Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (hereafter, “Section 508”), calls for the Access Board to issue and publish standards setting forth the technical and functional performance criteria necessary to implement the Act’s accessibility requirements for electronic and information technology. The statute also provides that the Board shall periodically review and, as appropriate, amend the standards to reflect technological advances or changes in electronic and information technology. This proposed rule uses the term “508 Standards” to refer to the standards called for by the Rehabilitation Act.

Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (hereafter, “Section 255”), tasks the Access Board with the development of guidelines for accessibility of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment, and provides that the Board shall review and update the guidelines periodically. Note that reference is made here to “Section 255 of the Communications Act”, rather than the commonly used reference to “Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996” because the Telecommunications Act does not itself contain a section 255. Instead, the Telecommunications Act amended the Communications Act by adding a new section 255 to it. Therefore, for the sake of simplicity and accuracy, this proposed rule uses the term “255 Guidelines” to refer to the guidelines called for by the amended Communications Act.

As noted in the Summary above, this proposed rule seeks to revise and update both the 508 Standards and 255 Guidelines in a single rulemaking. The Access Board is taking this approach because we feel that the two sets of requirements, by virtue of their subject matter, are inextricably linked from a regulatory and policy perspective.