Introduction

In March 2012, the Access Board approved a new strategic plan.  The plan includes a new vision statement (advancing full access and inclusion for all) and a new mission statement (lead the development, advancement, and implementation of accessibility through outreach, rulemaking (standards and guidelines) and education).  The plan includes three goals:

  • innovate, develop, and maintain accessibility requirements
  • educate about accessibility
  • enforce compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act

The Board has established long and short-range goals and annual objectives that describe the strategies it will implement to achieve the goals.  In developing objectives and strategies for achieving its goals, the Board seeks to work together with its stakeholders toward common objectives.  The Board’s plan is simple: establish guidelines and standards that are fair, reasonable, and derived from broad consensus among stakeholders; where the Board has enforcement responsibilities over federal agencies, assist those agencies to achieve full compliance; and involve its stakeholders in developing and disseminating materials and manuals that will help them understand and comply with our guidelines and standards.

In September 2013, the Board celebrated its 40th anniversary.  The Board was established in 1973 under section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act and is the only federal agency whose primary mission is accessibility for people with disabilities.  We are responsible for developing guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Architectural Barriers Act, and the Communications Act for ensuring that buildings and facilities, transportation vehicles, and telecommunications equipment covered by these laws are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.  The Board is also responsible for developing standards under the Rehabilitation Act for accessible electronic and information technology procured by federal agencies and standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment.

Under the Help America Vote Act, the Board serves on the Board of Advisors and the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, which assist the Election Assistance Commission in developing voluntary guidelines for voting systems, including accessibility for people with disabilities.  In addition, under the 2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, the Board is responsible for developing best practices on access to information on prescription drug container labels for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

The Board enforces the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and provides training and technical assistance on each of its guidelines and standards, and on a variety of other accessibility issues.  Additionally, the Board maintains a research program that develops technical assistance materials and provides information needed for rulemaking.

The Board’s programs will result in accessible buildings and facilities, transportation vehicles, medical diagnostic equipment, telecommunications equipment, and information and communication technology across our country and, ultimately, the full economic and social integration of people with disabilities into our society.  Achieving these results will depend not only on the Board’s activities, but also on the level of commitment and action taken by other federal agencies, State and local governments, and businesses that are required to comply with or enforce the various laws that guarantee the civil rights of people with disabilities.