Today, the U.S. Access Board celebrates the 12th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day dedicated to conversations and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. The Board is a leading source of information on accessible design, including access to information and communication technology (ICT) under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. The Board also issues Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards for the built environment, transportation vehicles, and recreation and outdoor developed areas.
Over the last year, Board staff met with international officials and delegates, such as representatives of the Polish Plenipotentiary for Disabled People, Commissioner Jürgen Dusel of the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters Relating to Persons with Disabilities in Germany, and representatives of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization, to discuss the Board’s accessibility guidelines and standards, regulations and rules, technical assistance services and programs, and public engagement with the American people. Board staff were also consulted by advisors to European Parliament Member Katrin Langensiepen to provide information and training on the agency and structure of disability laws in the U.S. This information was used to create a report for the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO). The IMCO used the report in the design and establishment of an Accessible Centre by the European Commission. Board staff will meet with officials from the European Commission in June 2023 to discuss updates on the Centre, development of accessibility standards, application of the Board’s Section 508 Standards, and training programs.
Board staff also convened with international groups part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a premier professional exchange program that brings together foreign leaders and American counterparts to engage on emerging issues, policy goals, and shared interests. These meetings involved IVLP groups with representatives from Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia to discuss federal laws and standards, practices to promote accessibility throughout society, and long-term collaboration and partnership opportunities.
Next month, IVLP participants from the Middle East and North Africa and officials from the Korean Disabled People’s Development Institute will meet with Board staff to learn about the Board’s accessibility guidelines and standards, regulations and rules, technical assistance services, and efforts to make environments accessible for people with disabilities.
Throughout the year, Board staff will continue to routinely advance accessible ICT through various activities. Board staff contribute weekly to activities of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Groups (AGWG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the WCAG Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and the Board’s involvement ensures harmonization of global standards for digital accessibility standards. In addition, Board staff continue their long-standing ex parte participation with European Standards groups European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELAC) in revising EN 301 549, a harmonized standard that supports the European Web Accessibility Directive 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies.
Board staff will also present on the National Federation of the Blind’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day Webinar: Section 508, which is on May 18 at 3:00 (ET) and is open to the public, and as part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Digital Accessibility Week.
The Board regularly provides both virtual and in-person training on its accessibility guidelines and standards to many different organizations, groups, and government agencies across the country and internationally. For further information or to request training, contact Josh Schorr, the Board’s Training Coordinator, at email@example.com. Additionally, the Board conducts free monthly webinars through its partnership with the ADA National Network. Webinars cover accessible ICT as well as accessibility in the built environment. Upcoming webinars are posted on the Board’s Webinars & Training webpage.
Accessibility Specialists are available to assist with questions on the Board’s Section 508 Standards via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board also operates a technical assistance hotline to help professionals and other members of the public implement accessibility guidelines and standards. Individuals may contact Accessibility Specialists at 1-202-272-0080, extension 3 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ET weekdays or send an email to email@example.com.