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July 15, 2016

The Access Board recently convened for its July meeting. On July 11 and 12, Board members met in committee to advance agency rulemaking, review agency programs and operations, and attend presentations on various subjects. They also held meetings with several organizations as part of an agency outreach initiative. At the full meeting of the Board on July 13, which was streamed live, members received reports on these activities and a new member to the Board was sworn in.

   Board member Shelley Siegel, FASID and Board Chair Sue Swenson
  Shelley Siegel, FASID (right) with Access Board Chair Sue Swenson

New Board Member

Board members welcomed Shelley Siegel, FASID of Lake Worth, Florida to their ranks. Siegel, who was appointed to the Board by President Obama in May, was sworn in by Board Chair Sue Swenson. Siegel is the founder and president of Universal Design and Education Network, an interior design firm that specializes in universal design in residential and commercial projects. She has also been consulting designer of the Siegel Design Group, Inc. since 1972 and is a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and a member of the Design Alliance for Accessible Sustainable Environments.

Board Rulemaking

The Board is taking steps to conclude rulemaking in several areas, including new or updated accessibility guidelines and standards for information and communication technology (ICT), transportation vehicles, public rights-of-way, and medical diagnostic equipment.

ICT Refresh

The Board is working to complete a final rule to refresh its accessibility requirements for ICT covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. The Board has finalized the text of the rule and is in the process of completing a companion discussion of the rule, referred to as the “preamble,” and the necessary cost-benefit analysis or “regulatory assessment.” During the July meeting, the Board heard a progress report on the regulatory assessment from its contractor. The Board is scheduled to vote on the full package later this summer and will then submit it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Once the rule is cleared by OMB, it will be published in the Federal Register and posted on the Board’s website.

Update of ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buses and Vans

Rulemaking is underway to update the Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles. In May, the Board completed work on a final rule that updates guidelines for buses and vans which is currently under review by OMB. The Board will publish the rule once cleared by OMB and will then proceed with rulemaking to update portions of the vehicles guidelines covering rail cars according to recommendations it received from an advisory panel it chartered, the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee, which submitted its report to the Board last year.

Medical Diagnostic Equipment Standards

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Board is developing new standards for medical diagnostic equipment, including examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological equipment, and mammography equipment. The Board is working to complete the final rule, including the preamble and regulatory assessment, for OMB’s review.

Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way and Shared-Use Paths

The Board also is completing work on new guidelines that will address access to public streets and sidewalks and shared-use paths. The text of the guidelines has been finalized, and the Board is preparing the preamble and regulatory assessment.

Presentations

The Board often invites guest speakers to its meetings to present information on various topics, including accessibility initiatives, new access challenges or “frontier issues,” innovative technologies or product solutions, and research results. At the July meeting, members received a presentation by Michele Erwin, the founder and president of All Wheels Up, Inc. an advocacy organization for improved accessibility aboard airplanes. The organization is promoting development and testing of restraint systems to accommodate wheelchairs aboard planes so that users do not have to transfer to boarding chairs and airplane seats.

In addition, Seanna Kringen, a Research Associate with Beneficial Designs, briefed the Board on new standards for accessible fitness equipment developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). She was joined by Ryan Eder, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of IncludeFitness Inc., who demonstrated examples of accessible fitness equipment developed in accordance with the new ASTM standards.

   Board members and staff touring ASID’s new offices in Washington, D.C.
  Board members and staff tour ASID’s new offices in Washington, D.C.

Outreach to Agencies and Organizations

Over the past year, Board members have visited various agencies and organizations to learn more about their work and areas of mutual interest and to share information on Board resources, services, and initiatives. These discussion also have explored potential partnerships in publicizing the work of the Board, conducting trainings and webinars jointly, and promoting research.

In July, Board members met with representatives of ASID, the American Institute of Architects, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Information Technology Industry Council. Board members previously visited the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Restaurant Association, and others.

Next Board Meeting

The Board meets every two months. The next Board and committee meetings will take place September 12 – 14. Subscribe to Board news to receive updates on upcoming meetings and other Board events and activities.