Introduction

Welcome to the Access Board’s FOIA page. We hope to provide you helpful information about the Access Board and about the Freedom of Information Act. Below is a description of that Act, as well as a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

FOIA Officer

Lisa Fairhall, Deputy General Counsel
U.S. Access Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
202-272-0046 (voice)
202-272-0081 (fax)
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The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552), provides a right of access to the public of government records. The Act also allows the government to withhold certain information in responding to those requests in nine exemptions, including for national security, deliberative process and attorney client, and confidential business information, to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does FOIA do?

As noted above, FOIA provides a right of access to the public of government records. The Act also allows the government to withhold certain information in responding to those requests in nine exemptions, including for national security, deliberative process and attorney client, and confidential business information, to name a few.

2. Can I ask a question under FOIA?

Yes, but please be aware that FOIA does not require agencies to do research, analyze data, answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request.

Staff at the Access Board are availble to provide technical assistance on a variety of issues. Please reference our e-mail directory for the types of questions we answer quickly and routinely. If it suits your need, please consider using that contact information instead of submitting a FOIA request.

It is important to understand that there is no central office in the government which processes FOIA requests for all agencies; each Federal agency responds to FOIA requests for records in its own files. Thus, the public may submit FOIA requests to the Access Board to obtain records that are in the Access Board’s files.

3. How do I submit a FOIA request?

Individuals wishing to file a FOIA request must write a letter to submit a FOIA request. Address your letter to:

FOIA Officer,
U.S. Access Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004

You may also fax your letter to: 202-272-0081, or send your request by e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

4. Do I need to submit a particular form to request documents under FOIA?

No. However, in order to process your request, you need to reasonably describe the records you are looking for, providing as much information as possible (in order for the Access Board to search for them). The Access Board may also contact you to request that you provide more detail.

5. Is there a fee to submit a FOIA request?

The Access Board, like other agencies, may charge a fee for responding to your FOIA request. The amount of thefee depends on who you are and why you are making a FOIA request. The FOIA Act divides requesters into four categories for fees, as described below. In addition, in certain circumstances, the Access Board may request advance payment of fees. You may also indicate, in your letter, how much in fees you are willing to pay, before the Access Board needs to contact you.

Commercial use requesters:
When the Access Board receives a request for documents for commercial use, it will assess charges that recover the full direct cost of searching for, reviewing for release, and duplicating the records sought.
Educational and non-commercial scientific institution requests:
The Access Board shall provide documents to requesters in this category for the cost of reproduction alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
Representatives of the news media:
The Access Board shall provide documents to requesters in this category for the cost of reproduction alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
All other requesters:
The Access Board shall charge requesters who do not fit into any of the categories above fees that recover the full reasonable direct cost of searching for and reproducing records that are responsive to the request, except that the first 100 pages of reproduction and the first two hours of search time shall be furnished without charge.

The Access Board may waive fees, in whole or in part, if “disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” If you wish to request a waiver of fees, please provide as much information as possible about how you will be using the information in order for the Access Board to make its determination.

Please note that in certain circumstances, such as when fees exceed $250, the Access Board may contact a requester for the advance payment of fees by check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury.

6. How long will it take to receive an answer to my FOIA request?

The FOIA Act gives the Access Board a minimum of 20 working days (that’s excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) to respond to your request. The Access Board can also extend that time period an additional 10 working days (the Access Board will send you a notification when that occurs). The 20-day time period only begins when the Access Board has received your request.

7. What if I have concerns about the processing of my FOIA request or about the response I receive to my FOIA request?

If you have questions or concerns about the status or processing of your request, you may call the FOIA officer, at 202-272-0046. The FOIA Officer is available to assist you in answering questions that you have about your request.

Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is addressed by Board standards and guidelines issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act.

Communications & IT - people using desktops and laptops in an office setting

Telecomm IconApply to telecommunication products and equipment covered by §255 of the Telecommunications Act

ICT Refresh IconJoint update of the §508 Standards and the §255 Guidelines

Standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) address access to buildings and sites nationwide in new construction and alterations. Similar standards apply to building and sites funded by the Federal government under Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).

buildings-and-sites

Intro to the ADA Standards

Intro to the Guide on the ADA Standards

Background to the ADA Standards

The Board's guidelines issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) have been completely updated and revised. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) cover the construction and alteration of facilities in the private sector (places of public accommodation and commercial facilities) and the public sector (state and local government facilities). The accessibility guidelines issued under the ABA primarily address facilities in the Federal sector and others designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds. The guidelines under both laws have been updated together in one rule that contains three parts: a scoping document for ADA facilities, a scoping document for ABA facilities, and a common set of technical criteria that the scoping sections will reference. As a result, the requirements for both ADA and ABA facilities will be made more consistent.

Current Status: On July 23, 2004, the Board published the guidelines in final form along with a regulatory assessment.

