Access Board Continues to Provide Services to the Public
icons for technical assistance, webinars, and caseworkLike most of the federal workforce, Board staff have been teleworking since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the agency continues to provide its services to the public without interruption or delay. Board accessibility specialists are available for technical assistance on all Board accessibility guidelines and standards during regular business hours. In fact, the Board recently expanded the hours of its toll-free help line which now operates weekdays from 10:00 to 5:00 (ET). (Previously, the line was not open on Wednesdays). Those calling at other times can leave a message. Technical inquiries also can be submitted by email.

Further, the Board will soon be releasing the next installment of its online guide to the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. This material will feature comprehensive technical bulletins on restrooms, bathing facilities, and drinking fountains.

The Board continues to offer free webinars in partnership with the ADA National Network’s Great Lakes ADA Center. This includes a monthly series on facility access and the ADA and ABA Standards that allows attendees to earn continuing education credits (see below). There is also a bi-monthly series on the Section 508 Standards for access to information and communication technology (ICT). Board staff also participates as invited presenters in webinars and virtual meetings organized by other entities and agencies.

Social distancing and travel restrictions, on the other hand, have significantly curtailed the Board’s provision of training in person. Many conferences and in-person trainings have been cancelled or postponed. Some event organizers have transitioned to webinars, webcasts, and other means of remote conferencing and instruction. Board staff is available to provide training on its guidelines and standards as well as other aspects of accessible design remotely through webinars and other virtual platforms. To schedule a session, contact the Board’s Training Coordinator, Bill Botten, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 272-0014. Once travel restrictions are lifted and conferences and other events are scheduled, the Board will resume its provision of training in person.

In addition, the Board continues to investigate accessibility complaints under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The ABA ensures that facilities that received federal funding are accessible. Those concerned about access at a facility that may have been federally funded can file a complaint with the Board through our website.

Access Board Services

Technical Assistance
(800) 872-2253 or (800) 993-2822 (TTY), weekdays 10:00 – 5:00 (ET)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (for technical assistance on the 508 Standards)

Webinars and Training
Accessibility Online Webinar Series accessibilityonline.org/ao/
Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508
Contact: Bill Botten, Training Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0014

ABA Enforcement
access-board.gov/aba-enforcement (online complaint form)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
(202) 272-0050

 


Board Extends Comment Period for Update of Rail Vehicle Guidelines 
trainIn February, the Board initiated rulemaking through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update requirements in its ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles that apply to rail cars, including those used in rapid, light, commuter, and intercity rail systems. This notice was available for public comment for three months. The Board has extended the comment period another two months to allow additional time for interested parties to submit feedback, as indicated in a published notice.

The Board plans to update the ADA vehicles guidelines according to recommendations from an advisory panel it chartered, the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee. The advance notice seeks comment on the committee recommendations to enhance provisions that cover vehicle communications, boarding and alighting, on-board circulation, seating, and rooms and spaces. It also poses a number of questions on specific topics.

Comments are now due July 14, 2020 (instead of May 14). The advance notice, which includes instructions for submitting comments, is posted on regulations.gov (Docket ATBCB-2020-0002). For more information, contact Juliet Shoultz at (202) 272-0045 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for technical questions or Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for legal questions.

 


Update of Federal Acquisition Regulation Proposed 
Federal Acquisition RegulationThe Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has proposed an update to its regulations governing federal procurements to incorporate the Board's updated Section 508 Standards. These standards address the accessibility of information and communication technology in the federal sector. The FAR Council's proposed rule would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to ensure that the revised 508 Standards are appropriately considered in Federal ICT acquisitions.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations System, which is overseen by the FAR Council, codifies and publishes uniform policies and procedures for acquisition of supplies and services by all executive agencies. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is responsible for incorporating the 508 Standards and updates of the standards. The Council is comprised of representatives from the Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GAS), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which jointly issued the proposed notice. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management and Budget is also represented on the Council.

