The goal of this advisory committee is to make recommendations to the Access Board regarding accessibility standards for electronic and information technology and accessibility guidelines for telecommunications equipment covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 and Section 255(e) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The recommendations should address issues such as: types of technologies to be covered by the standards and guidelines; barriers to the use of such technologies by persons with disabilities; solutions to such barriers, if known, and research on such barriers; contents of the standards and guidelines; and harmonization with international standards efforts in this area.
The advisory committee process is intended to facilitate discussion among its members. Participants enter the proceedings in good faith in an effort to reach a speedy and amicable set of recommendations on a variety of issues. Participants agree to participate fully and openly in the discussions with a sincere desire to explore alternatives and solutions to a variety of concerns. All members agree to exchange information to the fullest extent practicable and agree not to divulge information shared by others in confidence. Nothing in these protocols shall prevent a member from making public or using its own proposals in any future proceeding.
1. Interests Represented. The committee will be composed of a cross section of organizations representing a variety of interests regarding telecommunications and electronic and information technology access.
2. The Advisory Committee. The committee will be composed of those organizations appointed to serve by the Chairperson of the Access Board. Each member may designate an alternate member(s) representing the same interest as the designated member. The members will fully brief the alternates on the progress of the discussions and will give them full authority when they serve on the committee. Alternates are encouraged to attend committee meetings. No person may represent more than two groups during the same meeting. The Chairperson or co-chairs of the committee shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Access Board.
3. Attendance at Meetings. Each committee member will make a good faith effort to attend each full advisory committee session. Attendance in person is preferred, but if that is not possible, attendance may be by teleconference or by videoconference. If a given organization is unrepresented for two consecutive meetings, the Chairperson or co-chairs of the committee has the discretion to ask the Chairperson of the Access Board to remove that organization from the committee.
Committee members may be accompanied by other advisors as that member believes are appropriate to represent his/her interest. Technical advisors and other persons may speak openly during discussions. Should the open discussion become unwieldy, any member may request a more formal process in which advisors are recognized to speak only by the Chairperson or co-chairs of the committee.
4. Additional Committee Members. Additional committee members shall be added solely to provide representation of stakeholder interests not already represented on the committee. Committee members may only be added during the first and/or second meeting of the committee. Additional committee members may join the committee by a vote of three-quarters of the committee. Discussion and voting on additional committee members shall be conducted only once during each of the first two committee meetings. New committee members shall begin service upon completion of voting for proposed new committee members.
5. Constituents’ Interests. Committee members are encouraged, to the extent possible, to communicate with other organizations similarly situated. Committee members are expected to make a good faith effort to represent the concerns and interests of their constituents and to ensure that any recommendation developed by the committee is acceptable to the organization that the committee member represents.
6. Right to Withdraw. Any member may withdraw from the committee at any time without prejudice.
7. Subcommittees. Subcommittees may be formed to address specific issues within the scope of the advisory committee’s responsibilities. Subcommittees are open to anyone although balance among interests should be maintained. Subcommittees may meet at the same time the full committee meets, or in between full committee meetings. However, subcommittees are encouraged to meet in between full committee meetings. Subcommittees may offer recommendations to the committee. However, subcommittees are not authorized to make recommendations for the committee. In subcommittees, anyone in attendance can participate. Subcommittee leadership and methods of work shall be decided by the subcommittee. Subcommittee meetings shall be conducted in a manner that is accessible to all those in attendance. Chairs of subcommittees shall be members of the committee. Subcommittees shall publish their meeting schedules and other work mechanisms in advance to the public.
8. FACA. The advisory committee meetings will be conducted under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
9. Open Meetings. Advisory committee meetings will be announced in the Federal Register prior to the meeting and, consistent with FACA requirements, will be open to the public. During each day of the advisory committee meetings, there shall be time for public comment.
10. Quorum. A quorum of two thirds of the committee membership will be required to conduct substantive business of the committee. In the absence of a quorum, those present will proceed with committee work, but may not make substantive committee recommendations.
11. Minutes. Minutes of the committee meetings will be prepared by the Designated Federal Official (DFO) and distributed as expeditiously as possible to the committee and will be ratified by the committee at its next meeting. A progress report of subcommittee meetings shall be prepared and sent by subcommittee chairs to committee members prior to the next meeting.
12. Media Announcements. No member will make unauthorized announcements to the media or hold discussions with the media characterizing the position of the committee (until recommendations are final) or ascribing the position of any member, even if that member withdraws from the committee.
13. Agendas. Meeting agendas will be developed by the DFO in consultation with the Chairperson or co-chairs of the committee.
14. Ad Hoc Meetings. An ad hoc meeting break can be requested by any committee member at any time. Ad hoc meetings will not be considered open meetings. Members are asked to keep such ad hoc meetings to a minimum and estimate the time needed. Proposals made and positions taken by any participant during ad hoc meetings shall be confidential and shall not be used in any future regulatory or legal proceedings.
15. Accessibility of Meetings. Full committee and subcommittee meetings will be held in accessible locations and provide for communications and print access. Persons attending committee meetings are requested to refrain from using perfume, cologne, and other fragrances for the comfort of other participants.
16. Schedule. Advisory committee meetings will be held approximately once each four to six weeks as determined by the committee. The committee will submit a report with final recommendations to the Access Board at a future meeting of the Access Board.
17. Discontinue if Unproductive. The Access Board in consultation with the committee Chairperson or co-chairs may discontinue the advisory committee meetings at any time if the meetings do not appear productive.
18. Written Materials. Written materials that are distributed to the committee should be in print and accessible electronic format. Persons who distribute written materials during committee meetings should provide 100 print copies and sufficient copies in a variety of accessible formats, including, but not necessarily limited to large print, Braille and accessible electronic format. Persons intending to provide written materials should contact the DFO for detailed instructions on the requirements for accessible formats and the number of accessible copies. If written materials to be distributed to the committee are provided to the Access Board seven days in advance of a meeting the Access Board will provide sufficient print and accessible format copies.
19. Product of Advisory Committee Meetings. The intended product of the advisory committee is a set of recommendations in the form of a written statement, which should be signed by all committee members. The recommendations will be used by the Access Board in developing a proposed rule for accessibility standards for electronic and information technology and for accessibility guidelines for telecommunications products.
Committee meetings should be conducted and work performed in a spirit of collegiality and consensus should be achieved to the extent possible. Nothing in these protocols shall require any member to agree on any specific issue. The purpose of the committee is to give advice and recommendations, not make decisions. Members should strive to find common ground and articulate it in its recommendations. Any committee member may prepare a minority report for the record. Minority reports will be incorporated into the committee’s final report.
20. The members may amend the protocols at any time.
September 27, 2006