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Access Board to Celebrate 50 Years of the Architectural Barriers Act

ABA 50th 1968 - 2018This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), the first federal law to address accessibility for people with disabilities. Passed unanimously by Congress in 1968, the law requires facilities funded by the federal government to be accessible. The Access Board was created to enforce the ABA, which it continues to do to this day. The Board also issues and maintains accessibility guidelines for facilities covered by the law.

The public is invited to join the Access Board for a celebration of the ABA on September 7 from 1:30 – 3:30 (ET) at the Board’s conference space. The event will feature Judith Heumann, Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation, and other guest speakers, including representatives from federal agencies that issue accessibility standards under the ABA. The Board will also unveil an exhibit on the ABA and the first accessibility standards in the U.S. The event will be streamed live online. A complimentary reception will immediately follow.

Registration is not required. Direct any questions to Dave Yanchulis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).

A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Architectural Barriers Act
September 7, 1:30 – 3:30 (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.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars

ab-laptopIn honor of the 50th anniversary of the ABA, the Board will conduct a webinar on the law and the accessibility standards that are used to enforce it on September 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET). Enacted in 1968, the ABA is the first law passed by Congress to address accessibility and applies to facilities funded by the federal government. The Access Board was created to enforce the ABA and will use this webinar to explain how it ensures compliance through the investigation of complaints. It will also review the most common barriers raised in complaints. The Board will be joined by a representative from the General Services Administration, which issues standards under the ABA, who will review the ABA standards and their application to federal facilities.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar
The Board also offers a free webinar series on standards issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series will take place September 25 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will address how to integrate accessibility into the IT lifecycle. It will cover strategies and best practices for incorporating access into the engineering and deployment of large IT systems and explain the Agile Development process, and how agencies can deploy it while addressing accessibility needs.

For more details or to register for this session, visit www.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/schedule. The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the Board.

 


Dave Yanchulis named Director of Technical and Information Services

Dave YanchulisDave Yanchulis has been named the new Director of the Office of Technical and Information Services. He succeeds Marsha Mazz who retired in June after 8 years as Director. The Office of Technical and Information Services is responsible for the development of ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for buildings, facilities, and transportation vehicles, Standards and Guidelines for Accessible Information and Communication Technology, and Standards for Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment. The office oversees the Board’s research, training, and technical assistance programs, and provides on-line guidance as well as toll-free and e-mail responses to questions about the Board’s guidelines and standards.

Yanchulis has been with the Board since January 1988 and was previously a Senior Accessibility Specialist and Coordinator of Public Affairs. Dave has served as project manager for the development of web-based technical guidance on the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards and authored the Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines for State and Local Government Facilities and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Building Elements Designed for Children’s Use.

“Dave brings a vast amount of technical knowledge, vision, organizational skills, and creativity to the job,” said David Capozzi, Executive Director.

 


National Council on Disability Urges DOJ Action on Medical Equipment

National Council on Disability logoIn a letter to Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions, the National Council on Disability (NCD) urged the Justice Department to resume regulatory action under the ADA to address access to medical diagnostic equipment, such as examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological and other diagnostic equipment. NCD argues that this action is necessary to combat persistent barriers to health care for people with disabilities. According to NCD, “Discrimination against persons with disabilities in the access and delivery of healthcare services persists, evidenced, in part, by the significant and alarming health disparities that remain between persons with disabilities … and those without.”

In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a notice indicating its interest in rulemaking under the ADA to address access to equipment and furniture. The notice called attention to various types of medical diagnostic equipment. It also noted that the Board was developing new standards for such equipment and that DOJ would wait until these standards were completed before issuing a final rule on medical equipment. The Board published its final standards for medical diagnostic equipment early last year. As issued by the Board, these standards are not mandatory on health care providers and equipment manufacturers. Only DOJ has the authority to implement them and to make them mandatory under the ADA.

Last December, DOJ rescinded its notice on equipment and furniture because it was “reevaluating whether regulation of the accessibility of non-fixed equipment and furniture is necessary and appropriate.” It also withdrew three other advance notices on ADA rulemaking. (One of these rules concerned website accessibility, and in June a bi-partisan group of over 100 House members wrote a letter to the Attorney General calling attention to the need for DOJ to issue clear rules and guidance on required website accessibility under the ADA).

NCD urged DOJ to resume rulemaking to ensure access to medical equipment and cited extensive data on the need for such rules. For further information, visit NCD’s website. NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

 


International Parking Institute Organizes Accessible Parking Coalition

Accessible Parking Coalition logoThe International Parking Institute (IPI) has organized a collaborative effort to promote access to parking and to eliminate placard abuse and fraud. The Accessible Parking Coalition is collecting resources and data, promoting outreach and awareness campaigns, and consulting stakeholders to develop and share strategies and best practices for preventing misuse of accessible spaces. The effort recognizes that solving the issue will involve many different players, including planners, lawmakers, medical professionals, public agencies, citizen groups, and parking professionals.

