Access Board to Hold Town Hall Meeting in Minneapolis on May 9

Minneapolis skyline

The Access Board will hold a town hall meeting in Minneapolis on the afternoon of May 9 at the University of Minnesota. The event will provide an open forum where members of the public can pose questions to the Board or share comments or concerns related to accessibility. There also will be panel discussions with local speakers on outdoor recreation and Target’s accessibility program.

The event will take place from 1:30 to 4:00 at the University’s Recreation and Wellness Center. Registration is not required. An assistive listening system, computer assisted real-time transcription, and sign language interpreters will be available. Attendees are requested to refrain from using perfume, cologne, and other fragrances for the comfort of all participants.

For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272–0026 (v), or (202) 272–0027 (TTY).

U.S. Access Board Town Hall Meeting
May 9, 1:30 – 4:00
University of Minnesota
University Recreation and Wellness Center, Room 169 (Beacon Room)
123 Harvard Street, SE
Minneapolis, MN

Schedule of Events
• Opening Remarks and Board Briefing
• Panel Discussions
• Open Forum


Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility

International Symbol of Accessibility

The Access Board recently issued guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) to address questions that have arisen on the use of alternative symbols. Some cities and states have adopted a different symbol that was created to be more dynamic and suggestive of movement. The Board's guidance explains how use of a symbol other than the ISA impacts compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Standards issued under the ADA require that the ISA label certain accessible elements, spaces, and vehicles, including parking spaces, entrances, restrooms, and rail cars. Similar requirements are contained in standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for federally funded facilities. The ISA, which is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has served as a world-wide accessibility icon for almost 50 years.

"Consistency in the use of universal symbols is important, especially for persons with limited vision or cognitive disabilities," states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board's Office of Technical and Information Services. "In addition to the ADA and ABA Standards, many codes and regulations in the U.S. and abroad also require display of the ISA."

While the ADA Standards do not recognize specific substitutes for the ISA, they do generally allow alternatives to prescribed requirements that provide substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability under a provision known as "equivalent facilitation." However, in the event of a legal challenge, the entity pursuing an alternative has the burden of proof in demonstrating equivalent facilitation. Under the ABA Standards, use of a symbol other than the ISA requires issuance of a modification or waiver by the appropriate standard-setting agency.

"The Board understands the interest out there to revisit the ISA but strongly recommends that such efforts be directed to the ISO to ensure consensus in adoption and uniformity in implementation," says Mazz.

The ISA bulletin is posted on the Board's website along with other issued guidance on the ADA Standards and the ABA Standards. For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).


VA Adopts New Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seal

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will adopt new accessibility standards issued by the Access Board to ensure access to medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) at its health care facilities. Under an agreement governing aquistions, the VA will require that new equipment meet the MDE standards which were published in January. The VA’s health care nework, the largest integrated health care system in the U.S., includes 152 medical centers, nearly 800 community-based outpatient clinics, and over 125 nursing home care units.

Access to MDE has been problematic for people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The Board’s standards provide design criteria for examination tables and chairs, including those used for dental or optical exams, weight scales, radiological equipment, mammography equipment and other equipment used for diagnostic purposes by health professionals.

“The Board applauds the VA for its initiative and leadership in advancing access to health care for all veterans, including those with disabilities,” stated David M. Capozzi, the Board’s Executive Director.

The MDE standards, as issued by the Board, are not mandatory unless adopted by a federal agency. The VA’s use of these standards will help it meet responsibilities under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access to federally funded programs and services. Other entities, including health care providers and state and local governments, can voluntarily adopt and apply the standards as well.

For further information on the MDE standards, visit the Board's website or contact Earlene Sesker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0022 (v), or (202) 272-0091 (TTY). Questions about the new VA aquistion policy should be directed to Laurence Meyer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Deborah A. Ryan Elected Board Chair 

Photo of Deborah A. Ryan

On March 15, the Board unanimously elected Board Member Deborah A. Ryan of Boston as its new Chair. Ryan is head of Deborah A. Ryan & Associates, an accessibility consulting firm that she founded in 2002.

"I am truly honored by this opportunity to serve as the Board's Chair," Ryan stated after her election. "It's a privilege to lead an agency that plays such a vital role in ensuring accessibility, and I look forward to helping the Board advance its work and meet its goals in the months ahead."

Ryan's firm specializes in compliance with accessibility requirements issued under Massachusetts law and federal laws such as the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fair Housing Act. Prior to her work as a consultant, Ryan served for over 25 years at the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB), including 15 years as its executive director. The MAAB develops and enforces state requirements for accessible buildings and facilities.

The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President. Board officers serve for a term of one year.


Upcoming Board Webinarlaptop with Access Board seal

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place May 4 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover requirements in the ADA and ABA Standards for exercise equipment and other features and amenities of health clubs and fitness facilities. This session will review provisions for exercise equipment, toilet and bathing facilities, locker rooms, and other elements and spaces.

Visit for more information or to register for the webinar. 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 Webinar Series to Cover Updated Standards508 refresh symbol

The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series, which the Board conducts in partnership with the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council, will focus on the Board's recent update of its Section 508 Standards. These standards apply to information and communication technology in the federal sector.

Upcoming sessions, which are held every other month from 1:00 – 2:30 (ET), include:

• May 30: Original Section 508 Standards compared to the Revised Section 508 Standards
• July 25: Revised Section 508 Chapter 4 – Hardware (including Mobile)
• September 26: Revised Section 508 Chapter 5 – Software (including Mobile)
• November 28: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Resources

For more details or to register for any of these webinars, visit

Prior sessions in the series, including one that reviewed the rule updating the 508 standards (January 31) and another on the referenced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (March 28), are available in the webinar archives.


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.