Educate About Accessibility

The Board provides technical assistance to a wide variety of people regarding the accessibility guidelines and standards it issues.  Our customers include architects, builders, designers, manufacturers, people with disabilities, State and local governments, and federal agencies.  The Board’s technical assistance program has four components:

  • Responding to customer inquiries.  We respond to about 13,000 customer inquiries each year.  We have toll-free telephone lines for customers to call with questions.  Customers also e-mail and occasionally fax us questions.  Many literally are sitting at a drawing table or computer with a design problem.  They want accurate, reliable, and timely advice.  Our customers value being able to discuss their questions directly with our accessibility specialists who developed the guidelines and standards.
  • Developing and disseminating manuals and other publications.  We maintain numerous publications on accessibility issues.  These range from manuals on the Board’s guidelines and standards to an online guide to the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards.
  • Providing training.  We conduct numerous training sessions each year.  Training usually is provided at conferences and seminars sponsored by other organizations; it also includes a series of webinars.  Training sponsors generally reimburse us for travel expenses.
  • Maintaining the Board’s website.  Our website (www.access-board.gov) has become a very effective way to distribute information to the public.  Customers can download our publications and view our accessibility guidelines and standards from our website.

We have the following two objectives in this program area:

  • Broaden education and outreach efforts.
  • Use new technologies to deliver training and guidance.

The Board’s long-range goal is to be known as the leading source of information about accessibility and to disseminate information to our customers in effective ways.  As we develop guidelines for new areas such as passenger vessels and public rights-of-ways, there will be increased demands for technical assistance from existing and new customer groups.  The Board has informal partnerships with organizations such as the National Association of ADA Coordinators and the ten Regional ADA National Network Centers to disseminate information about the Board’s programs.  Many of the Board’s guidelines, standards, and publications are available through these organizations’ on-line networks.  The Board also provides training for these organizations.  As we develop new guidelines and standards, there will be opportunities to use existing partnerships and establish new partnerships with customer groups to disseminate information about the Board’s rulemaking.

FY 2014 Results

In 2014, we launched the first in a series of online guides on the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards.  The online guides consist of illustrated technical bulletins covering Chapters 1-3 of the ADA and ABA standards and a supplementary series of short animations that dynamically explain various requirements and the rationale behind them.  Additional technical guides and animations covering Chapters 4 and 5 of the standards are under development.  Future installments to the guides will be published as they become available.  Users can sign-up on our website to receive email updates on the release of new technical guides in the series.

In 2014 we released a new guide on accessible outdoor sites, including trails and camping areas.  The 100-page document discusses and illustrates provisions of accessibility guidelines the Board issued in September 2013 for outdoor sites developed by the federal government.  These guidelines provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes and other components of outdoor developed areas when newly built or altered.  The new guide serves as a companion resource to the guidelines by explaining the intent of various requirements and how they can be met.  It discusses provisions for trails and trailheads, outdoor recreation access routes, and beach access routes such as those addressing surface characteristics, width, and running and cross slopes.  Outdoor constructed features, including viewing areas, camp sites, tent pads and platforms, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and toilet and bathing facilities are also covered.  In addition, the guide explains exceptions in the guidelines that may apply where compliance is not practicable because of terrain, prevailing construction practices, or other specified conditions.

We continue to offer our very successful monthly webinar series through a partnership with the National Network of ADA Centers.  Sessions are conducted on a monthly basis with most scheduled for 90 minutes.  Sessions also provide an opportunity to earn continuing education credits (CEUs) for a fee, but general attendance is free.  We have also expanded our webinar series by adding an additional six webinars per year on section 508 issues in conjunction with the Chief Information Officers Council Accessibility Community of Practice.  In FY 2014, we conducted 16 webinars that were attended by approximately 9,076 people.

We responded to 13,710 customer inquiries, distributed 1,116 information packets, and conducted 35 training sessions that were attended by approximately 4,366 people.  An information packet usually contains several publications.  Since we do not collect data on publications disseminated through partner organizations, the actual number of publications disseminated to our customers is greater than our current data indicate.  In 2014 we began phasing out delivery of print publications as a means of implementing Executive Order 13589 (Promoting Efficient Spending).

We have used our website to provide copies of the Board’s guidelines and standards and answers to frequently asked questions so that more customers can get the information they need.  The usage of our website continues to grow.  There were approximately 1.3 million “visitors” and 60.7 million “hits”.  We also distributed six issues of Access Currents, a free newsletter we issue every other month by e-mail.

FY 2015 Planned Activities

Online Guide, Webinars, and Website

We will develop additional materials for the new online guide on the ADA and ABA standards.  Planned for this year are technical guides and animations covering Chapters 4 and 5 of the standards.  The Chapter 4 guides address accessible routes, doors and gates, ramps and curb ramps, elevators and platform lifts, and accessible means of egress.  The Chapter 5 guides will address parking, passenger loading zones and bus stops, and stairways.  Work is progressing on an animation that covers protruding objects.  This animation will show cane technique, different examples of wall-mounted and free-standing protruding objects, and various treatments to reduce hazards and to make objects comply.

We will continue to offer our very successful monthly webinar series.  Sessions in 2014 are planned on Accessible Hospitals and Medical Care Facilities, Accessible Play Areas (Advanced Session), and an Open Question and Answer session.  We will also continue our webinar series on section 508 issues with the Chief Information Officers Council Accessibility Community of Practice.

Technical Assistance and Research Projects

The following research and technical assistance projects are planned for FY 2015:

  • Medical diagnostic equipment (transfer height)
  • WCAG 2.0 technical assistance
  • Animations

Regulatory assessments.  We will fund a regulatory assessment for the Information and Communications Technology final rule.

FY 2016 Objectives

We will develop training and technical assistance materials on final rules.  As we publish final rules, we make every effort to ensure that training and technical assistance materials are available to organizations and individuals that must apply the new requirements.  We will continue to improve our website including releasing additional modules for the web-based guide on the ADA and ABA standards.

The following research and technical assistance projects are planned for FY 2016:

  • Ramp slope and maneuvering space requirements in transit vehicles (phase one)
  • WCAG 2.0 technical assistance (continuation)
  • Animations (continuation)
  • Regulatory assessments.  We will fund regulatory assessments for the following rules: Transportation Vehicles: rail (proposed), and Self-service Transaction Machines (proposed).