Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Justification
United States House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
- Establish Technical Specifications for Accessible Design
- Provide Education and Information on the Importance and Implementation of Accessible Design
- Improve the Accessibility of the Federal Government
- FY 2021 Results: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
- FY 2022 Planned Activities: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
- FY 2023 Objectives: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
- FY 2021 Results: Accessible Federal Information and Communication Technology
- FY 2022 Planned Activities: Accessible Federal Information and Communication Technology
- FY 2023 Objectives: Accessible Federal Information and Communication Technology
- FY 2021 Results: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
- FY 2022 Planned Activities: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
- FY 2023 Objectives: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
- Promote Accessibility throughout Society
- Improve Agency Systems and Modernize Operations
- Appendix A (Access Board Budget)
- Appendix B
- Appendix C (Architectural Barriers Act Cases)
- Appendix D (Technical Assistance Data)
Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Justification
This document presents the U.S. Access Board’s budget justification for fiscal year (FY) 2023. The Board is requesting a total budget authority of $9,850,000 (see Appendix A).
The Access Board (hereinafter “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. Broadly stated, the Board has three main functions: (1) to create accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transit systems, information and communication technology, and medical diagnostic equipment; (2) to provide technical assistance and training to the public on these accessibility requirements; and (3) to enforce the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the law that requires that federal buildings and facilities be accessible to persons with disabilities.
With respect to the development of technical specifications for physical and digital accessibility, the Board is responsible for developing guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA), 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 information and communication technology procured by federal agencies and establishing standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment.
The second main function of the Board is to regularly provide technical assistance on these guidelines and standards. The Board responds to technical inquiries daily through its helpline and by email. It also issues guides, manuals, and animations to clarify provisions in the guidelines and standards and other aspects of accessible design. The Board provides training on these requirements upon request and conducts two free webinar series on physical and digital accessibility. Additionally, it manages a research program that develops technical assistance materials and provides information and data needed for rulemaking.
The Board’s third main function is ensuring that federal buildings and facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities by enforcing the ABA. The Board investigates submitted complaints regarding accessibility barriers encountered in federal spaces and works collaboratively with the appropriate federal agencies to ensure that violations of the ABA are remediated.
The Board’s services and programs advance accessibility in buildings and facilities, transportation vehicles, medical diagnostic equipment, telecommunications equipment, and information and communication technology across the country and, ultimately, the full economic and social integration of people with disabilities into society. However, achievement of these results depends 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.
In addition to developing technical specifications under the ADA and ABA, the Board also completes other duties as assigned by Congress. Under the Help America Vote Act, the Board serves on the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Board of Advisors and Technical Guidelines Development Committee, which assist the EAC in developing voluntary guidelines for voting systems, including accessibility for people with disabilities. In addition, under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, the Board developed best practices on providing accessible information on prescription drug container labels for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Finally, in October 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act was signed into law. A provision in the law required the Board to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems and, if feasible, the ways in which individuals with significant disabilities using wheelchairs, including power wheelchairs, can be accommodated with those systems.
FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan
The Board’s FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan includes a vision statement (A nation that is fully accessible to and inclusive of all people with disabilities) and mission statement (To advance accessibility and inclusion by developing guidelines and standards, providing technical assistance, education, enforcement, and outreach). The plan includes four goals and a stewardship objective:
- Establish technical specifications for accessible design
- Provide education and information on the importance and implementation of accessible design
- Improve the accessibility of the federal government
- Promote accessibility throughout society
The Board established long- and short-range goals and annual objectives that describe the strategies it will implement to achieve the goals. In developing the objectives and strategies, the Board is implementing the Administration’s priorities to ensure the equitable provision of government services as specified by Executive Order 13985, consultation with Tribal Nations to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships as specified by Executive Order 13175, and the advancement of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal workplace as specified by Executive Order 14035.
Establish Technical Specifications for Accessible Design
The Board will continue to develop and update accessibility guidelines and standards and work cooperatively with organizations that develop codes and standards affecting accessibility. It has developed the following objectives for this program area:
- Develop and update technical specifications to achieve accessibility
- Coordinate with standards and codes organizations to build effective industry accessibility standards
- Engage with the public, particularly underserved communities, to inform the development of accessible design
- Address accessibility of emerging technologies and design trends
- Collaborate with organizations to encourage research on accessibility
FY 2021 Results: Rulemaking
In FY 2021, the Board was active in developing new accessibility guidelines in three areas: public rights-of-way and shared use paths, self-service transaction machines and kiosks, and wheelchairs used to provide access aboard aircraft.
Public Rights-of-Way and Shared Use Paths
The Board is finalizing new guidelines that will address access to public rights-of-way and shared use paths, including sidewalks and streets, crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, and other components of the public right-of-way. These guidelines will address access for pedestrians with disabilities, including those with mobility impairments and those who are blind or have low vision. They will cover various constraints unique to public rights-of-way, such as space limitations, roadway design practices, slope, and terrain.
The Board previously proposed for public comment guidelines for public rights-of-way and shared use paths and analyzed the comments received. Work on this rule was suspended in 2017 due to Executive Order 13777 Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, which was rescinded in January 2021. In FY 2021, the Board resumed work on this rulemaking, including finalizing the text of the guidelines and beginning a regulatory assessment on the final rule.
Guidelines for Self-Service Transaction Machines and Kiosks
Self-service transaction machines (SSTMs) and self-service kiosks are now a common feature in places of public accommodation, government offices, and other facilities. They allow customers to conduct an expanding range of transactions and functions independently. SSTMs serve as point-of-sales machines for self-checkout in a growing number of retail facilities, grocery stores, and drug stores. SSTMs and self-service kiosks also allow customers to check-in at airports and hotels and to place orders in restaurants and retail facilities.
SSTMs and self-service kiosks have long posed accessibility barriers to people with disabilities, particularly those who are blind or have low vision. Robust speech output is necessary to provide access for users unable to see display screens. They also can pose barriers for users who are deaf or hard of hearing if lacking captioning and text equivalents for audible information. Further, these devices must be accessible to people with physical impairments, including those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, have limited dexterity, or who are of short stature. In FY 2021, the Board initiated rulemaking to supplement its guidelines for buildings and facilities issued under the ADA and ABA to address access to SSTMs. It began drafting an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), which is due to be published in FY 2022.
The Board is developing voluntary, advisory guidelines for aircraft onboard wheelchairs (OBWAG) used on commercial passenger aircraft to aid the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the department’s separate regulatory initiative to improve access to air travel. DOT, as part of a negotiated rulemaking, plans to supplement its regulations implementing the Air Carrier Access Act by specifying a performance standard calling for enhanced functionality of onboard wheelchairs relative to current requirements for such devices. Currently, commercial air carriers are required on all aircraft to provide onboard wheelchairs, which facilitate the transfer of passengers with disabilities to in-cabin lavatories, since personal wheelchairs cannot be used on these aircraft. The Board’s OBWAG will specify technical specifications (e.g., dimensions, features, and capabilities) for onboard wheelchairs. The Board expects its non-binding guidelines to serve as technical assistance for air carriers and manufacturers by providing an illustrative technical approach which, if followed, would provide assurance of compliance with DOT’s forthcoming performance standard for onboard wheelchairs.
