Board Hosts International Forum on Accessibility
globeIn June, the Access Board hosted a meeting of disability leaders from across the globe who were interested in learning about the Board’s work and accessibility policy in the U.S. Organized by the International Disability Alliance, an organization that promotes implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and G3ict, Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, the event provided an opportunity for the Board to share information on its experiences addressing accessibility through the establishment of standards under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and other laws.

“Over the years, accessibility for people with disabilities has truly gone global,” noted David M. Capozzi, the Access Board’s Executive Director. “While many nations share the same goal of ensuring equality for all their citizens, each has its own unique set of challenges and success stories, so it is very beneficial when representatives from other nations come together to share their experience and what they’ve learned.”

Participant included representatives from Canada, France, Spain, Denmark, Serbia, Peru, Argentina, Israel, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Fiji. Several international organizations also attended the event.

  Ukrainian delegation with Board staff
  Members of the Ukrainian delegation with the Access Board’s Marsha Mazz (first row, left) and David M. Capozzi (first row, second from left)

 

The following week, the Board attended the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD in New York. Capozzi addressed a session organized by the European Union and the European Disability Forum on approaches governments have taken to achieve accessibility under the CRPD and provided an update on the Board’s refresh of accessibility standards for information and communication technology (ICT). In addition, at this year’s M-Enabling Global Summit in the DC area, the Board participated in a conference organized by G3ict. The event included a track dedicated to government acquisition and deployment of accessible ICT that featured speakers and panelists from the Board and other government agencies, industry, and advocacy groups who addressed public procurement and compliance trends.

Besides participating in international conferences, the Board regularly meets with delegations from other countries and international organizations to share information. Recently, the agency hosted a delegation from Ukraine interested in learning how accessibility has been addressed by laws, regulations, and standards in the U.S. The delegation included representatives from the Ukrainian President Foundation, which promotes accessibility and inclusiveness, the National Assembly of Disabled of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, advocacy groups, the state-owned civil-engineering authority, regional education and transportation departments, and school officials.

 


Board Issues Next Installment of the Online Guide to the ADA and ABA StandardsChapter 5 technical bulletins of the online guide to the ADA & ABA Standards and parking animation shown in player window
The Board has released the next installment of its online guide to accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The new material, which covers Chapter 5 of the standards, features an animation and technical bulletins on accessible parking and passenger loading zones. It also includes a technical bulletin on stairways. This guidance clarifies and illustrates provisions in the standards, answers frequently asked questions, and offers best practice recommendations.

Sections of the guide released earlier cover the first four chapters of the standards, including application and scoping, building blocks, and accessible routes. They also include animations on wheelchair maneuvering, entrances and doors, toilet and bathing facilities, and protruding objects.

The Guide to the ADA Standards covers design requirements for places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities subject to the ADA. The Guide to the ABA Standards addresses similar standards that apply under the ABA to facilities that are designed, constructed, altered, or leased with federal funds.

Future installments to the guides will be released once they become available. Users can sign-up to receive email updates on the release of new technical guides in the series.

 


Next Access Board Meeting to be Held July 13
The Access Board will hold its next meeting on July 13 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 meeting agenda includes updates on Board rulemaking and other activities. Further information is posted on the Board's website.

Meeting of the U.S. Access Board
July 13, 1:30 – 3:00
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.

 


Board Holds Town Hall Meeting in Seattle
Seattle town hall meetingThe Board held a town hall meeting in Seattle on May 10 at the University of Washington that featured an open public forum and panel discussions on implementation of accessibility requirements at the state and local level and public transportation.

The panel discussion on implementation of accessibility requirements included representatives from the Washington State Building Code Council, the Washington Association of Building Officials, and the Washington State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment. Panelists discussed development and implementation of the Washington State accessibility code which in 1995 became the first state code to be certified under the ADA. Washington first required access to state facilities in 1967 and broadened this requirement to private sector facilities in 1975. Speakers also addressed the critical input advocates have provided on the state’s accessibility code, the state’s adoption of the International Building Code (IBC), and efforts to improve accessibility through amendments and revision cycles for the IBC and the referenced accessibility standards (ANSI A117.1). Comments or questions were raised about minimum space requirements, van parking spaces, emergency communication devices in elevators and areas of refuge, clustered mailboxes in residential neighborhoods, and other topics.