Partners joining IPI in this effort include the Access Board, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, and the United Spinal Association.

“Combatting the problem of accessible parking and placard abuse requires an organized and informed team effort, and the Board applauds IPI for providing leadership in the search for solutions and organizing the Coalition,” states Access Board Executive Director David Capozzi.

The Coalition is collecting resources for parking professionals, parking enforcers, placard and license issuers, planners and developers, people with disabilities and advocacy groups, and the general public. It also shares and publicizes helpful information, such as a new report “Persons with Disabilities Placards and License Plates: Best Practices in Deterring and Detecting Fraud and Misuse,” from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

The Coalition welcomes other organizations to participate in this effort and to sign up for updates on its work. Interested parties can advance its work by sharing resources and ideas and involving local policy-makers and others in their area. For further information, visit the Coalition’s website.

 


Inclusive Mobility Research Lab Creating Data-Driven Tools for Inclusive Design

Graph plotting measures of the width and length of people using wheeled mobility aidsThe Inclusive Mobility Research Lab at the University of Michigan’s Center for Ergonomics is developing a website that will provide design aids based on results from a major study on people who use wheeled mobility aids. The site will feature a visual interface with design tools to assist architects and engineers in consulting data from the Anthropometry of Wheeled Mobility Project which collected detailed measures of 500 people using different types of wheeled mobility aids (the project was largely funded by the Access Board). The site also will serve as an evidence-based resource to support development or review of accessibility standards and specifications.

Clive R. D'Souza, Ph. D., Director of the Inclusive Mobility Research Lab, is heading this work to develop the interface. He notes that the goal of the new site is to provide interactive, data-driven design tools based on the Anthropometry of Wheeled Mobility study, including findings on the sizes, reach capabilities, and space needs of people who use wheeled mobility aids. D’Souza was involved in the data collection project at the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) which used a 3-D digitizing device and other technologies to capture static and functional measures from a diverse sample using different types of mobility aids, including motorized devices such as power chairs and scooters. The results were entered into a database and can be analyzed using multiple interactive displays. The various measures collected inform a host of fundamental specifications, including clear floor space, turning and maneuvering room, and reach ranges.

D'Souza and his team are conducting user testing of the interface before making it live. Access Board staff participated in testing in July. For further information, visit the Inclusive Mobility Research Lab’s website or contact Clive D’Souza at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (734) 763-0542.

Development of the web-based design tools was supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research through the IDeA Center’s RERC on Universal Design (Grant #90RE5022-01-00).

 


 New Report Examines Accessibility Requirements in Australia and Other Countries

Report "Ensuring the best possible access for people with disability to existing buildings that are being upgraded or extended"A new report is out that compares accessibility mandates in Australia with those in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The report examines Australia’s development of accessibility standards, which were incorporated into its National Construction Code, and how accessibility requirements are developed, implemented, and enforced in the other four countries. Michael Small, a former government official in Australia, authored the report based on analysis he conducted under a fellowship sponsored by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The study highlights differences in the relationship between civil rights laws and building regulations in the countries. Small credits Australia with integrating its accessibility standards into the nation’s building codes to a higher degree than is found in the other nations. As a result, conforming to building codes in Australia effectively assures compliance with its Disability Discrimination Act. However, while this approach has benefits, it does have costs. Namely, people with disabilities who still encounter an access issue in a fully compliant building have little recourse.

In contrast, Small found that while each of the other countries enforces access requirements through building and occupancy permit procedures, they lack inspectors or certifiers to enforce discrimination laws. Further compliance with their building codes does not protect building owners or operators from discrimination complaints. In addition, Australia has a national access consultant accreditation body that is more developed and active than counterparts in any of the other countries.

The report also identifies areas where Australia appears to lag behind the other nations studied. It finds that Australia’s standards are not as effective in covering alterations and additions to existing facilities as those implemented in the U.S. and some of the other countries. It also needs to do more to provide guidance and resources to building professionals and people with disabilities, improve compliance and monitoring methods, and ensure that access is addressed early in the design process.

To assist with Small’s research in the U.S., the Access Board organized a day-long workshop with him last November that examined how accessibility is addressed in Australia and the U.S. It featured briefings and discussion on regulating and enforcing accessibility in both nations and included representatives from federal agencies, the codes community, design professionals, and disability groups in the U.S.

The report, “Ensuring the best possible access for people with disability to existing buildings that are being upgraded or extended,” and other information is available on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust website.

 


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.