In FY 2021, the Board continued work to finalize these guidelines, which it had previously made available for public comment, in coordination with DOT. The Board and DOT developed plans to conduct a virtual public meeting to obtain additional information from the public needed to finalize their respective rules. This meeting took place in the first quarter of FY 2022.
FY 2022 Planned Activities: Rulemaking
The Board is working on the following regulatory initiatives in FY 2022.
Public Rights-of-Way and Shared Use Paths. The Board plans to complete the final rule package in FY 2022, including finalizing the text of the guidelines in coordination with DOJ and DOT, which are responsible for issuing enforceable standards under the ADA based on the Board’s guidelines. In addition, the Board will complete other components of the rule, including the final regulatory assessment, and submit it to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
Self-Service Transaction Machines and Kiosks. The Board plans to issue an ANPRM to address access to SSTMs and self-service kiosks in the spring of 2022. This notice will seek feedback from the public on the planned approach to supplementing the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to include scoping and technical requirements for these devices so that they are fully accessible to all users, including those who are blind or have low vision, who are deaf or hard of hearing, who have a physical disability, or who are of small stature. This regulatory initiative, once complete, will provide technical specifications for the accessibility of point-of-sale machines, self-checkout machines, check-in kiosks, and other SSTMs and scoping for built-in self-service transaction machines that fall under the Board’s regulatory jurisdiction. The first step for this rulemaking will be an ANPRM, to be published in FY 2022, seeking feedback on the proposed approach to the technical specifications.
Medical Diagnostic Equipment. The Board issued its accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) in 2017. These standards address access to examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological equipment, and other equipment used by health care providers for diagnostic purposes. The Board plans to undertake supplementary rulemaking in FY 2022 to revisit a specification in the standards concerning the height of MDE transfer surfaces. The standards specify that MDE transfer surfaces be adjustable across a specified range so that they can be aligned with a seat of a patient’s wheelchair to facilitate transfer to the equipment. The Board proposed that transfer surfaces be adjustable from a low height of 17 inches to a high height of 25 inches based on a major study it helped sponsor on measures of people who use wheeled mobility aids. There was strong disagreement among commenters and stakeholders on what the low transfer height should be. Disability advocates supported the 17-inch minimum recommended by the anthropometric study, while MDE manufactures alleged that this height would be difficult and expensive to meet and that low height from 17 inches to 19 inches should be allowed, consistent with existing access standards and industry practice. In finalizing the MDE standards, the Board specified a temporary low transfer surface height of 17 to 19 inches pending the collection of further information and research. This provision expired in January 2022.
In FY 2021, the Board commissioned a study to further analyze wheelchair seat height. This study was completed in January 2022. The Board extended the sunset provision for the low transfer height an additional three years to allow time for consideration of the findings and subsequent supplementary rulemaking on the low height for transfer surfaces. The Board intends to issue an NPRM on this specification in FY 2022 and plans to finalize the rule in FY 2023.
ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Transportation Vehicles. The Board is undertaking rulemaking to revise requirements for rail vehicles in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Transportation Vehicles. These requirements have not been modified or updated since they were issued in 1991. In February 2020, the Board published an ANPRM to initiate the regulatory process for potentially updating its accessibility guidelines for rail vehicles. The Board received over 200 public comments in response to this notice. In FY 2022, the Board plans to resume work on this rule by preparing a proposed rule based on its review of comments to the ANPRM and the recommendations from the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee.
FY 2022 Rulemaking Initiatives Under Consideration
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are becoming commonplace with the rising production and use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are nearly 50,000 public EV charging stations with almost 127,000 charging ports across the country. The ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,’’ which President Biden signed into law in November 2021, allocates $7.5 billion to build out a national network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs. The Board is currently considering whether to initiate a rulemaking to supplement its ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. If the Board decides to do so, an NPRM could be issued as early as FY 2022.
FY 2023 Objectives: Rulemaking
In FY 2023, the Board aims to publish the following rulemaking documents:
- A final rule on the accessibility of public rights-of-way and shared use paths
- A proposed rule on SSTMs and self-service kiosks
- A final rule on MDE specifications for the low height of transfer surfaces
- A proposed rule on updated guidelines for rail cars
- A final rule on the accessibility of EV charging stations, contingent upon the Board’s decision to initiate a rulemaking
FY 2021 Results: Codes and Standards
Adoption of Board Guidelines as Enforceable Standards
For the Board’s accessibility guidelines to become enforceable, other federal agencies must generally complete rulemaking to adopt the guidelines as standards. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) use the Board’s guidelines to develop enforceable standards under the ABA. The Departments of Justice and Transportation use the Board’s guidelines to develop enforceable standards under the ADA. USPS, GSA, DOD, and the Departments of Justice and Transportation have adopted the Board’s guidelines as enforceable standards. HUD has not acted yet.
Voluntary Consensus Standards
The Board’s long-range goal is to take a leadership role in the development of codes and standards for accessibility. The Board works with model codes organizations and voluntary consensus standards groups that develop and periodically revise codes and standards affecting accessibility. The Board has voting membership in several codes and standards organizations and monitors or is actively involved in the development or revision of dozens of other codes and standards affecting accessibility.
The Board believes this goal enhances its credibility as a knowledgeable source of information regarding technical aspects of accessibility. Additionally, by working cooperatively with model codes organizations and voluntary consensus standards groups, federal and private codes and standards will become more similar, or harmonized, and the Board will be more alert to non-federal influences affecting its constituencies. Harmonization between federal and private requirements will make it more likely that buildings and facilities will be accessible, thus reducing the necessity for complaints and litigation.
Exemplifying the Board’s collaboration with voluntary consensus standards groups is its membership in the ICC A117.1 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities Committee. The ICC A117.1 Standard, which is a key counterpart to the Board’s ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines, is referenced by the International Building Code (IBC). In FY 2021, the Board participated in task groups organized by the A117 Committee to develop provisions on adult changing tables and assisted use toilet and bathing facilities for the A117.1 Standard. This work also advanced proposals for corresponding requirements in the IBC. Through this work, the Board is able to collaborate and provide input on revisions to the A117.1 and IBC that improve accessibility.
Two Board members serve as members of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) and Board of Advisors, which provide recommendations to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) under the Help America Vote Act. The Board continues to work with the EAC in the development of updated Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). The VVSG, which were first published in 2005, significantly increased security requirements for voting systems and expanded access, including opportunities for individuals with disabilities to vote privately and independently. It provides a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if the systems meet required standards. The guidelines are voluntary, and States can adopt them entirely or in part. In 2021, the EAC adopted version 2.0 of the VVSG.
While the Board was in the process of updating its information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility requirements, a similar process began in Europe to create the first European ICT accessibility standards. Beginning in 2005, the Board and the European Commission began to work closely to harmonize ICT accessibility requirements. In early 2014, the three European standardization organizations—European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC)—published the first European specifications on e-accessibility for public ICT procurements, EN 301 549, “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe.”
