Access Currents: March/ April 2012

 

 

Board to Hold Public Hearing in Atlanta on May 8Atlanta skylineThe Access Board will hold a public hearing and town hall meeting in Atlanta on May 8. The hearing will allow members of the public to submit comments on accessibility standards the Board recently proposed for medical diagnostic equipment. As part of a broader discussion on accessibility, the Board also will invite comments and questions from the public on accessible design as it pertains to the built environment, transportation, communication, or information technology.

The event will take place at the Atlanta Hilton from 9:30 to 12:00. Registration is not required, but those who wish to provide testimony on the standards for medical diagnostic equipment are encouraged to contact Kathy Johnson in advance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (202) 272-0041 (voice), or (202) 272-0065 (TTY). The Board requests that those attending the event refrain from wearing perfume, cologne and other fragrances for the comfort of all participants.

Public Hearing and Town Hall Meeting
May 8, 9:30 - Noon
Hilton Atlanta
Meeting Rooms 309-311
255 Courtland Street, NE
Atlanta, GA

 


Applications for Medical Diagnostic Equipment Advisory Committee Due April 27
The Board is organizing an advisory committee to advance its development of new standards for medical diagnostic equipment and seeks applications from interested parties to serve as committee members. This committee will provide assistance to the Board in finalizing standards for diagnostic equipment it released for public comment in February. The advisory committee will be structured to represent a balanced cross section of stakeholders, including medical device manufacturers, health care providers, disability groups, standard-setting organizations, and others interested in or affected by the standards. The committee will be responsible for developing consensus recommendations on how the standards should be finalized based on the information received from the public on the proposed version. The proposed rule, which remains available for comment until June 8, includes design criteria for independent access to diagnostic equipment, including types that require transfer from wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

A notice published by the Board provides further details, including application instructions. The deadline for applications is April 27. The committee is expected to meet at least four times over the course of two months beginning in September. Committee meetings will be open to the public and will provide opportunities for all interested parties to provide information. Its work will be conducted in accordance with regulations governing Federal advisory committees. Committee membership is voluntary, and members will not be paid or reimbursed for their services.

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).

 


Susan Brita Elected Chair of the BoardSusan Brita, GSA Deputy AdministratorThe Board elected Susan Brita of the General Services Administration (GSA) as its new Chair at a meeting of the Board in March. Brita was appointed Deputy Administrator of GSA by the President in 2010 and in that capacity represents GSA on the Board. Before assuming her current post, she served as the Staff Director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management for 18 years.

The Board elected as its Vice Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA, of Seattle. Braimayer is a registered architect and principal with Studio Pacifica, Ltd., an architectural consulting firm focused on accessibility and accessible design she co-founded.

The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President. Board officers serve for a term of one year.


Report Issued on Wheelchair Transfer StudyHERL transfer testing stationThe results are in on a study sponsored by the Board on independent transfer from wheeled mobility aids that was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Human Engineering Research Laboratory (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh. This project used subject testing to assess the impacts of vertical differences and horizontal gaps between transfer points, the proximity of positioning space, and other factors on transfer to seats or surfaces from wheeled mobility aids. HERL researchers fabricated an adjustable testing station to assess transfer orientation and techniques and to measure exertion levels under a variety of conditions. Adjustable features of the device were used to simulate transfer between a range of heights and lateral distances, as well as the availability of grab bars and the presence of constraints such as side guards or armrests. A total of 120 test subjects were involved in the study.

Findings from the study indicate that a high percentage of subjects could transfer to surfaces approximating the median seat height of wheelchairs. The results also indicate how variations above or below this height, as well as presence of horizontal gaps, affect transfer ability. Horizontal gaps up to three inches did not appear to affect level transfers, but did affect transfers to lower or higher surfaces. These and other findings are explained in a final report, "The Impact of Transfer Setup on the Performance of Independent Transfers," which is available on the HERL website.


DOJ Delays Effective Date for ADA Requirements Covering Existing Pools and SpasDOJ seal
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has delayed by 60 days the effective date for updated ADA requirements applicable to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. DOJ took this action to allow more time to address misunderstandings concerning compliance with these requirements and is considering a 6-month extension. The extension applies only to existing pools and spas. Those that are newly built or altered must fully comply with the DOJ's ADA standards (2010).

In 2010, DOJ updated its ADA regulations and implemented revised standards governing the construction and alteration of facilities covered by the ADA. These standards, which became effective March 15, 2012, include new provisions for swimming pools, wading pools, spas, and other types of recreation facilities. The standards provide detailed specifications on how to achieve access to pools and spas by lift, sloped entry, and other means (sections 242 and 1009).

While the standards apply primarily to new construction and alterations, DOJ regulations also include mandates applicable to existing facilities. Barriers to access at places of public accommodation must be removed where it is readily achievable to do so. State and local government entities are responsible for providing access to public programs and services which may include retrofits and structural changes to facilities. Under DOJ's revised regulations, these barrier removal and program access obligations must encompass access to various types of recreation and other facilities newly covered in the ADA standards, including pools and spas. (Other types of spaces and elements previously retrofitted to meet the original standards do not need to be further modified to meet the new standards.)

In response to confusion among pool owners and operators over their ADA responsibilities in providing access to existing pools and spas, DOJ issued a notice delaying the effective date for addressing access to existing pools and spas from March 15 to May 21, 2012. In a companion notice, DOJ sought public comment on whether a 6-month extension (to September 17, 2012) is warranted. Public comments to the notice, which are currently under review by DOJ, can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov.

For further information, visit DOJ's website. Technical assistance on the ADA design requirements, including provisions for pools and spas as they apply in new construction and planned alterations, is available from the Access Board at (800) 872-2253 (voice), (800) 993-2822 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . A guide on the requirements in the ADA standards for pools and spas is also available from the Board.


Board Webinar to Cover Accessible Communication Elements
The next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will take place May 3 from 2:30 - 4:00 (ET) and will review requirements for communication elements and features in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. The session will cover elements such as fire alarm systems, signs, telephones, detectable warnings, assistive listening systems, automatic teller machines, and two-way communication systems and highlight updated provisions in the latest editions of the standards.

The webinar series is made available in cooperation with the ADA National Network. For more information, including registration instructions, 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.


Access Currents is a free newsletter issued by the Access Board every other month by mail and e-mail. Send questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (800) 872-2253 ext. 0026 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). Mailing address: 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000; Washington, D.C. 20004-1111.