Access Board Releases Voluntary Guidelines for Onboard Wheelchairs for Public Comment

onboard wheelchairThe Access Board has released for public comment advisory guidelines for wheelchairs used on commercial passenger aircraft during flight. These onboard wheelchairs are provided by air carriers as a means of facilitating the transfer of passengers with disabilities to aircraft lavatories since personal wheelchairs cannot be used in the cabin. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has expressed its intention to supplement its regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to include performance standards for onboard wheelchairs on covered aircraft. The Board is developing these non-binding guidelines as technical assistance to air carriers and manufacturers of onboard wheelchairs by providing an example of how to meet DOT’s planned performance standards.

As indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register, the guidelines specify dimensions, features, and capabilities for onboard wheelchairs that will allow passengers with disabilities to be more safely and comfortably transported aboard airplanes in flight. In addition, the guidelines include criteria to allow the onboard wheelchair to fully enter the lavatory in a backward orientation and be positioned over a closed toilet, and for the lavatory door to be closed. This feature would afford those passengers who cannot independently transfer to the toilet to have privacy in performing non-toileting tasks related to personal hygiene or medical needs. The Board has posed a number of questions to the public about specific provisions in the guidelines but welcomes input on all portions of the document.

As part of a negotiated rulemaking to improve access for air travelers with disabilities, DOT has put forth plans to supplement its ACAA regulations and require onboard wheelchairs with enhanced functionality on aircraft with more than 125 passenger seats.

Related information, including instructions for submitting comments, is posted at (Docket ATBCB-2019-0002). Comments are due October 21, 2019. In addition, on September 12, 2019, the Board will hold a public hearing that will provide an opportunity to submit comments either in person or by phone. Further details will be posted on the Board’s website. Those who wish to provide testimony at the hearing should contact Rose Marie Bunales at (202) 272-0006 (voice) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by September 5, 2019.

For further details on the guidelines or the public hearing, contact Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 (voice) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Mario Damiani at (202) 272-0050 (voice) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Public Hearing on Advisory Guidelines for Aircraft Onboard Wheelchairs
September 12, 2019, 9:30 - 4:00 (ET)
Call-In Option: (888) 396-7314 or International: 1 (773) 756-0935, Participant Code: 1989453
Communication access real-time translation (CART): web streaming link
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.


ABA Complaint and Grassroots Campaign Result in Access to Popular Texas Dam

Service road atop Canyon Dam with wheelstops along both sidesCanyon Lake is a popular recreation destination in the Hill Country of Texas located between San Antonio and Austin. Created by construction of the Canyon Dam on the Guadalupe River, the lake and surrounding parkland is a favorite site for swimming, boating, fishing, as well as camping and hiking. A prized feature is a service road atop the dam which, although used for dam maintenance, is also enjoyed by many in the area as a scenic walkway because of the lakeside vistas it offers.

In 2017, the Access Board received a complaint about the accessibility of the Canyon Dam’s service road. The complaint was filed under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) which requires access to facilities funded by the federal government. The Board is responsible for enforcing the ABA through the investigation of complaints. The complaint alleged that security fencing at the dam made the road inaccessible because pedestrian gates lacked adequate clearance for wheelchair access. In response, the Board opened an investigation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the dam and park areas around the lake. The Board found that the ABA applied to the site and that the pedestrian gates did not meet the applicable accessibility standard.

The Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged that the pedestrian gates were too narrow for many wheeled mobility devices. They were designed to prevent passage of motorized devices as a security precaution following 9/11. The Corps argued that the service road was not intended as a recreational trail and that public access was permitted as a courtesy to the community. It closed the road to the public and stated that the narrow gates also were intended to prevent wheelchair traffic on the road which lacked barriers or edge protection. The closure sparked a strong outcry from local residents who launched the Dam Community Alliance as a grassroots campaign to reopen the road to the public. Led by Comal County Commissioner Jen Crownover and composed largely of private citizens, the Alliance lobbied the Corps to reverse its decision.

  New pedestrian gate is fully accessible with a swing door that allows wheelchair access but prevents passage of motorized vehicles
  The new pedestrian gate designed and built by Canyon Lake High School’s Agricultural Mechanics Team is accessible and provides the required level of security.