The current European standard is largely harmonized with the Board’s January 2017 final rule that updated the Board’s ICT standards and guidelines. Since publication of the Board’s final rule with a European Joint Working Group on eAccessibility, the Board has been working to further harmonize the U.S. and European standards and will continue that effort in 2022 and beyond.
Some of the codes and standards groups that the Board works with include: the International Code Council (ICC) Consensus Committee on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, ICC (ASC A117); American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A18 Platform Lift and Stairway Chair Lift Committee; National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Disability Access Review Advisory Committee; National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard; World Wide Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines Working Group; ASTM Committee on Playground Surfacing Systems; Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Standards Committee on Cognitive Accessibility and Assistive Technology for Air Travel; Transportation Research Board; National Cooperative Highway Research Program; National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; FCC Disability Advisory Committee; the Chief Information Officers Council’s Accessibility Community of Practice; and many others.
The Board is also a member of the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy, which is the group that is responsible for overseeing the use of standards by federal agencies in accordance with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act.
FY 2022 Planned Activities: Codes and Standards
The Board will continue to work with private sector codes and standards organizations to harmonize the Board’s guidelines with model codes and standards. For example, in FY 2022, the Board will be attending regular meetings of the A117 Committee to consider proposals for the 2023 edition of the A117.1 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. The Board will also continue to work with the EAC on future updates to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and with the European Joint Working Group on eAccessibility to further harmonize U.S. and European standards.
FY 2023 Objectives: Codes and Standards
The Board will continue to collaborate with the EAC and the European Joint Working Group on eAccessibility and will continue its efforts to harmonize its guidelines with model codes and standards, including the ICC A117.1 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.
Provide Education and Information on the Importance and Implementation of Accessible Design
The Board provides training and technical assistance on accessibility guidelines and standards to a wide variety of people and entities, including architects, builders, designers, technology companies, manufacturers, people with disabilities, State and local governments, and federal agencies. The Board’s long-range goal is to be known as a leading source of information on accessible design.
The Board has the following objectives in this program area:
- Provide training on accessible design and the Board’s guidelines and standards
- Provide technical assistance on implementation of accessibility guidelines and standards
- Create guides, manuals, and animations to promote understanding of accessible design
- Use stakeholders’ feedback to improve information services
- Conduct and sponsor research on accessible design and technical innovations
The Board’s technical assistance program has four components:
- Responding to technical inquiries. The Board responds to 4,000 – 5,000 inquiries each year through a toll-free telephone line, email, and, occasionally, fax. Customers want accurate, reliable, and timely advice, and the Board’s accessibility specialists dedicate extensive time in answering or engaging with customers’ questions.
- Developing and disseminating guides, manuals, and other publications. The Board maintains numerous publications on accessibility issues. These publications range from manuals on the Board’s guidelines and standards, to animations and online guides, to the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards.
- Providing training. The Board conducts about 70 – 90 training sessions each year on its guidelines and standards through in-person trainings and through webinars and other virtual platforms. Training usually is provided upon request at conferences and seminars sponsored by other organizations. Since the pandemic, the Board has transitioned to providing training virtually through remote platforms instead of in-person. In addition, the Board conducts two free webinar series: AccessibilityOnline Series and Section 508 Best Practices Series. The AccessibilityOnline series provides sessions each month on different topics concerning accessible design and the Board’s accessibility guidelines and standards. The Section 508 Best Practices is a bi-monthly webinar series that addresses topics concerning access to ICT in the federal sector under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, including compliance with the Board’s 508 Standards for ICT. Attendees of these sessions can earn continuing education credits.
- Maintaining the Board’s website. The Board’s website (www.access-board.gov) has become a very effective way to distribute information to the public. Customers can download the Board’s publications and view the Board’s accessibility guidelines and standards from the website. Additionally, the Board provides downloadable animations illustrating the rationale behind the guidelines and standards and showing how accessible features are used by individuals with disabilities. The Board also maintains a YouTube Channel and three social media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).
As the Board develops new guidelines for public rights-of-way and shared use paths, self-service transaction machines and kiosks, updated guidelines for rail vehicles, and electric vehicle charging stations (if the Board decides to initiate rulemaking on EV charging stations), 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 distribute 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 the Board develops new guidelines and standards, there will be opportunities to use these existing partnerships and establish new partnerships to disseminate information about the Board’s rulemaking.
FY 2021 Results
To supplement the guidelines and standards, the Board produces an array of guidance materials. The Board’s popular online guide to the ADA and ABA Standards continues to grow. The guide features animations and technical bulletins that explain and illustrate requirements and address common questions. Bulletins are currently available on the first six chapters of the standards, including application and scoping, building blocks, accessible routes, accessible means of egress, parking and passenger loading zones, stairways, and toilet and bathing facilities. Users can sign up to receive email updates on the release of other animations and bulletins in the series.
In FY 2021, the Board released its technical bulletins on various plumbed elements and spaces covered in the ADA and ABA Standards, including lavatories and sinks, washers and dryers, and saunas and steam rooms. It also began work on a technical bulletin on accessible signage. Each bulletin clarifies common sources of confusion, answers frequently asked questions, and offers recommendations for best practices. Examples of compliant restrooms and bathing rooms are included to illustrate how various requirements can be met.
The Board continues to offer its very successful monthly webinar series through a partnership with the National Network of ADA Centers. The Board conducts sessions monthly on built environment issues and bi-monthly on information and communication technology issues (in conjunction with the Chief Information Officers Council Accessibility Community of Practice). Webinars are scheduled for 90 minutes. Sessions also provide an opportunity to earn continuing education credits (CEUs) for a fee, but general attendance is free.
In FY 2021, as part of its monthly AccessibilityOnline series, the Board conducted well-attended webinars on: Common Sources of Confusion in the ADA and ABA Standards, Interior and Exterior Accessible Routes, Vertical Access, Pedestrian Trails and Shared Use Paths, Public Rights-of-Way, Play Areas, Recreation Facilities, Kitchens and Kitchenettes, Assembly Areas, Medical Care and Long-Term Care Facilities, Built-In Elements, and Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements.
Webinar sessions in the 508 Best Practices Series covered a range of topics, with titles being: The Civil Rights Complaint Portal: An Accessibility Journey; New Approaches to Web Accessibility Requirements under WCAG3; Section 508 Compliance and Assistive Technology; Review of Requirements for Hardware and Software in the 508 Standards; Review of Requirements for Federal Websites and Electronic Content in the 508 Standards; and Creating Accessible Websites using the U.S. Web Design System and the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act.
In FY 2021, the Board’s accessibility specialists responded to over 4,400 technical assistance requests to the public through the help line or by email. The Board conducted a total of 85 virtual training sessions and webinars. Through these sessions, the Board provided training to over 23,000 people, which represents a 36% increase over the previous year’s total (17,115). The Board has not yet resumed in-person trainings due to the pandemic.
The Board has used its 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 when they need it. In FY 2021, there were approximately 745,000 visitors to the site, about 92,000 user sessions, and over 2.1 million page views.
