Section 255 of the Communications Act, as amended by theTelecommunications Act of 1996, requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities. Manufacturers must ensure that products are “designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities” when it is readily achievable to do so.  Accessibility guidelines issued by the Board under Section 255 address the telecommunications products covered including:

  • wired and wireless telecommunication devices, such as telephones (including pay phones and cellular phones), pagers, and fax machines
  • other products that have a telecommunication service capability, such as computers with modems
  • equipment that carriers use to provide services, such as a phone company’s switching equipment.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for enforcing the Communications Act and has issued regulations that contain requirements based on the Board’s guidelines.

Refresh of the Section 255 Guidelines and the Section 508 Standards 

ICT refresh logoThe Board is updating the Section 255 Guidelines jointly with its standards for electronic and information technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.  On February 18, 2015, the Board released a proposed rule which is available for public comment for 90 days.