Board Working Group Issues Report on Prescription Drug Container Labelspill bottle with access symbol on label

New guidance is now available from the Board on how to make prescription drug container labels accessible to people with vision impairments or who are elderly. The important information labeling prescription medications, including dosage and other instructions, side effects, and expiration dates, is often inaccessible to those unable to read print or small type.

Developed by a stakeholder working group formed by the Board, the advisory guidance covers different solutions for making label information accessible, including braille, large print, and auditory technologies such as "talking bottles" and radio frequency identification tags. Some access alternatives can be delivered digitally through smart phones and personal computers. In preparing its recommendations, the Working Group on Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels assessed these alternatives along with technical, financial, and logistical considerations. This 18-member panel, which was comprised of representatives from advocacy organizations and industry, also prepared best practices to follow in providing access, including guidance specific to each access format.

“Many people who cannot read print or fine type, whether it’s due to a disability or is age-related, cannot safely and independently take their own medications,” notes Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA. “The information issued by the Board’s working group provides much-needed guidance to pharmacists on steps they can take voluntarily to ensure that label information is independently and reliably accessible to all of their customers.”

The released recommendations are contained in a report, “Best Practices for Making Prescription Drug Container Label Information Accessible to Persons Who are Blind or Visually-Impaired or Who are Elderly,” which is available on the Board’s website. This guidance is advisory only and not mandatory. Pharmacies are not obligated to follow the best practice recommendations. The recommendations were developed under the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act," which President Obama signed into law last July. The law called upon the Board to form a working group to develop the recommendations within one year.

The National Council on Disability will undertake an awareness campaign in cooperation with the working group to inform the public of the best practices, as directed by the Act. In addition, the Comptroller General will initiate a review in 18 months to assess the extent to which pharmacies are following the best practices and to what degree barriers to prescription drug container labels remain.

For further information, visit the Board’s website or contact Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services, at (202) 272-0020, (202) 272-0076 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Board Launches Redesigned Website

new websiteThe Board has redesigned its website, a leading resource on accessible design. The new site improves navigation so that the various resources available from the Board are easier to locate and search through. These include copies of all Board guidelines and standards and related information, such as companion guides and research reports.

Site content is more clearly organized by subject matter across the different areas of accessibility addressed by the Board's work. The site also features enhanced search options and page layouts that improve usability and make related information easier to access. It also includes a new online form for submitting access complaints under the Architectural Barriers Act which applies to federally funded facilities.

Check out the new site at and be sure to update any bookmarks to internal pages. Comments or questions about the site should be directed to Bruce Bailey, the Board’s webmaster, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Board Holds Hearing on Passenger Vessel Guidelines, Extends Comment Deadline

PVAG hearingThe Board held a public hearing on July 10 on guidelines it recently proposed for passenger vessels under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Board members heard testimony from trade groups, including the Passenger Vessel Association and the Cruise Lines International Association, advocacy groups such as Easter Seals, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Hearing Access Program, and vessel operators, including the Golden Gate Ferry System. 

The guidelines, as proposed, would apply to newly built or altered cruise ships and other vessels that carry over 150 passengers or at least 50 overnight passengers. They also cover ferries designed to carry 100 or more passengers and tenders allowed to carry 60 or more passengers.  Speakers provided mixed feedback on this scope of coverage.  Some commenters recommended that the threshold for coverage of ferries be raised to the level of cruise ships, while others advised that the scope of rule should be broadened to cover smaller vessels. 

In developing its proposal, the Board prepared case studies on various types of vessels to assess the design impacts of accessibility requirements.  Industry representatives recommended that the Board conduct additional studies on new types of U.S. flag vessels before finalizing the guidelines.  Speakers also raised concerns about the required number of accessible guest rooms, access for persons with hearing loss, including requirements for assistive listening systems, coverage of telescoping gangplanks of the type used in some ferry systems, access at water-tight doors, evacuation access, theater seating, pool lifts, and other elements.  In addition, speakers suggested that terms used in the guidelines be further explained or defined for the benefit of those not in the industry and that the Board issue supplementary guidance material on the final rule to facilitate compliance. 

Representatives from industry urged the Board to extend the 90-day comment period due to the length of the rule and the number of questions the Board has posed in its proposal.  In response to these concerns, the Board recently extended the deadline for comments an additional 120 days, as indicated in a published notice.  Comments are now due by January 24, 2014 instead of September 23, 2013.

A transcript of the hearing has been posted to the rulemaking docket. 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).


MDE Advisory Committee Briefs Board on Upcoming Report

medical exam tableAt a meeting of the Board on July 10, the Board’s Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE) Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee provided an advance overview of recommendations it has prepared on access to medical diagnostic equipment.  The committee’s report, which is due to be submitted to the Board in September, will address how MDE accessibility standards proposed by the Board should be finalized. These standards, which the Board made available for public comment last year, address access to examination tables and chairs, weight scales, x-ray machines, mammography equipment, and other types of diagnostic equipment. Organized by the Board last July, the committee met regularly to examine issues raised in the comments and to adopt consensus recommendations for the Board’s use in finalizing the standards.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Rex Pace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0023 (v), or (202) 272-0052 (TTY).


Upcoming Board Webinar: Open Question and Answer Session

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place September 4 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, the Section 508 Standards, new standards being developed for medical diagnostic equipment, public rights-of-way accessibility, and other topics related to the Board’s work.  Participants can submit questions in advance or during the webinar.  For more information, including registration instructions, visit

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). 


DOJ and DOT Issue Guidance on Street Resurfacing Projects

DOJ and DOT agency sealsUnder the ADA, new or altered streets and roadways must incorporate accessibility, including curb ramps, where pedestrian circulation routes are provided.  Some types of street resurfacing projects are considered an alteration and require the installation of curb ramps where pedestrian walkways intersect resurfaced streets.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued joint guidance to further clarify when curb ramps are required as part of roadway resurfacing projects in response to inquiries on the topic from state and local jurisdictions. 

According to this guidance, resurfacing that extends from one intersection to another and includes overlays of additional material to the road surface is considered an alteration requiring provision of curb ramps.  Examples include additions of a new layer of asphalt, reconstruction, concrete pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction, open-graded surface course, micro-surfacing and thin lift overlays, cape seals, and in-place asphalt recycling.  However, treatments that serve solely to seal and protect the road surface, improve friction, and control splash and spray are considered to be maintenance and do not trigger the requirement for curb ramps.  The released guidance also identifies other types of work that is considered maintenance.  This guidance is available on DOJ’s website along with a companion glossary


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.