The Board has a free e-subscription for purposes of distributing its news releases. In FY 2021, the Board had its largest yearly growth of subscribers: from 36,842 to 42,946 subscribers (+16.56%). Compared to previous years, the Board also distributed more emails in 2021, totaling 3,203,634 (+127.57% from 2020).
The Board continues to use social media platforms to amplify its messages, mission, technical assistance, public events, and public engagement. Since 2015, the Board has used Twitter for its primary social media account, but in 2021, the Board expanded its social media channels by creating two new accounts: Facebook page and LinkedIn organization page. At the end of 2021, the Board’s Twitter account had 2,094 followers, LinkedIn account had 879 followers, and Facebook page had 216 followers. The Board’s YouTube Channel provides technical information via its popular animations, videos, and recordings from the Board’s public events. In FY 2021, the Board hosted nine public events, with each event having an attendance of 500 – 800. The YouTube Channel provides the recordings of all these public events.
FY 2022 Planned Activities
Online Guide, Webinars, and Website
The Board will develop additional materials for the online guide to the ADA and ABA standards. Technical guides covering Chapter 7 of the standards are in progress. These guides will address communication elements and features, including fire alarm systems, telephones, detectable warnings, assistive listening systems, ATMs and fare machines, and two-way communication systems. Future installments to the guides will be released as they become available. Users can sign up to receive email updates on the release of these guides.
The Board will continue to offer its very successful webinar series for the built environment and on Section 508. In FY 2022, webinars in the AccessibiliyOnline series will cover: the ABA compliant Investigation Process and Corrective Action Plan Procedure, Accessible Signage, Accessible Swimming Pools and Spas, Accessibility in the Federal Workspace, An Introduction to Website Accessibility, Inclusive Exhibits, Accessible Residential Facilities, Recreational Boating and Fishing Piers and Platforms, and Accessible Historic Buildings and Facilities.
Sessions planned for Section 508 issues include: Audio Description, Questions and Answers on the Section 508 Standards, Data Visualization, and three additional topics.
Technical Assistance and Research Projects
In FY 2021, the Board completed a congressionally mandated research study on the feasibility of equipping aircraft with wheelchair securement systems. As noted above, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 tasked the Board with conducting a study in consultation with DOT and other stakeholders to assess the technical feasibility of and operational issues that would be posed by passengers who use wheelchairs using their own mobility devices (properly secured) onboard commercial aircraft in lieu of airline-provided fixed seating.
Considering the complex aeronautical and engineering issues at play when evaluating the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair securement systems, the Board partnered with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in early October 2019 to conduct this feasibility study. TRB, which is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is highly regarded within the transportation research community for its technical expertise and provision of objective, non-partisan research. TRB convened a 12-member study committee to carry out the feasibility study, with the committee comprised of experts with a variety of professional disciplines, backgrounds, and interests to ensure a balance of perspectives.
In FY 2021, the committee completed its work and issued a report on its findings, “Technical Feasibility of a Wheelchair Securement Concept for Airline Travel: A Preliminary Assessment.” According to the report, the committee did not identify any design or engineering challenges that would likely call into question the technical feasibility of an in-cabin wheelchair securement system. The report provides a preliminary assessment of the technical issues and recommends actions to fill gaps in technical information needed for more definitive assessments of feasibility and for public policy considerations about the systems to expand air travel opportunities for people with disabilities. The report recommends areas of further research by DOT, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Board. Committee leaders provided a presentation of the report in a virtual public meeting held by the Board in September 2021.
FY 2023 Objectives
The Board will continue to improve its website, including releasing additional modules for the web-based guide for the ADA and ABA standards.
The following research and technical assistance projects are planned for FY 2023:
- Regulatory assessment for updated ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Rail Vehicles
- Regulatory assessment for supplementary guidelines on self-service transaction machines
Improve the Accessibility of the Federal Government
The Board is committed to improving the accessibility of the federal government and has the following objectives in this program area:
- Improve the accessibility of federal buildings and facilities through enhanced awareness and robust enforcement of the Architectural Barriers Act.
- Improve accessibility of federal information and communication technology through collaboration with other federal agencies.
- Be a model employer of persons with disabilities.
The Board was established in 1973 with the primary purpose of enforcing the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA). The ABA requires that most buildings designed, constructed, altered, or leased by the federal government and certain other federally financed facilities be accessible to people with disabilities. The Board enforces the ABA by investigating complaints received from members of the public or federal employees.
Complaints received concern post offices, national parks, military facilities, veterans’ hospitals, courthouses, and a variety of other facilities. When the Board has jurisdiction and finds that the applicable accessibility standards were not followed, it requires a corrective action plan and monitors the case until the barrier is removed. Even when the Board does not have jurisdiction, or no violation is found, it attempts to negotiate voluntary barrier removal. For covered buildings where corrective action is required, the Board has a 100% compliance rate.
In resolving complaints, the Board has learned that most violations are not intentional. When violations are found, it is usually because the people responsible for designing buildings, reviewing plans, and on-site construction were not well-informed of the accessibility standards or how to apply them. As such, the Board takes proactive measures to work with federal agencies, such as conducting training sessions, to ensure that, before starting a new project or executing a new lease, they understand and comply with their ABA obligations.
While the Board continues to successfully execute its ABA-related mandates, its responsibilities have expanded significantly during its nearly 50-year history. One such duty includes ensuring that information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible to persons with disabilities, as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for federal agencies to only develop, procure, maintain, and use ICT that is accessible.
In all of its work, the Board seeks to remove barriers to equity and inclusion for, and increase the dignity and respect of, individuals with disabilities. But the Board acknowledges that these outward, public-facing endeavors cannot succeed if it does not also focus its efforts internally, on its own employees. As such, the Board continuously strives to be a model employer of people with disabilities in all phases of the employment life cycle—from recruitment and hiring to retention and advancement.
FY 2021 Results: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
During FY 2021, the Board received 180 new ABA complaints and closed 174 pending complaints. The total number of ABA complaints filed this year represented a 17% increase relative to complaints filed in the prior fiscal year (FY 2020). This increase represents a return to typical complaint filings which, anecdotally, the Board believes is consistent with the easing of some pandemic-related restrictions. The more stringent restrictions during FY 2020 had led to a drop in complaint filings that year since many Americans were staying home more than usual and, thus, were not going to post offices, national parks, and other federal facilities as frequently.
Of the 174 ABA cases closed this year, about 22% (38 cases) were closed after the federal agency (or other facility owner/leaseholder) took corrective action to remedy building elements or features determined by the Board’s investigative findings to be ABA violations under the applicable accessibility standard. This figure represents a 31% drop compared to cases closed in the prior fiscal year (FY 2020) following corrective action. This decrease is explained by the fact that, during FY 2021, agencies were faced with pandemic-related delays (mostly related to supply and budget issues and delays on the part of construction contractors) that resulted in corrective actions planned to be completed in FY 2021 being pushed back into FY 2022.