The Corps eventually agreed to reopen the service road if the community sponsored safety improvements for pedestrians. In response, local supporters, the Water-Oriented Recreation District of Comal County, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority donated funds to purchase over 2,000 wheel stops that the Corps installed as edge protection along the road. In addition, the Canyon Lake High School Agricultural Mechanics Team volunteered its time and talents to design, build, and install a new pedestrian entry gate that is accessible while maintaining the required level of security. Other organizations also aided this effort, including the Comal Trails Alliance and three local Chambers of Commerce.

Upon completion of the accessibility and safety improvements, the Corps has re-opened the road to the public. The Corps, the Dam Community Alliance, and the local Chambers of Commerce held a celebration of the re-opening on August 27.

“This project is a great example to other communities of how concerned citizens, local organizations, schools, and government agencies can work together constructively to achieve positive results that can be enjoyed by everyone,” Commissioner Crownover stated. “Everyone rose to the occasion and it was wonderful to welcome everyone back.” The case also illustrates the importance of ensuring that local recreational sites are equally accessible to everyone.

The ABA, the first federal law to address accessibility, applies to facilities designed, built, or altered with federal money or leased by federal agencies. Visit the Board’s Enforcement page for further information on the law and how to file a complaint.


Board Webinars to Cover Website Accessibility


Access to websites is essential in today's digital environment for obtaining information, downloading data, sharing media, obtaining goods and services, and making other transactions. Many websites, however, remain off-limits to people with disabilities, particularly those with sensory impairments, because they are not structured and coded properly for accessibility. The Board, which maintains accessibility standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, is conducting free webinars in September on how to evaluate websites for accessibility.

An introductory webinar on September 5 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) will cover online barriers to accessibility and explain how to check that web content is accessible to all visitors using the Board's Section 508 Standards. Presenters will review key components of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines issued by the World Wide Web Consortium, which are incorporated by reference in the Section 508 standards. They will also discuss common problems and easy solutions and share practical tips for improving website accessibility. Attendees can pose questions in advance or during the live webinar. This session is intended for both a general audience as well as website designers and content managers who are experienced, but new to accessibility.

For more information or to register for this session, visit This 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.

A more advanced session will take place September 24 from 1:00 – 2:30 (ET) as part of the Board's Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series. This session is intended for federal employees involved in procuring web services and products who may not have a technical background but who are responsible for compliance with Section 508. It will follow the "user story" of a non-technical federal employee who has been recently assigned 508 oversight responsibilities for a web services contract. Presenters will review requirements for web content in the 508 Standards and address technical requirements for procurement contracts, how to verify that procured services and deliverables are fully compliant, and available resources and tools for evaluating website accessibility and fixing access issues.

Visit for further details or to register. 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.


New Accessibility Specialists Join Board Staff

The Board has hired four new Accessibility Specialists to serve in its Office of Technical and Information Services: Randall Duchesneau III, Sarah Presley, Joshua Schorr, and Bobby Stinnette. They will be responsible for providing technical assistance and training on accessibility, including the ADA and ABA Standards and the Board’s standards for medical diagnostic equipment.

Duchesneau was a founding member of the United Spinal Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter, an organization he led for four years. Before that, he served as Director of the National Leadership Program at RespectAbility, a non-profit organization that advances opportunities for people with disabilities. He has worked at General Electric and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has provided real estate investment and transactional advisory services. He holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Yale University.

Presley was employed as a Reasonable Accommodations Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She previously worked at the DC Department on Disability Services as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist and at the U.S. Census Bureau as a Survey Statistician. She served in the Peace Corps in Morocco as an English instructor at a school for students who are blind. She earned a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from George Washington University.

Schorr began working at the Board in 2010 as an animator and created the Board’s popular animation series on the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. The series includes animations on wheelchair maneuvering, doors, toilet and bathing facilities, parking, sales and service counters, signs, and protruding objects. He also helped illustrate and lay out technical bulletins on the standards and established the Board’s YouTube channel.

Stinnette joined the Board from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs where he served in the Detroit area as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and assisted veterans in finding employment and provided disability counseling services. Prior to that, he was a counselor at Northern Virginia Community College and at the See Forever Foundation and an Upward Bound Counselor at the University of Maryland. He holds a master’s degree in Counseling/ College Student Development from Eastern Michigan University.


Board to Hold Next Meeting on September 11

Board meeting webcastThe Access Board’s next meeting will take place September 11 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 agenda includes reports from standing and ad hoc committees and from the Executive Director. Further details on the agenda are provided in a published notice.

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 by September 4 to Rose Marie Bunales at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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
September 11, 2019, 1:30 – 3:00 (ET)
Webcast link:
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.


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.