Access Board Holds Town Hall Meeting in Phoenix

Board members and staff at the Phoenix town hall meetingThe Access Board held a town hall meeting in Phoenix on May 23 that featured presentations by local speakers on various topics and a public “open mic” forum. It was held at Ability360, a Center for Independent Living. Board Vice Chair Karen Tamley and Executive Director David Capozzi opened the meeting with introductions and an overview of the Board and its work.

The first two speakers addressed access for people with heightened sensitivites to chemicals and electromagnetic fields. Dr. Ann McCampbell, Co-Chair of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Task Force of New Mexico, described the debilitating physical reactions experienced by those with an acute sensitivity to various chemicals in the environment, aslo known as Multiple Chemical Sensititvites (MCS). These include chemicals used in fragrances, personal care products, deodorizers, cleaners, pesticides, wall and floor coverings, and building materials. Dr. McCampbell, who has had MCS for almost 30 years, also called attention to sensitivity to electromagnetism from cell phones, security equipment, utility meters, florescent lighting, and other sources. She noted that the prevalence of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) appears to be increasing.

Susan Molloy, M.A., an advocate for people with MCS and environmental illness for 35 years, discussed design recommendations that can improve access for people with MCS. These include installing fresh-air ventilation systems and operable windows, allowing more natural light, avoiding carpet, and pesticide-free landscaping. To improve access for people with EHS, smart meters should be avoided or shielded. Molloy called attenion to an earlier project on indoor environmental quality that was conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences with funding from the Access Board. She outlined findings and recommendations from the project, which are provided in a report that is avaialble on the Board’s website.

The following presentations addressed ADA compliance in the cities of Phoenix and Tempe. Phoenix ADA Coorindator Peter Fischer reviewed recent initiatives by the city to enhance accessibility under its ADA Compliance Program. He noted that the city regularly surveys facilities for compliance with the ADA and that transition plans are continuously updated to reflect city projects and programs. Several Phoenix tranportation departments have undertaken transition plans, including a city-wide program to install curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals. Last year, over 2,000 curb ramps were replaced. Other city initiatives include a new committee on integrating accessibility in emergency planning and response, an annual awards accessibility showcase, and a “Save Our Space” campaign that enlists volunteers to help enforce accessible parking.

Michele Stokes, an ADA Compliance Specialist with the Tempe Office of Strategic Management and Diversity, noted an online resource the city has launched to collect data on accessibility issues on city property for self-evaluations and tranisiton planning. It includes a newly launched interactive map with data from digital surveys of sidewalks, curb ramps, cross walks, bus stops and pedestrian signals that will help city planners with transition planning. The surveys collect data on running and cross slopes, changes in level, such as joint heavings, surface gaps, and other features along with geographic coordinates. The city also allows the public to report access issues online and offers other resources on local accessibility.

The final speaker, Bob Hazlett of the Maricopa Association of Governments, addressed autonomous vehicles and opportunities they may offer people with disablitities, including those with vision impairments. He noted that a lot of testing of driverless vehicles is done in Arizona which is becoming known as the place “where self-driving vehicles go to learn.” While it is not known when autonomous vehicles may fully take to the road, the potential impacts on public policy and planning at the local level are being assessed, including those pertaining to parking, infrastructure, public transportation, and cybersecurity, among others.

During the public forum that followed, members of the public raised areas where more needs to be done for accessibility. Many urged action to address access for people with MCS and EHS and described how exposure to certain commonly-used chemicals and to elemtromagnetic fields jeopardize their health, limit access to health care, housing, and other services, and lead to isolation. Some commenters submitted information on the subject and endorsed the work of organziations such as the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies.

Other issues noted included the need for entrance doors to be automated, hotel beds that are too high for transfer, access to casinos, and the lack of electronic shopping carts. The Board was urged to do more outreach and training on access to medical care equipment which remains problematic despite new standards the Board issued last year for medical disagnostic equipment.

In addition, concerns were raised about access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Several comments focused on the sound quality and availability of assistive listening systems in meeting spaces. They also addressed connectivity issues that impact video remote sign language interpretation in hospitals and the lack of communication access in pharmacies to instructions for taking medications.

 


Board to Host Information Meeting on Assembly Areas September 6 

assembly iconOn September 6 the Access Board will hold a public forum on accessibility and assembly areas. The day-long event will focus on accessibility issues related to the design of such facilities, including movie theaters, dinner theaters, performing arts centers, lecture halls, grand stands, stadiums, arenas, and other assembly venues. It will offer an open dialogue to review design challenges and identify potential solutions.

