator, and Robin Jones, Director of the Great Lakes National ADA Center, the organization that has teamed up with the Board to make its popular webinar series possible.

To register for this free webinar, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site.

Future webinars in the series will cover:

  • Assistive Listening Systems (October 4)
  • Accessible Amusement Rides (November 1)
  • Medical Diagnostic Equipment (December 6)

 


Census Bureau Releases Updated Disability StatisticsCensus Bureau report coverThe U.S. Census Bureau has released updated statistics on the population of people with disabilities in the U.S. According to the new figures, 56.7 Americans (18.7% of the population) have some type of disability. Of this number, an estimated 38.3 million (12.6%) have a disability characterized as "severe."

The findings, which are contained in a study based on the Bureau's 2010 Survey of Income and Program Participation, also provide estimates on the prevalence of different types of disability:

  • vision impairment: 8.1 million (3.3%)
  • hearing impairment: 7.6 million (3.1%)
  • difficulty walking or climbing stairs: 30.6 million (12.6%), including people who use wheelchairs (3.6 million) and canes, crutches, or walkers (11.6 million)
  • difficulty lifting or grasping: 19.9 million (8.2%)
  • cognitive, mental, or emotional impairments: 15.2 million (6.3%)

The Bureau's report, "Americans with Disabilities: 2010," also covers distribution by age and gender and provides estimates on various economic factors, including employment rate, income levels, program participation, and health insurance coverage. The report and related information are available on the Census Bureau's website.

 


DOT Releases Guidance on Accessible Air Travel Dept. of Transportation SealThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released for public comment updated guidance on complying with the Air Carrier Access Act which prohibits discrimination based on disability in air travel. DOT enforces this law and maintains a technical assistance manual that provides guidance to airlines and passengers with disabilities on their rights and responsibilities under the act. In July, DOT released an updated version of the manual for public comment. The draft manual can be accessed, and comments to it submitted, at regulations.gov. The deadline for comments is October 3.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published an advisory circular on aircraft boarding equipment. This document provides standards and recommendations for the design, manufacture, testing and maintenance of boarding bridges, ramps, lifts, and aircraft boarding chairs. Portions of this material are based on the Board's ADA Accessibility Guidelines. For further information, visit FAA's website.


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