In brief, the FY 2021 ABA closed cases with corrective action can be broken down into three broad categories by facility type:
- Defense-related and Veterans Facilities: The Board successfully resolved 4 ABA complaints against the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, including long-pending cases relating to: a U.S. Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) facility at Fort Knox, Kentucky; the Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada; the Hines VA Medical Center in Hines, Illinois; and the Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Post Offices: The Board successfully resolved 32 ABA complaints relating to U.S. Postal Service facilities, with major remedial work completed for post offices in Olney, Maryland; Evergreen, Virginia; Addyston, Ohio; LeGrand, Iowa; Greenwood Village, Colorado; and Lewisville, Texas.
- Other ABA-Covered Facilities: The Board also successfully resolved 2 other ABA complaints relating to facilities leased by the General Services Administration on behalf of the Federal Election Commission (in Washington, D.C.) and the Department of Education (in Cleveland, Ohio).
The balance of ABA cases closed this year—or 78%—were concluded for a range of technical or administrative reasons. Most involved referring complainants to other federal agencies because the Board lacked ABA jurisdiction over the matters raised in their complaints. In FY 2021, the Board mainly referred complainants to DOJ (complaints related to ADA-covered state or local facilities or places of public accommodation) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (claims relating to apartment buildings covered by the Fair Housing Act). Administrative closures of ABA complaints occur for a variety of reasons ranging from unintelligibility or “spam” filings to complaints that provide insufficient detail to discern the nature of the allegations or to allow enforcement staff to contact the complainant to gather additional/clarifying information. This year, many of the Board’s administrative closures resulted from complaints that raised matters clearly falling outside the Board’s ABA jurisdiction or the purview of any other federal or state agency.
Appendix C below provides data for ABA cases closed in FY 2021 concerning reasons for case closure.
The success of the Board’s complaint resolutions, and its ABA enforcement program as a whole, is due to close collaboration with other agencies, particularly those the ABA charges with setting accessibility standards based on the minimum guidelines the Board writes: the General Services Administration (GSA), United States Postal Service (USPS), Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Board engages in at least monthly contact with the individuals at these agencies responsible for facility accessibility, where it not only principally discusses active complaints and the steps agencies are taking to resolve them, but also discusses opportunities for expanding the reach of technical assistance and training services to all other agency employees involved with facility design, construction, maintenance, and leasing. The Board’s aim in this regard is to ensure that ABA-covered facilities comply with all applicable accessibility standards.
The Board continues to respond quickly to all new complaints. Most complainants now file their complaints through its website using its Online ABA Complaint Form, while others e-mail complaints to the Board via a dedicated ABA enforcement email address. Some complaints are referred to the Board by the U.S. Department of Justice, with whom individuals may have filed a complaint about a facility they thought was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (enforced by DOJ) but which is actually covered by the ABA.
Regardless of method of submission, the Board contacts complainants to acknowledge receipt of their complaint and communicates with them regularly thereafter to keep them apprised of the progress in its investigation. Upon completing investigations, the Board always gives complainants an opportunity to comment on the Board’s determinations and actions that have been taken before closing complaints. At the end of the complaint process, the Board seeks feedback through an online Customer Satisfaction Survey. Because the survey is voluntary, and because individuals responding are permitted to do so anonymously, the Board uses this data for anecdotal purposes and, where applicable, to improve the efficiency of its ABA enforcement program.
In order to ensure greater public awareness of its work, the Board continues to post annually a list on its website describing all the ABA corrective actions taken that year to remediate accessibility barriers in federal buildings and facilities. But in the Board’s equity assessment required by Executive Order 13985 Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (January 2021), the Board acknowledged a previously unmet need to focus its ABA outreach and enforcement on underserved communities, where members of those communities have higher incidences of disability and for whom the accessibility of federal buildings and facilities is essential. Aside from expanding outreach to underserved communities, the Board is developing a strategy of collaboration with sister agencies with oversight of facilities in those communities, such as the Department of the Interior (including the Bureaus of Indian Affairs, Indian Education, and Trust Fund Administration), the Department of Health and Human Services (including the Indian Health Service), and the USPS and GSA, which own or lease tens of thousands of facilities across the country, most of which are public facing.
Likewise, pursuant to its obligations under Executive Order 14035 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce (June 2021), the Board is developing a strategy of collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and other agencies to ensure that all federal employees know about the ABA and the fact that they can file ABA complaints with the Board. In addition, the Board’s strategy will help other agencies comply with their obligations pursuant to this Executive Order to ensure that their facilities not only comply with the ABA and related standards but also go beyond those legal requirements to maximize the accessibility of agency workplaces and reduce the need for reasonable accommodations.
The Board also continues to work with the HUD to encourage its adoption of the current ABA accessibility standards. It appears that the Board’s efforts have borne fruit, because HUD, in its FY2021 Spring Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, announced its intention to do precisely that.
Finally, despite its many recent efforts to improve the functionality of its legacy software for its Complaint Tracking System, the Board acknowledges that the software has significant limitations and that there are more up-to-date and less expensive software solutions available. The Board began to conduct market research for a new IT solution to support its enforcement program.
FY 2022 Planned Activities: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
The Board will continue to investigate complaints under the ABA. Based on complaint closures to date in the current fiscal year, it expects to receive 200 new complaints, and close 204. Of the 204, the Board expects to close 55 following investigations and the completion of corrective action, with an additional 38 investigations resulting in determinations that it lacked jurisdiction or that the complaint allegations did not amount to a violation of the standards. The Board expects to refer complainants to other federal agencies in 70 matters, when it is clear—prior to the commencing of an investigation—that the allegations relate to a disability-related or civil rights law other than the ABA. Finally, the Board plans to close 40 matters for administrative reasons.
The Board will continue to provide periodic updates to complainants on the status of their complaints. It will continue to refine program processes based on performance measures developed earlier to better increase efficiency in the operation of the compliance and enforcement program. It will also consider the input it receives from its Customer Satisfaction Survey to assist in these efforts.
Consistent with Executive Order 14035, the Board will begin executing its plan to work with federal agencies across the government (via coordination with the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, and the General Services Administration) to ensure that they know about and fully understand their minimum obligations under the ABA and ways they can go beyond those requirements so that the federal government can be a model of facility accessibility and the need for reasonable accommodations can be reduced. The Board will publicize recommendations and resources that agencies can consider as they develop and execute their DEIA Strategic Plans required by the Executive Order. The Board will also take proactive measures to ensure that federal employees know about the ABA and how they can file ABA complaints with the Board in the event they encounter accessibility barriers in their workplaces.
The Board also plans to produce an overview video on the ABA that covers its jurisdiction, what facilities are likely or unlikely to be covered, and how complaints are investigated and to publish a year-end news story on its website that summarizes the ABA cases closed during the fiscal year.
Consistent with Executive Order 13985 and its Equity Action Plan, the Board will begin executing its strategies for working with members of underserved communities with higher incidences of disability to expand its outreach and for working with federal agencies that operate facilities where in-person services are provided to members of those communities (e.g., Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, U.S. Postal Service, and Social Security Administration) to ensure that ABA-covered facilities are accessible.
The Board will coordinate with HUD as necessary to assist in HUD’s adoption of its accessibility standards under the ABA, which HUD has indicated is one of its regulatory priorities.