The proposed rule and instructions for submitting comments are posted on regulations.gov. Comments are due June 1, 2020. For further information, contact Camara Francis of GSA's Office of Government-wide Acquisition Policy at (202) 550-0935.

 


Panel Studying Wheelchair Securement Systems on Airplanes Convenes
jet image with International Symbol of AccessibilityAn expert panel that is assessing the feasibility of equipping passenger planes with wheelchair securement systems recently convened remotely to further its analysis. The Access Board, in partnership with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), organized this committee early this year to conduct on its behalf a congressionally mandated study on whether such securement systems are technically feasible. The inability to use one's wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with mobility disabilities.

The Committee on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems in Passenger Aircraft met by web conference in both open and closed sessions on April 20 and 21. The agenda included presentations and briefings from invited speakers, including experts and researchers on manual and motorized wheelchairs, wheelchair securement systems, aircraft interiors and seating, and airline operations. These sessions were webcast and attended by various stakeholders and other members of the public.

The committee is examining design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with locking or tiedown mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs used as seats. If these securement systems are found to be feasible, the committee will proceed to assess how they can be used to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs. The committee’s 12 members include experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crashworthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines. It will hold a closed session in late June to continue its work followed by a meeting on August 11 and 12 that will include some sessions open to the public.

Visit TRB’s website for further details or contact Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 334-2401.

 


Lance Robertson Named Chair of Access Board Chair
Lance Robertson and Greg FehribachThe Board elected Lance Robertson as its new Chair at its meeting in March. Robertson represents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Access Board. Board member Greg Fehribach was elected Vice Chair.

Robertson, who previously served a term as Board Chair in 2018, serves as Assistant Secretary for Aging at HHS and heads its Administration for Community Living. Before joining HHS in 2017, he was Director of Aging Services at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Prior to that, he spent 12 years at Oklahoma State University where he co-founded the Gerontology Institute and served as the executive director of the nation's largest regional gerontology association.

Fehribach is a public member on the Board from Indianapolis. He is principal of the Fehribach Group, a consulting firm specializing in accessibility, universal design, and compliance with the ADA that he founded in 1995. In addition, he is of counsel to the firm of Tuohy, Bailey, & Moore, LLP and has practiced law for the past 30 years. Fehribach was designated a Distinguished Fellow at Ball State University where he established The Disability Project.

Board officers serve for a term of one year. 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.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars
laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the Access Board's free monthly series will take place May 7 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review scoping and technical provisions for accessible routes in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards (Chapter 4). These requirements ensure access from entry onto a site to all facilities, spaces, and elements required to comply. Chapter 4 addresses walking surfaces, doors, doorways and gates, ramps, curb ramps, elevators, and platform lifts. Presenters will address common sources of confusion and frequently asked questions about these provisions.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for 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 its Section 508 Standards for ICT in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series on May 26 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) will cover the accessibility of electronic documents. The updated 508 Standards apply to many types of documents that federal agencies generate on a daily basis. This session will explain the different types of electronic content covered and review how to make various file formats accessible, including Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and PowerPoint files. The presenter will review best practices and resources developed by the Accessible Electronic Documents Community of Practice that are helpful to all types of federal employees who are responsible for creating, posting, and distributing electronic content.

Visit the webinar site for further information 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. Prior webinars can be accessed on the site.

 


Board Accessibility Specialist Paul Beatty to Retire
Paul Beatty, who served with the Board for over 30 years as an Accessibility Specialist and Compliance Specialist, will retire in June. He started his career at the agency in 1988 in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement where he investigated complaints under the ABA as a Compliance Specialist. He later transitioned to the Office of Technical and Information Services where he provided technical assistance and training on the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards and accessible design. He became a leading expert at the agency on applying the ABA Standards, including the earlier UFAS, to various types of federal sites and provided extensive training in this area. He also was active in agency rulemaking and led the development of accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels, the first of their kind.

 


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.