Access Board Holds Town Hall Meeting in Minneapolis

audience at Access Board town hall meetingOn May 9, the Access Board held a town hall meeting in Minneapolis that featured panelists from the Target Corporation's accessibility program and local speakers on outdoor recreation. The event, which was held at the University of Minnesota, also included an open forum that invited comments or questions from the public. Board Chair Deborah Ryan and Executive Director David Capozzi opened the meeting with introductions and an overview of the Board and its work.

The first presenter was Barry Grieve who serves as Building Regulatory and Strategy Lead for the Target Corporation. He provided an overview of the work of the company’s Accessibility Team which was formed 11 years ago to promote accessibility and compliance. He outlined some of the procedures and practices that have been implemented, such as conducting accessibility reviews at the outset of remodeling projects and providing access to all store check-out aisles instead of to just a portion. In addition, Target has a Digital Accessibility Team that focuses on access to the company’s website and online services. He also described related activities, including Target’s membership on the ANSI A117 Committee which maintains voluntary consensus standards for accessibility referenced by the International Building Code.

Greg Lais, Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry, followed with a presentation on access to outdoor recreation. Wilderness Inquiry is a nonprofit organization that introduces youth, families, and people with disabilities to the natural world through outdoor trips and adventures. His presentation covered accessible features at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin and a nearby Wilderness Inquiry base camp, including accessible tent platforms, picnic tables, toilet facilities, and boardwalks. He promoted compliance with the accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas that the Access Board issued for federal lands in 2013 and called attention to the need for updated illustrated guides on achieving access to such sites. In addition, he recommended outreach to state student conservation corps, which help develop outdoor recreation sites, and the Corps Network on integrating accessibility into projects according to the guidelines for outdoor developed areas.

The next presenter was Elise Niedermeier who serves as the ADA Coordinator for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board which oversees almost 180 outdoor sites throughout the city that total over 6,000 acres. She presented examples of access improvements completed at specific sites, including a city park, a cultural and community center, a playground, and a wading pool. She also outlined a $23.6 million plan that is being developed to improve access to existing sites. Based on an accessibility audit that surveyed over 200 sites and facilities, the plan updates an earlier transition plan and would be conducted in three phases. The first phase would involve simple corrective actions, including those that can be accomplished as part of routine maintenance, while the second phase would focus on access to recreation sites that are newly covered in the 2010 ADA Standards, including playgrounds, golf facilities, sports courts and fields, and boating and fishing facilities. The third phase features more complex corrective actions that require long range planning. A report on the plan, which is currently being finalized, will be released for public comment this summer.

During the open forum that followed the presentations, the Board invited comment from the public. Members of the audience called attention to areas where accessibility needs to be further addressed, including websites, pedestrian signals, transition planning for public rights-of-ways, and outdoor developed areas. It was noted that consensus standards for classroom acoustics that were developed with support from the Board are now applied to new school construction in Minnesota. In addition, concerns were raised about the availability of information in braille in government offices and universities, access to paper currency for people with vision impairments, and accommodations in the workplace for employees who are deaf. Several advised that action is needed on accessibility for people with age-related disabilities, morbid obesity, and deaf-blindness.

Each year, the Board substitutes one of its bimonthly meetings in Washington, D.C. with a town hall meeting in a different city. Details on next year’s event will be released as they become available.

 


Next Access Board Meeting to be Held July 12

laptop with Board meeting on screenThe Access Board will hold its next meeting July 12 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.

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 to Rose 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
July 12, 1:30 – 3:00 (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
laptop with Access Board logo

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place July 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for courthouses. It will cover access to courtrooms, including jury boxes, witness stands, and judges’ benches, as well as other spaces and elements of courthouses, such as secured entrances and holding cells.

The following webinar in this series on August 3 will present findings from a study sponsored by the Board that assessed the impacts of rough and uneven surfaces on wheelchair travel.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for the webinars. 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. This year’s sessions focus on the updated Section 508 Standards published by the Board in January. The next webinar in this series is scheduled for July 25 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will review requirements for hardware, including mobile devices, in Chapter 4 of the revised 508 Standards. Presenters will cover provisions for speech-output for devices with display screens, access to two-way voice communication, privacy, closed captioning, audio description, operable parts and user controls.

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.

 


Board Accessibility Specialist Jim Pecht to Retire

Jim PechtJim Pecht, an Accessibility Specialist at the Access Board for over 25 years, will retire from government service at the end of June. Pecht joined the Board in the fall of 1991 not long after the Board issued the original ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). In his first months on the job, he helped handle the high volume of calls on the ADA and ADAAG that the Board received through its dedicated hotline. He continued to be a mainstay of the Board’s Technical Assistance program over the full course of his tenure, providing expert technical assistance on a regular basis and conducting webinars and training sessions on ADAAG and other Board guidelines and standards.

Pecht was active in the Board’s review and update of ADAAG and led the update of companion guidelines for federally funded facilities covered by the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). He was instrumental in coordinating these updates and harmonizing the ABA guidelines and ADAAG.

As the Board’s librarian, he updated and expanded the agency’s collection of technical resources, almost doubling its size. He overhauled and reorganized the library and oversaw development of a searchable database. In addition to these duties, Pecht served as the agency’s lead illustrator. He created figures for the Board’s guidelines and illustrated slideshows and technical bulletins, including the online guide to the ADA and ABA Standards. He also modelled facilities and spaces for use in the Board’s popular series of accessibility animations.

 


ADA Title II Action Guide Now Available

ADA Action Guide for State and Local GovernmentsThe New England ADA Center has released an online ADA Action Guide for State and Local Governments to help public sector entities understand and fulfill their  obligations under the law.  The guide explains provisions in title II of the ADA, including requirements for effective communication and access to facilities and programs.  It also decribes actions that state and local governments must take, such as appointing an ADA Coordinator, establishing grievance procedures, conducting self-evaluations, and implementing transition plans.  The material includes sample documents and self-evaluation forms, answers to frequently asked questions, and best practices.  Further information is available on the New England ADA Center’s website.

 


New Edition of the ICC A117.1 Accessibility Standard Approved

ICC A117.1 Standard The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently approved the 2017 edition of the ICC A117.1 Standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. This voluntary consensus standard, which provides technical provisions for accessible spaces and elements in facilities, is referenced by the International Building Code (IBC). (The 2018 IBC will reference the prior edition of the ICC A117.1 Standard, so jurisdictions that wish to implement the 2017 edition will have to adopt it specifically.)

The new edition features enhanced requirements for clear floor space, turning space and accessible routes based on new research on human measures and wheeled mobility. It also includes new provisions covering acoustics in classrooms, electric vehicle charging stations, and components in public rights-of-ways such as curb ramps, blended transitions, detectable warnings, and on-street parking. The International Code Council (ICC), which maintains the IBC and serves as the secretariat for the ANSI A1171 Committee, will publish the new standard in June. Visit the ICC’s website for further information.

 


 

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.