The Board will procure a new Complaint Tracking System software solution and the services to customize that software to its current ABA enforcement processes, optimize system performance, and further expedite complaint handling.
FY 2023 Objectives: ABA Enforcement and Awareness
The Board will continue to investigate complaints under the ABA. Based on an expected increase in complaint filings due to the Board’s plans to expand outreach to other federal agencies about the ABA complaint process, consistent with Executive Order 14035, the Board estimates that it will receive 220 new complaints, and close 202. Of the 202, it expects to close 60 following investigations and the completion of corrective actions, and 41 following investigations and determinations of no jurisdiction or no violation. Based on averages compiled from FY2021 data and out FY2022 estimates, the Board expects to refer complainants in another 63 matters to other federal agencies, and to close 38 matters for administrative reasons.
Aside from its efforts under Executive Order 14035, the Board will continue focusing on the accessibility of facilities in underserved communities, consistent with Executive Order 13985 and its Equity Action Plan.
The Board will continue to provide effective and responsible customer service and increase efficiency in the operation of the compliance and enforcement program.
FY 2021 Results: Accessible Federal Information and Communication Technology
The federal government must serve as a model employer of people with disabilities, as underscored by the DEIA Executive Order (14035). Ensuring equity and inclusion for federal employees with disabilities involves full and equal access not just to the physical work areas but also to the digital workspace. Access to ICT for employees was made even more critical by the government’s sudden transition to widespread telework due to the pandemic. Not only is this access required under the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, but it ensures equal access to federal employment for people with disabilities and reduces the need for agencies to undertake individual accommodations. The Board is undertaking initiatives in partnership with other federal agencies to promote and advance ICT accessibility throughout the federal sector.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Board has called attention to the importance of making sure that virtual meetings and events are inclusive of people with disabilities. In January 2021, the Board conducted a public forum on access to virtual platforms that provided information, guidance, and resources to federal agencies, businesses, and other entities. This well-attended event featured presenters from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission who explained the accessibility features and challenges of various remote platforms, including Zoom, Webex, and Teams.
The Board also devoted sessions in its Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series to this topic, including a session on “Providing Accessibility to ICT for Federal Employees under the Rehabilitation Act (Sections 504 and 508)” and a two-part review of the updated Section 508 Standards.
In FY 2021, the Board also began collaborating with GSA, OPM, and OMB on promoting access to ICT in the federal workplace under the DEIA Executive Order. This will include working with GSA to provide guidance, training, and resources to federal agencies on ICT accessibility and the Board’s Section 508 Standards.
FY 2022 Planned Activities: Accessible Federal Information and Communication Technology
Last September, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council updated the federal government’s procurement regulations to incorporate the Board’s refreshed Section 508 Standards. As a result of this action, federal agencies must ensure that the ICT they procure, including those used internally by employees, are compliant with these updated Standards. In FY 2022, the Board plans to continue to provide webinars, training, and guidance to federal agencies on these updated requirements and new provisions in the 508 Standards.
Under the DEIA Executive Order, the Board will partner with GSA, OPM, and OMB to promote best practices, resources, and guidance for federal agencies in ensuring access to ICT in the federal workplace. For example, the Board will be part of a “virtual summit” on the topic hosted by OPM. The Board also intends to conduct webinars and virtual forums with GSA to promote DEIA resources and guidance pertinent to ICT accessibility. The Board will also be available to assist federal agencies in addressing accessibility of ICT in their DEIA strategic plans.
FY 2023 Objectives: Accessible Federal and Communication Technology
The Board plans to continue its collaboration with GSA on promoting ICT accessibility in FY 2023. As part of this effort, it will provide guidance to federal agencies on their annual update of the DEIA strategic plans to further advance the accessibility of ICT used by employees.
FY2021 Results: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
As noted above, the federal government must serve as a model employer of people with disabilities, as underscored by the DEIA Executive Order. The Board prides itself on its history of inclusiveness in employment. By the very nature of its mission, the Board is devoted to making America a more accessible and inclusive place for people with all types of disabilities. In addition, the Board consistently exceeds OPM and OMB’s goals for the hiring of people with disabilities for its staff.
FY2022 Planned Activities: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
As a micro agency, the Board and its employment initiatives and goals are limited to its 30 staff positions, since the selection of governing Board members rests with the White House. Historically, the agency has had exceptionally low turnover, oftentimes resulting in several years when the Board has had no vacancies. In a typical year, the Board may recruit for one or two positions. In these recruitment moments, the agency has an exemplary record of inclusion; it is part of who the Board is as an agency, and the Board will continue this as it moves forward.
To further this goal for FY 2022, the Board is ensuring that leaders at all levels promote the vision for DEIA by taking actions to increase diversity and equity in the workforce and maintain an inclusive and accessible workplace by implementing a new performance standard for supervisors and managers that focuses on employee career development and the cultivation of an inclusive, constructive work environment that is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies and principles and is based on transparent communication, mutual trust, and respect.
Additionally, the Board is improving the consistency of desired outcomes by strengthening policies and procedures, utilizing technology, and enhancing training.
FY2023 Objectives: Model Employer of Persons with Disabilities
The Board plans to continue its effort and practices for hiring people with disabilities in FY 2023. As part of this effort, it will recruit, hire, and develop a high-performing workforce that reflects the diversity of communities the Board serves by optimizing outreach.
Promote Accessibility throughout Society
As noted above, the Board’s technical assistance and ABA enforcement program assist in promoting accessibility in various segments of society. The Board also promotes accessibility in the public sphere in other ways, apprising various audiences about accessible design, disability-related issues, and its programs and services. The Board has two primary objectives in this program area:
- Identify and address inequities in accessibility faced by underserved communities
- Identify and work to address barriers to accessibility beyond those covered by the Board’s guidelines and standards
The Board approaches these objectives with three strategies:
- To sustain and increase public awareness of the Board and its activities
- To engage more impactfully and meaningfully with the public
- To research and learn more about communities impacted by accessibility barriers and disability-related concerns
FY 2021 Results
Access Board Meetings
The Board holds six formal meetings each year. Typically, five are business meetings in Washington, D.C., and the sixth is held outside the Washington, D.C. area and serves as an opportunity for the Board to examine innovations in accessible design undertaken around the country and to promote accessibility throughout society. As a result of the pandemic, the Board conducted all its meetings virtually in FY 2021.
Virtual Public Events
With the transition to virtual Board meetings, the Board initiated virtual public events to accompany the bimonthly formal meetings. Board staff from multiple units hosted and managed these public events by creating an accessible experience for attendees. These public events were free to the public, who were also able to pose questions to presenters. These public events included 500 – 800 attendees for each event.
Virtual Platforms (January 2021). This event featured presentations on conducting virtual meetings and events that are accessible to persons with disabilities. Guest speakers from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission explained features of accessible virtual platforms, highlighted common access issues, and reviewed best practice recommendations and resources for platform accessibility.
