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.
The Board jointly updated its Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in January 2017.
Revised Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines (2017)
On January 18, 2017, the Access Board published a final rule that jointly updates requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communication Act.
The Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. The Section 508 Standards are part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and address access for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. These standards are issued under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access for both members of the public and federal employees to such technologies when developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies.
The Section 255 Guidelines address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment.
The final rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies.
The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT.
On January 22, 2018, the Board corrected the final rule to restore provisions for TTY access that were inadvertently omitted.
Orginal Section 508 Standards (2000)
The Original 508 Standards (December 21, 2000) can be found at 36 CFR Appendix D to Part 1194. They are applicable to conforming information and communication technology that has not been altered after January 18, 2018.
Section 255 Guidelines
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.
On January 18, 2017, the Board published a final rule that updates the Section 255 Guidelines along with accessibility standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Original Section 255 Guidelines (1998)
The original Telecommunication Act Section 255 Accessibility Guidelines (February 3, 1998) can be found in older editions of the Code of Federal Regulations as 36 CFR 1193.