ADA standards and ABA standards maintained by other agencies have been updated based on these guidelines.

Intro to the ABA Standards Guide

Background to the ABA Standards

A supplement to the standards that will address temporary housing provided in disasters and emergencies

A supplement to the standards that will address acoustics in classrooms

Acoustical performance is an important consideration in the design of classrooms.  Research indicates that levels of background noise and reverberation, little noticed by adults, adversely affect learning environments for young children, who require optimal conditions for hearing and comprehension.  Poor classroom acoustics are an additional educational barrier for children who have hearing loss and those who use cochlear implants, since assistive technologies amplify both wanted and unwanted sound.  Children who have temporary hearing loss, who may comprise up to 15% of the school age population according to the Centers for Disease Control, are also significantly affected, as are children who have speech impairments or learning disabilities.  Kids whose home language is different than the teaching language are also at additional risk of educational delay and failure.

Access to recreation facilities, including play areas, swimming pools, sports facilities, fishing piers, boating facilities, golf courses, and amusement rides is addressed in the ADA and ABA standards.  New provisions cover access to trails, picnic and camping sites, and beaches on Federal sites.

Recreation Facilities - a roller coaster

New guidelines the Board is developing will cover access to public rights-of-way, including sidewalks, intersections, street crossings, and on-street parking. The Board is also addressing access to shared use paths providing off-road means of transportation and recreation.

Streets & Sidewalks - a paved path through a residential area

New guidelines that will address pedestrian access to sidewalks and streets

Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations

August 2007

Access to public transportation is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws. Standards issued under the ADA address access to facilities and to vehicles of public transit systems. The Board is developing new guidelines for passenger vessels under the ADA.  

Transportation - a fleet of buses

Apply to bus stops, rail stations, and airports and other transportation facilities

New guidelines that will address access to passenger vessels, including ferries and cruise ships

Published in Federal Register on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.  Comment period ends on September 23, 2013.

36 CFR Chapter XI
Docket No. ATBCB 2013-0003
RIN 3014-AA11

To help identify the cost impacts of the potential vessel guidelines, 10 vessel case studies were conducted.  The case studies provided below reflect the provisions in the 2008 draft.  As no operator of a large cruise ship was willing to participate in a study, only one (small) cruise ship study was conducted.  Similarly, a case study of an off-shore excursion vessel (carrying more than 150 passengers) was sought, but no operator was willing to participate.  Plans for a study of a gaming vessel were cancelled after the American Gaming Association indicated that such a study was no longer needed.  Likewise, a study of a tender (carrying 60 or more passengers) was not undertaken as the International Council of Cruise Lines (now part of Cruise Lines International Association) indicated that such a study was not necessary.  Lastly, a study of a high speed vehicle ferry was cancelled as the general impacts are believed to be caught in the study of the 450 passenger high speed ferry.

For the 399 passenger traditional passenger ferry, there was no ownership involvement in developing the final draft report.  For the 600 passenger dinner vessel, there was no ownership involvement in the case study.

December 2000
Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee

The Access Board created a Passenger Vessel Emergency Alarms Advisory Committee to provide advice on whether current emergency alarm system designs and practices on passenger vessels meet the access needs of individuals with hearing loss or deafness; alternative designs or technologies for emergency alarm systems appropriate for use on passenger vessels that meet the access needs of individuals with hearing loss or deafness; and recommended accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels related to emergency alarm systems.

The Board is developing accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment under the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  The Board is also develping guidance on accessible prescription drug container labels.

Medical Equipment - a large radiological machine is used to help diagnose a patient

Training

The Access Board provides training on its accessibility guidelines and standards to various organizations and groups across the country. Most training sessions focus on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) which cover the built environment and transportation vehicles. ADAAG training also addresses new or upcoming sections, such as those covering children’s environments, play areas, state and local government facilities, and recreation facilities. In addition to ADAAG, training is available on design requirements for Federal facilities, telecommunications equipment, and electronic and information technology.

The Board tailors its training to the particular needs and interests of each audience. Board training is of particular interest to design professionals and architects, facility operators and managers, the transportation industry, the disability community, and members of other professions and groups that work with any of the Board’s guidelines and standards. Board staff often reserve time for question-and-answer sessions at training events. This kind of interaction is particularly helpful in gauging the information needs of the Board’s various audiences

Most training sessions are held at the request of, or in partnership with, organizations or groups holding conferences and seminars that include accessibility or the ADA on the agenda. Due to budget constraints, the Board usually requests reimbursement of travel costs for its participation. Board policy requires that the events it participates in be conducted in accessible facilities and be communicated, upon request, in accessible formats. The Board likes to arrange additional training opportunities once it is scheduled to be in a particular area.

For more information or request training from the Board, contact training coordinator Peggy Greenwell by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (202) 272-0017 (voice) or (202) 272-0082 (TTY).

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