Public Forum on Inclusive Design of Autonomous Vehicles (March-April 2021). In the spring of 2021, Board staff organized and conducted a series of virtual meetings on making autonomous vehicles (AVs) accessible to passengers with disabilities in partnership with other federal agencies. The four-part series provided an open forum where members of the public and stakeholders shared information on designing AVs that are inclusive of everyone, including passengers with mobility, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Each session featured presentations by invited speakers who shared information and research results on design considerations and accessibility solutions. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to presenters and to share comments, recommendations, and ideas. The Board issued a report that summarized the information and recommendations shared in these sessions. This report is publicly available on the Board’s website.
Self-service Transaction Machines (May 2021). This event included panelists who addressed usability issues and barriers that people with sensory, cognitive, physical, or multiple disabilities encounter when using kiosks, point-of-sales machines, and other SSTMs. Speakers included representatives from the Blinded Veterans Association, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network, and the United Spinal Association.
Inclusive Exercise and Fitness Equipment (July 2021). This event featured panel presentations on the need for access to fitness equipment, efforts to address equipment accessibility, and implementation of inclusive fitness equipment. Invited speakers included advocates, researchers, industry representatives, and three current and former Paralympians.
Public Briefing on Study on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Securement Systems in Passenger Aircraft (September 2021). This event was a public briefing on TRB’s final report “Technical Feasibility of a Wheelchair Securement Concept for Airline Travel: A Preliminary Assessment.” Members of the TRB Study Committee presented on the two-year research study that focused on the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with securement systems for wheelchairs.
Designing for Inclusion: Architectural Trends and Social Justice (November 2021). This event focused on current trends in architectural design for toilet rooms, lavatories, adult changing tables, self-service transaction machines, wayfinding, dining surfaces and tables, and accessible routes, including those that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters highlighted aspects of those trends that advance equity and inclusion and discussed design alternatives to trends that are not fully accessible to all.
In FY 2021, Board staff presented at many national, regional, and state conferences, forums, and events to advance accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Board staff presented on various topics, such as the President’s Executive Orders, emerging technology and trends, information and communication technology resources, accessibility in the federal workplace, accessible voting and polling places, and the guidelines and standards under the ADA, ABA, and Section 508, to name a few.
The Board has also dedicated more staff time and resources to fulfilling the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (13985) and Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships (13175). As an agency dedicated to accessible design for persons with disabilities, all of the agency’s activities in some way advance equity and remove barriers for underserved individuals; however, the agency has dedicated more staff time and resources to ensuring that people with disabilities in underserved communities and Tribal Nations are informed about and acquire its services. The following actions provide some highlights of accomplishments in FY 2021:
- Created an extensive contact list of professional organizations specifically serving professionals who identify as racial and ethnic minorities in the fields of architecture, design, engineering, and construction;
- Developed and began to distribute promotional materials;
- Delivered presentations to officials at Inter-Tribal organizations and executives at non-profit organizations and participated in a national stakeholder meeting on advancing inclusive planning in Tribal communities;
- Developed a project to translate ABA and ADA Standards and Guidelines and agency technical assistance materials into Spanish and contracted with an organization to translate major Board documents.
The Board’s website continues to serve as a leading resource on accessible design and federal accessibility guidelines and standards. Through this site, the Board provides updates to the public on initiatives in rulemaking, research, ABA enforcement, and other programs. The Board’s guidelines and standards, published guidance, animations, and other resources are also available on the site.
Management of the website requires several Board staff in designing, maintaining, and updating the webpages. The Board’s Web Team regularly meets and works toward creating a more streamlined design to make information easier to find, as well as providing new menus and cross links to enhance navigation of key resources.
FY 2022 Planned Activities
So far in FY 2022, the Board has promoted awareness of its work, programs, and services and will continue to do so. The Board has planned the following activities:
- Virtual public event on equity in healthcare for people with disabilities (January 2022). This event featured panel presentations on standards, research, and resources related to healthcare accessibility, including inclusive medical equipment, healthcare facility design, and information technology, and communication devices and systems. Members of the public were able to pose questions to the presenters during the event.
- Out-of-town Board Meeting in Philadelphia (September 2022). This three-day meeting will involve visits to underserved communities in Philadelphia, including the city’s Parks and Recreation, arts and culture organizations, and immigrant communities.
The Board will continue to undertake initiatives to enhance equity for historically underserved communities. As part of this effort, the Board will develop an outreach campaign to provide information on services and programs to underserved communities with high rates of disability and professionals serving those communities, establish and strengthen relationships with federal agencies that own or lease federal facilities where in-person services are provided to underserved communities with high rates of disability, and work with federal agencies to establish ABA compliance strategies aimed at proactively ensuring the accessibility of buildings and facilities in underserved communities through accessibility assessments and the remediation of architectural barriers.
In addition, the Board plans to develop an outreach program to new stakeholders in emerging industries. New technologies and innovations are transforming communication, interaction with the built environment, and transportation. For example, the manufacturers of autonomous vehicles and interactive kiosks, and alliances or associations representing them, have consulted the Board on how to appropriately integrate accessibility into their designs and concepts. In FY 2022, the Board will undertake an awareness campaign targeted to this new and growing audience to ensure that accessibility is considered and included in new designs.
Finally, the Board seeks to acquire services from a marketing firm to enhance its public profile. Since the Board is a small agency, it is oftentimes relatively unknown by many individuals in the public or other federal employees. Without the resources and support to develop a marketing plan, the agency is faced with the challenge of raising extensive public awareness about its existence, mission, values, and activities. As such, in order to achieve its inspiring mission with its limited staff and resources, the Board plans to procure marketing services that can assist in evaluating its marketing opportunities regarding branding, outreach to communities, and multimedia productions.
FY 2023 Objectives
The Board will continue to reach out to professional associations, trade groups, and other organizations whose members can benefit from its technical assistance services as well as to historically underserved communities. It plans to contact and meet with representatives from identified organizations using prepared outreach materials to promote its technical assistance services. In addition, Board staff will follow up with targeted professional and trade associations to assess additional opportunities for partnership with the Board, such as webinars, trainings, or technical assistance materials.
The Board also aims to develop programs for events on the need for access to types of products, equipment, and vehicles that the Board does not have authority to regulate. This work will require extensive research that the Board plans to begin in FY 2023.
Improve Agency Systems and Modernize Operations
For FY 2022 through FY 2026, the Board has added a stewardship objective to its strategic plan to improve agency systems and modernize operations. The Board has set the following objectives:
- Use data and technology to enhance operations and services.
- Use tools and internal systems to consolidate and retain agency knowledge.
- Update agency policies, procedures, and administrative regulations.
The Modernizing Government Technology Act delivers a clear mandate to federal agencies to look for ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness and improve service to the public. The Board has a requirement to employ centralized identity management systems for agency users that can be integrated into applications and common platforms. IT resources are critical in support of the Board’s strategic objective to improve agency systems and modernize operations. This objective includes using data and technology to enhance operations and services, using tools and internal systems to consolidate and retain agency knowledge, and updating agency policies, procedures, and administrative regulations. The overall goal of the Board, in accordance with recent and ongoing IT mandates, is to create a common environment for enterprise platform standards, processes, and governance, modernize legacy agency equipment, and secure and enhance the IT infrastructure. The IT appropriation provides resources for IT security enhancement modernization efforts, continued adoption of cloud-based computing solutions, consolidation of infrastructure and networks, and the modernization of legacy IT systems and applications. This funding level will also support the maintenance and enhancement of foundational capabilities that facilitate cloud migration and increase functionality.