This was followed by a panel discussion on public transportation, including rail cars and public streets and sidewalks. Panelists included a former ADA Coordinator for Sound Transit, the area’s regional transit authority, a representative from a manufacturer of rail cars, and a Bellevue city official overseeing a sidewalk compliance program. Speakers addressed the accessibility of various types of rail cars, including issues coordinating vehicles with platforms for level boarding, multi-level rail cars, and vehicle restrooms. The agenda also included a presentation on an initiative undertaken by the City of Bellevue to systematically evaluate the accessibility of its 330 miles of sidewalks, including features such as grade, cross slope, and vertical displacement, through an automated survey and recording tool. Commenters called attention to the need for hearing loops on rail cars, the usability of fare card readers in transit systems, and the Board’s upcoming guidelines for public rights-of-ways.

During the town hall forum that followed the panel discussions, members of the audience raised issues concerning stadium accessibility, on-street parking, curb ramps, the lack of hearing loop systems in facilities and transit vehicles, updating standards for federally-funded housing, and other subjects.

 


Sue Swenson Succeeds Michael Yudin as Board ChairPhoto of Sue Swenson
Sue Swenson, who represents the Department of Education on the Access Board as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), has succeeded Michael Yudin as Board Chair. Yudin, who became Chair in March, left his post at the Department of Education in late April.

As Acting Assistant Secretary for OSERS, Swenson advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities. She continues to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSERS, a position she has held for six years. Before joining OSERS, Swenson served in the Clinton administration as the Commissioner for Developmental Disabilities in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as Executive Director of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation and as CEO of The Arc of the United States.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars
laptop with Access Board logoThe next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place July 7 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and cover accessible office spaces and interior design. Presenters will review how to apply and satisfy requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards in the design of office space. A representative from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) will join Board staff in conducting the webinar and discuss common office design issues, including product selection, installation details, and furniture placement and offer best practice design tips.

The following webinar on August 4 will provide an advanced session on accessible parking and passenger loading zones.

For more information or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) 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.

 


NCD Issues Brochure on Prescription Drug LabelsNCD brochure "Best Practices for Accessible Prescription Drug Labeling"
The National Council on Disability (NCD) has issued a brochure on best practices for making prescription drug container labels accessible to people with vision impairments or who are elderly. The new brochure, which is based on recommendations from a stakeholder panel organized by the Access Board, outlines voluntary methods that pharmacists can use to provide access to drug label information for their customers. These include braille and large print, as well as newer technologies such as digital voice or text-to-speech recorders, radio frequency identification tags, and smart devices and computers. The brochure also provides best practices to follow with these formats, such as maintaining patient privacy in preparing labels and selecting containers that best support the type of accessible label provided. This guidance is advisory only and is not mandatory.

Implementing these practices will provide those unable to read print or small type access to the important information contained on labels for prescription medications, including dosage and other instructions, side effects, and expiration dates. NCD, which advises the President, Congress, and federal agencies on policies, programs, and practices affecting people with disabilities, is making this information available to pharmacies and industry associations for dissemination to affiliates and members. Members of the public are also welcome to download the brochure and share it with their local pharmacy.

The guidance is based on recommendations developed by a stakeholder working group named by the Access Board. The Working Group on Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels, which included representatives from advocacy organizations and industry, assessed various methods for making drug labels accessible and issued its findings in a report to the Board in July 2013. Since release of the report, various national pharmacy chains have adopted methods for providing drug label information in accessible formats. This work was authorized by the “Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012" which directed the Board to develop the best practice recommendations through a working group and tasked NCD with undertaking an awareness campaign to inform pharmacies and the public of this voluntary guidance. The law also calls upon the Comptroller General to conduct a review to assess the extent to which pharmacies are implementing the best practices and to determine whether barriers to prescription drug labels remain.