“Our goal is to bring everyone together to find ways of resolving accessibility issues that are unique to different types of assembly spaces,” states Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “The Board will use this information to enhance the technical assistance and training it provides to the public.”

Persons with disabilities, advocacy groups, designers and architects, trade groups, codes organizations, industry, and other interested parties are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. Additional details, including the agenda, will be posted in coming weeks. This event will be in-person only and will not be streamed online. Direct any questions to Dave Yanchulis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).

Information Meeting on Assembly Area Accessibility
September 6, 9:30 – 5:00 (ET)
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.

 


Bill Botten Named Board's Coordinator of Training and Technical Assistance

bill bottenBill Botten, a long-time Board Accessibility Specialist, has been appointed Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator. In this dual role, he will oversee both the agency's training program and its provision of technical guidance to the public. The Board regularly provides training on its accessibility guidelines and standards upon request at various events and conferences across the county. It also conducts a monthly webinar series in partnership with National Network of ADA Centers. Botten will field training requests, coordinate educational sessions and webinars, and assign Board staff.

In addition, Botten will manage the Board's technical assistance program. The Board regularly provides technical guidance on its accessibility guidelines and standards and accessible design through its toll-free help line and by email. Accessibility specialists are available to answer questions on accessibility as it relates to the built environment, outdoor sites, streets and sidewalks, transportation vehicles and vessels, information and communication technology, and medical diagnostic equipment.

Botten has served as an Accessibility Specialist at the Board for 18 years and was active in the development of new guidelines and guidance documents for outdoor developed areas and for recreation facilities. He has trained extensively in these and other areas and is a top-rated and highly-requested presenter.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars 
laptop with Access Board logo

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place July 12 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for transportation facilities. Presenters will cover provisions for bus stops and shelters, rail stations, and train stations.

The following webinar on August 2 will feature an open question and answer session. Questions are welcome on the Board's accessibility guidelines and standards, including those issued under the ADA and ABA, as well as other topics related to the Board's work.

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. The next webinar in this series is scheduled for July 31 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will address how federal agencies can update policies for the revised 508 Standards. For more details or to register for this or other sessions, 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.

 


Next Access Board Meeting to Take Place July 11

The Access Board will hold its next meeting July 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.

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. by July 5 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 11, 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.

 


DOJ Rules for Movie Theater Captioning and Audio Description Take Effect

DOJ sealAs of June 2, movie theaters showing digital movies must provide a means for delivering closed captioning and audio description under rules issued under the ADA by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Issued 18 months ago, the rules supplement provisions in DOJ’s ADA regulations on provision of auxiliary aids and services. Movie theaters that show digital movies equipped with closed captions and audio description must acquire and maintain equipment for displaying captions and transmitting audio description.

Closed captions are displayed individually to patrons with hearing impairments at their seats. Open captioning displayed on the movie screen is not required. Audio description provides additional narration of a movie’s visual elements to patrons with vision impairments and is typically transmitted by infrared or FM systems to wireless headsets. The rule specifies the minimum number of closed captioning and audio description devices that must be provided based on the number of auditoriums in a theater. The rule does not apply to theaters showing analog movies only, nor does it require such theaters to convert to digital projection systems. For further information, visit DOJ’s website or contact its ADA hotline at (800) 514-0301 (v) or (800) 514-3083 (TTY).

 


W3C Releases Updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

W3C log0On June 5, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released an update of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, a globally recognized, technology-neutral accessibility standard for web content. WCAG 2.1 builds upon guidance developed by W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative by expanding coverage of mobile device accessibility and enhancing access for people with low vision and who have cognitive or learning disabilities.

“The Board applauds the progress made by the W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group in its release of the WCAG 2.1,” said Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “The efforts to broaden the range of disability needs currently addressed by WCAG 2.0 will benefit many individuals who still encounter barriers to accessing the web.”

The Board’s updated Section 508 Standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector reference the WCAG 2.0 and apply it to websites, electronic content, and software. In developing WCAG 2.1, the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group ensured backwards capability so that content meeting WCAG 2.1 also satisfies WCAG 2.0.

W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative works with organizations around the world to promote accessibility of the Web. It helps ensure that web technologies support access, develops accessibility guidelines and related resources, and promotes harmonization of international standards. For further information, visit www.w3.org/WAI/ or contact Amy van der Hiel, W3C’s Media Relations Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (617) 253-5628.

 


 

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.