Board and European Commission Cooperation Recognized at International Forum

US and European Union FlagsThe commitment of the U.S. and the European Union to harmonize accessibility standards for information and communication technology (ICT) was honored at a recent international conference in Vienna, Austria. The Zero Project, whose mission is working for a world with zero barriers, organized the conference to showcase innovative policies and practices from across the globe to promote access to ICT and education for people with disabilities. It recognized the close collaboration between the U.S. Access Board and the European Commission on standardization of ICT accessibility as one of a dozen exemplary policies to advance inclusive education and ICT.

Over a decade ago, the Access Board and its federal partners began to coordinate and share information with European counterparts on standards for ICT accessibility to advance global consistency. These efforts focused on ICT standards the Board issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and those developed under a European Commission standardization request (Mandate 376).

  Photo of Martin Essl of the Essl Foundation, Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi, Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero of the European Commission, and Jakob von Uexküll, founder of the World Future Council.
 

Martin Essl, founder of the Essl Foundation (left) with (l-r) Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi, Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero of the European Commission, and Jakob von Uexküll, founder of the World Future Council. 

The Zero Project heralded this transatlantic cooperation as “exemplary in the areas of innovation, outcome and impact, and transferability, as it leads to harmonized ICT accessibility requirements and creates an enormous leverage for accessible technologies and wider markets.” It noted that standards for the web, electronic documents, software, and other communication tools are one of the most powerful means of promoting accessibility and that the “aligned standards remove ambiguity, streamline transatlantic trade in accessible ICT solutions, and create greater incentives for business to invest in new innovation.”

Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi and Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero of the European Commission attended the conference to accept this recognition and discuss their organizations’ harmonization efforts. They outlined the coordination and progress made throughout the development of the European Commission standards and the Board’s refresh of its 508 Standards.

“As a result of the good work between the U.S. and the European Commission, there are now two closely harmonized standards that benefit almost 140 million persons with disabilities across Europe and the U.S.,” Capozzi stated. “Having harmonized standards removes ambiguity, increases competition, and leads to better quality of accessibility features.” Calling attention to the challenges of maintaining consistency under separate update cycles, he noted that “an international standard may be the appropriate next step for a truly international approach to e-accessibility.”

The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, collects and shares model solutions for providing accessibility and inclusiveness for people with disabilities to advance implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Over 500 participants from 70 countries attended this year’s conference which focused on ICT solutions for promoting access to primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, vocational and educational training, and early childhood interventions. Further information on the Zero Project and the conference is available at zeroproject.org.




Board to Hold Next Meeting on March 9

Access Board meetingThe Access Board will hold its next meeting March 9 from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET) at the Board's conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The public is welcome to attend in person or through a live webcast of the meeting. The meeting agenda includes updates on Board rulemaking and other activities and election of Board officers.

A public comment period will be held during the final 15 minutes of the meeting. Those interested in making comments in person or by phone should send an email to Rose Bunales at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 2 with “Access Board meeting - Public Comment” in the subject line. Please include your name, organization, state, and topic of your comment in the body of the message.

Meeting of the U.S. Access Board      
March 9, 1:30 – 3:00 (ET)
Webcast link: www.access-board.gov/webcast
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.

 


Board Names Earlene Sesker Training Coordinator

Earlene SeskerEarlene Sesker has been named the Board's new Training Coordinator. Sesker has served as an accessibility specialist at the Access Board for over 20 years where she provides technical assistance to the public on its accessibility guidelines and standards. In her new role, Sesker will oversee the Board's training program and will field training requests and organize training sessions and webinars, among other program duties. The Board regularly conducts training on its accessibility guidelines and standards upon request at various events and conferences across the county. In addition, it conducts a monthly webinar series in partnership with National Network of ADA Centers.

Sesker also is active in the Board's development of new accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment. She joined the Board in 1993 as a compliance specialist and investigated complaints under the Architectural Barriers Act which requires access to federally funded facilities. She succeeds Peggy Greenwell who retired in December after serving 18 years as the Board's Training Coordinator.

 


Board Mourns Passing of Former Chair Tricia Mason

Tricia Mason With great sadness, the Access Board announces the death of former Board member and chair Tricia Mason of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after a brief illness. Appointed to the Board in April 2005 by President George W. Bush, Mason was elected its chair two years later. She was active in the Board’s development of accessibility guidelines and represented the agency on the Election Assistance Commission’s Board of Advisors and Technical Guidelines Development Committee. Her term as a Board member ended in September 2008.

“During her time on the Board and throughout her entire career, Tricia dedicated herself to promoting accessibility for all,” stated David M. Capozzi, the Access Board’s Executive Director. “Her mastery of disability policy and accessible design combined with her strong commitment to inclusiveness made her an exceptional advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.”

Mason served for almost seven years as Deputy Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services where she oversaw provision of community-based developmental disability services throughout the state. More recently, she worked as a consultant to agencies on serving individuals with developmental disabilities and as a product management director at Anthem, Inc.

She also was a former president of the Little People of America, an advocacy organization for individuals of short stature and their families. She represented the organization on the American National Standards Institute A117 Committee which maintains accessibility standards for buildings and facilities that are referenced by the International Building Code.

Mason grew up in in Cheyenne, Wyoming where early in her career she chaired the Mayor's Council for People with Disabilities. She also served as a community programs specialist for the Wyoming Governor's Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities and later moved to Washington, D.C. to work at Easter Seals and TASH, a disability rights organization for people with significant disabilities and support needs.




 

FTA Offers ADA Webinar Series

DOT logo

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is conducting a series of free webinars on requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that apply to transportation systems.  The bi-weekly series serves as a companion to the ADA Circular that FTA released last fall to explain and clarify requirements in its ADA regulations.  Upcoming sessions will cover requirements for demand responsive service (March 2), transportation facilities (March 16) and transportation vehicles (March 30).  Prior webinars, which are recorded and archived, addressed general requirements, paratransit, and fixed route service. 

Visit FTA’s website for further information and registration instructions.  Other training materials on the ADA and transit systems are available on the site.  

 

 


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.