Access Board Budget
|Description||FY 2021||FY 2022||FY 2023 Request|
|BOARD MEETINGS / PUBLIC HEARINGS||332,800||343,100||238,800|
|Advisory & Ad-Hoc Committee Meetings||0||0||0|
|Training / Site Visits / Other||20,000||20,000||40,000|
|Cost Assessments / RIA||0||250,000||300,000|
|ADMIN SUPPORT SERVICES||778,000||997,500||1,039,700|
|IT SUPPORT SERVICES||1,457,500||1,486,200||1,540,700|
|MISC OPERATING EXPENSES||84,800||84,900||91,700|
|Postage / Courier / Mailing Services||5,000||5,000||5,000|
|RECEIPTS FOR PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING||50,000||50,000||50,000|
The Board is requesting a total budget authority in FY 2023 of $9,850,000. Pub. L. 117-103, the FY 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act, provided the Board with $9,750,000 in funding.
The Board anticipates it will use 32 FTE in FY 2023. The Board is planning on 5 days of pay per public Board member (Presidentially appointed) for each of its in-person Board meetings and for one out-of-town meeting. Three of its regular board meetings will be held virtually, and members will receive 3 days of pay for each of those meetings.
The Board has calculated benefits (including the transit subsidy) based on its experience with the benefit packages employees have chosen in the past. Benefits for public Board members include only the Social Security and Medicare allotment from the employer.
It currently has four vacant positions, which it plans to fill in FY 2022. Some of these positions have been restructured to create career ladder positions. Therefore, although the Board has incorporated the President’s planned recommendation of a 4.6 percent cost of living increase, its personnel numbers do not reflect that full amount, since some positions will be filled at lower grades than in prior years.
Its personnel staff salary line includes an award amount equal to 4 percent of GS salaries. This will allow the Board to provide meaningful recognition for annual performance awards and provide for special act awards where warranted.
|BOARD MEETINGS / PUBLIC HEARINGS|
This budget line includes all costs related to its board meetings and public hearings, except for salaries. This includes travel expenses, meeting space rental, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and sign language interpreters for all board and other public meetings.
As mentioned in the Personnel line, the Board plans to continue holding 3 of its board meetings virtually. This will result in a cost savings, compared with its FY 2022 budget, which assumed that the board would travel for each of the 6 meetings.</td> </tr>
The Board’s travel budget primarily covers its travel expenses related to attendance at annual trade meetings related to its accessibility-related mission. Examples include the annual CSUN technology exposition and meetings of building code groups of which the Board is a standing member, such as the ANSI A117 committee. Occasionally, the Board conducts site visits related to Architectural Barriers Act complaints. In conjunction with some rulemaking, the Board occasionally establishes special committees, and the travel for those committees would be included on this budget line; however, none is planned for FY 2022.
In FY 2022 and years prior, the Board had sought reimbursement for travel related to accessibility training. However, the Board does not do a significant amount of this type of travel, and the administrative costs related to processing the reimbursements proved to be more expensive than the travel costs. Therefore, the Board is suspending its travel reimbursement activity for the foreseeable future. As a result, it is reflecting an increase in its travel costs.</td> </tr>
|FY 2022||$ 20,000|
|FY 2023||$ 40,000|
The Board’s rent is set by the General Services Administration. The Board entered into a new occupancy agreement, effective January 1, 2022. Because GSA had not yet entered into a new lease agreement at the time it estimated the rent for FY 2022, and the cost of a new lease was unknown, GSA’s estimate for that year was high. GSA’s rent estimate for FY 2023 is based on the new lease. The amount on this line also includes other costs related to its space, such as maintenance and security.
Contracting for research to assist in its guidelines and standards development and to provide technical assistance materials is crucial to the Board’s mission. Funds also are used to conduct required regulatory assessments for its rulemaking. The research funds requested will allow the Board to move forward with its rulemaking agenda, which includes the issuance of new guidelines and updating existing guidelines.
|ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT SERVICES||
The Board contracts with the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) in the Department of the Treasury to provide procurement, financial, payroll, and personnel services. Approximately $763,000 of its costs are for services the Board receives from BFS. The cost for administrative support services from other federal agencies has increased significantly in the past two fiscal years. Additional costs are for support of its webinars, through which most of its training is conducted. The Board also has contracted for records management consulting services, and have another contract for GovDelivery, which supports its public outreach initiative.
|INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT SERVICESs||
This is the yearly cost of the Board’s telephone and desktop computing needs including desktop and laptop computers, assistive technology, local area network servers, software, printers, and maintenance and support services (including website hosting and internet service). A large portion of its IT budget goes toward the provision of network security and operational integrity of the Board’s network. This includes a network certification and Authority to Operate, Trusted Internet Connection, and use of the Einstein system to comply with OMB Memorandum M-17-25, “Reporting Guidance for Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” These expenditures will help the Board meet the Federal Information Security Management Act and provide certification of the Board’s network, required to access other agency networks (e.g., the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s HR Connect System for personnel services). Funds also will be used to provide annual security network maintenance for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Cybersecurity program.
Publishing proposed and final rules in the Federal Register is a relatively high cost for the Board. Printing in the Federal Register costs $453 per page. Other items in this category include printing its final rules in the Code of Federal Regulations and miscellaneous printing requirements.
|MISCELLANEOUS OPERATING EXPENSES||
Expenditures in this category include postage, overnight shipping, and in-town delivery service. The Board contracts with the Interior Business Center in the Department of the Interior to provide services for the mandatory drug testing program. Other expenditures are for a reader to provide audio tapes as alternate format publications and miscellaneous operating expenses not reflected elsewhere. Its yearly financial audit is included along with book purchases for its library collection of accessible design materials, staff training, office supplies, and equipment purchases.
|RECEIPTS FOR PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING||
We expect to receive approximately $50,000 in FY 2022 in reimbursements for travel associated with accessibility training, as authorized under 29 USC 792.
|FY 2020||FY 2022|| FY 2022
| FY 2023
|Complaints pending at start of the fiscal year||104||177||83||79|
|Complaints received during the fiscal year||140||180||200||220|
|Total complaints closed during the fiscal year||167||174||204||202|
|after our investigation resulted in completed corrective action||55||38||55||60|
|after our investigation resulted in a determination that we did not have jurisdiction||7||23||16||20|
|after our investigation resulted in a determination that there was no violation of the standards||15||20||22||21|
|after the issuance of a waiver or modification by the standard-setting agency||0||1||1||0|
|after a referral absent an investigation||43||56||70||63|
|for administrative reasons||47||36||40||38|
|Complaints pending at end of the fiscal year||77||83||79||97|
|FY 2019||FY 2020|| FY 2021
| FY 2022
|Technical Assistance Calls and Faxes||6,278||5,300||5,500||6,000|
|Website User Sessions||938,000||1,555,142||1.7 million||1.9 million|