Board Proposes Updated ICT Accessibility Requirements

collection of IT devices (laptop, tablet, cell phones, disk)The Board has released for public comment a proposed rule updating accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule also would jointly update guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.

“The Board’s proposal is responsive to widespread changes and innovations in the IT and communication industries,” states Sachin Dev Pavithran, Vice Chair of the Access Board. “It is important that the 508 Standards and 255 Guidelines stay abreast of the ever-evolving technologies they cover so that accessibility for people with disabilities is properly addressed.”

The proposed rule updates various requirements to address fundamental shifts and trends in the market, such as the convergence of technologies and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products like smart phones. Another key goal of this update is to promote consistency with other requirements in the U.S. and abroad in order to improve accessibility and to facilitate compliance. A leading reference, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), is incorporated into the rule and applied to web-based content as well as to offline documents and software. The Board is proposing other revisions that will harmonize the rule with voluntary consensus standards, including those issued by other countries and international bodies such as the European Commission due to the global nature of the ICT market.

The proposed rule specifies the technologies covered and contains performance-based criteria as well as technical requirements for hardware, software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing, color perception, speech, manual dexterity, reach, and strength. The proposed rule is based on recommendations from the Board’s Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) which comprised a broad cross-section of stakeholders representing industry, disability groups, government agencies, and other countries. It also incorporates public feedback the Board received through the release of two advance drafts of the rule.

“The significant input the Board has received from stakeholders and interested parties throughout this process is reflected in the proposed rule,” notes Pavithran. “Such collective feedback is critical to getting things right in the final rule, and it is no different with the current proposal, which includes a host of questions the Board is posing to the public to gather additional information on various topics.”

Public comments on the rule, as well as on a preliminary assessment of its estimated costs and benefits, are due in 90 days. The Board also will hold public hearings on the rule in San Diego on March 5 and in Washington, DC on March 11. In addition, the Board will conduct a public webinar to review the proposal on March 31.

Further information on this rulemaking, including a summary of the rule, is available on the ICT Refresh page or by contacting Timothy Creagan at (202) 272-0016 (v), (202) 272-0074 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Rail Access Advisory Committee to Meet February 26 & 27

trainThe Board's Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee (RVAAC), which is assisting the Board in its update of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles, will hold its next meeting February 26 and 27 in Washington, D.C. The committee is reviewing sections of the guidelines that cover fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, intercity, and high speed rail and will make recommendations to the Board on how they should be updated.

At the meeting, committee members will review reports from four subcommittees that recommend updated provisions covering boarding and alighting, on-board circulation and seating, communications, and rooms and spaces. The committee will use these reports in drafting its final report to the Board.

Committee meetings are open to the public, and interested persons can attend and communicate their views on issues of interest during designated public comment periods. Members of the public can follow the proceedings remotely through a dial-in option or real-time captioning.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Paul Beatty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0012 (v), or (202) 272-0072 (TTY).

Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee Meeting
February 26 (10:00 – 5:00) and February 27 (9:30 – 3:00)  Preliminary Agenda
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Call-in option (listening only):
Dial: (888) 396-7314 (International: (773) 756-0935)
Passcode: 3543951
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART):
February 26: www.streamtext.net/player?event=ACCESSBOARD022615
February 27: www.streamtext.net/player?event=ACCESSBOARD022715




Upcoming Board Webinars

laptop with Access Board seal

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place March 5 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will feature an open question and answer session with Board accessibility specialists. Questions are welcome on the Board’s accessibility requirements and rulemaking activities, including the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards, new standards being developed for medical diagnostic equipment, and other topics related to the Board’s work. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. For more information, including registration instructions, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

The following webinar scheduled for April 2 will cover “Frontier Accessibility Issues” and examine trends and technologies impacting accessibility including interactive transaction machines, accessible taxi payment systems, automated wheelchair securement systems, and sign language-to-voice on smart phones.

The webinar series is made available in cooperation with the ADA National Network. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits (CEUs).

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series
The Board, in partnership with the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council, also conducts the Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series. These webinars provide helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to electronic and information technology in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series will be held March 31 from 1:00 – 2:30 (ET) and will review the Board’s proposed refresh of accessibility requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. Further details will be posted at www.adaconferences.org/CIOC/.




 FCC Organizes Disability Advisory Committee

FCC logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has organized a Disability Advisory Committee to advise the Commission on communication accessibility issues within its purview. Subjects the committee may explore include access to telecommunications services and equipment, including hearing aid compatibility, telecommunications relay services, closed captioning, video description, 911 emergency services, and other topics.

“I am tremendously excited for the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee to begin its important work,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “This new Committee will provide sorely needed expertise and recommendations from consumer and industry stakeholders on communications and video programming issues. We look forward to using this expertise to improve our ability to meet the needs of consumers with disabilities.”

The committee’s 37 members represent a balanced cross-section of stakeholders and interested parties, including disability organizations, the communications and video programming industries, the public safety industry, trade associations, academics, researchers, and government agencies, and others. Representatives from the Access Board and two other federal agencies will serve as ex officio members of the committee. The committee's work will be conducted in accordance with regulations governing federal advisory committees.

The FCC plans to organize subcommittees and may invite individuals and organizations not named to the full committee to participate in their work. Subcommittees are planned that will focus on tecommunications relay services, video programming, 911 emergency services, and communications services and equipment.

The Committee will hold its first meeting March 17 from 9:00 to 5:00 at the FCC’s headquarters, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room TW-C305, Washington, DC 20554. The meeting will be open to the public and webcast at www.fcc.gov/live. For more information, visit the FCC’s website or contact Elaine Gardner at (202) 418-0581 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Bureau of Engraving and Printing Distributes Free Currency Reader

Bureau of Engraving and Printing seal and currency readerThe Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is distributing a free currency reader to people with vision impairments upon request. The iBill® Currency Identifier identifies all denominations of U.S. paper currency by either voice announcement, tone pattern, or vibration pattern. This follows a pilot program BEP launched in September through the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to test ordering and distribution processes and to gauge demand in advance of the current roll-out. Approximately 15,000 readers were pre-ordered and delivered under the pilot program.

Those who wish to request a reader can download an application form at BEP’s website. Further information is also available on this site or by contacting BEP at (844) 815-9388 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This program is one of several initiatives BEP has undertaken to promote access to paper currency. Previously, BEP partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to develop apps for mobile devices that scan and identify currency images. There is an app for Apple iOS platforms (EyeNote®) and another for Android phones (IDEAL Currency Reader®).

 


Access Currents is a free newsletter issued by the Access Board every other month by mail and e-mail. Send questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (800) 872-2253 ext. 0026 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). Mailing address: 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000; Washington, D.C. 20004-1111.