Further information is available on NCD’s website and the Board’s website.

 


FCC Proposes Rule Requiring Real-Time Text Capability
FCC logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a proposed rule on May 25 that would require wireless phones and other communications devices to support real-time text services so that people with disabilities have equal access to wireless phone communicaton. The proposal would recognize real-time text as a replacement technology for text telephones (or TTYs) on wireless phone networks and seeks information on applying this requirement to IP-based landline phone networks as well.

Real-time text functionality improves access for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments by allowing text messages to display immediately as they are typed instead of after a message is sent. This instant display provides the immediacy common to most forms of communication and is especially important during 911 and other emergency calls. The FCC has waived, upon request, its requirements for TTY support capabilities for wireless carriers that provide real-time text services on their wireless IP networks. The proposed rule would authorize the industry-wide substitution of real-time text for TTY technology to meet accessibility requirements on wireless networks while ensuring that real-time text interfaces effectively with TTYs. In addition, the proposed rule addresses interoperability measures to integrate real-time text services across communications systems, essential functionalities that must be supported, full support of 911 emergency communications, and compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is July 11, and reply comments are due July 25, 2016. For further information, visit the FCC’s website or contact Suzy Rosen Singleton at (202) 510-9446, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Robert Aldrich at (202) 418-0996, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


Justice Department Adds New Technology Section to its ADA Website
DOJ sealThe Department of Justice (DOJ) has added a new section on accessible technology to its ADA website. This information addresses how the ADA applies to websites, electronic book readers, online courses, point-of-sale devices, and other technologies. It includes technical guidance on accessible technology, as well as to material on DOJ’s enforcement efforts, regulation development, and other resources. For further informaiton, visit ada.gov or call DOJ at (800) 514-0301 (v), or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

 


3D Graphic Designer and Accountant Join Board Staff
The Access Board has recently filled new positions on staff for a 3D graphic designer/ animator and accountant. In other staff news, Accessibility Specialist David Baquis left the agency for another government post.

Under a term appointment as a 3D Graphic Designer, Joshua Schorr will be responsible for the in-house production of animations on accessibility. Schorr previously created animations for the agency’s popular series of tutorials on accessibility and requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards as a contract employee. The series currently includes animations on wheelchair maneuvering, entrances and doors, toilet and bathing facilities, protruding objects, and parking and passenger loading zones. Jinhao Zhen joined the Board as an Accountant in the Office of Administration. Jianhao previously was employed by the Internal Revenue Service in Seattle. Before that, he worked at an accounting agency in New York. He earned an MBA degree in Public Accounting from City University of New York.

In May, Baquis accepted a position as an Accessibility Officer at the Executive Office of the President. Baquis, a Board Accessibility Specialist for over 15 years, provided technical assistance and training on accessible ICT and was involved in the Board’s refresh of its Section 508 Standards and the Telecommunications Act Guidelines. He also led efforts to collect information on frontier accessibility issues and represented the Board on a variety of organizations, including the Election Assistance Commission, the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities.

 


In Memoriam: Tanya M. Johnston, MSA, Board Human Resources Specialist
With great sadness, the Board announces the passing of Tanya M. Johnston, MSA, a long-time and dedicated staff member who served as the agency’s Human Resources Specialist. Johnston joined the Board in 1991 as a clerk typist at the age of 18 and became a full-time member of the staff four years later. In 1996, she was promoted to management analyst. While working at the Board, she earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Human Resources Management. She became the agency’s Human Resources Specialist in 2003.

“Tanya had just marked 25 years of federal service and was dedicated to the agency and its mission,” stated Executive Director David M. Capozzi. “She will be greatly missed by all of her many friends and colleagues at the Board.”

 


 

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.