Access Board Updates ADA Guidelines for Buses and Vans
bus icon and cover of Federal RegisterThe Access Board has issued a final rule updating sections of its accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The rule revises provisions in the guidelines that apply to buses and vans to enhance accessibility and to address industry trends and improvements in design and technology. The guidelines, which the Board originally published in 1991, apply to new or remanufactured vehicles (they also include provisions for rail vehicles that the Board will update separately).

The guidelines for buses and vans address boarding access, fare devices, interior circulation, seating and securement, signs, lighting, and announcement systems. The rule reduces the maximum slope for vehicle ramps because low floor buses are now ubiquitous in fixed route systems. New provisions also address level boarding systems and incorporate updated standards for wheelchair securement systems. The rule improves communication access by requiring that buses in fixed route systems with at least 100 buses have automated stop and route announcements that are visual as well as audible. Further, access to over-the-road buses, which are typically used in commuter and long-distance bus lines and charter services, is more comprehensively addressed. In addition to these substantive changes, the rule features a new format and numbering system. An assessment of the costs and benefits is included with the rule.

“The Board is eager to issue this update which will improve usability aboard buses and vans by building upon the significant engineering and technological advancements that have occurred over the years,” states Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi. “We will now turn our attention to updating the sections on rail vehicles.”

The Board previously issued versions of the rule in draft and proposed forms for public comment and has finalized the rule based on the feedback received. At a later date, the Board will propose updates to sections of the guidelines covering vehicles in fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, and intercity rail, according to recommendations from an advisory committee it chartered, the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee, which submitted its report to the Board last year.

The Board’s vehicle guidelines serve as the basis for mandatory standards issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) under the ADA. Compliance with the updated requirements for buses and vans will become mandatory once specified by DOT in a future update of its ADA standards.

For further information, visit the Board’s website or contact Scott Windley at (202) 272-0025 (voice), (202), 272-0028 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Access Board to Hold Its Next Meeting January 11
Laptop with Board meeting on screenThe Access Board will hold its next meeting on January 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. The meeting agenda includes updates on Board rulemaking and other activities.

Meeting of the U.S. Access Board      
January 11, 1:30 – 3:00
Webcast link:
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 Webinar
laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place January 5 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will feature an open question and answer session on accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for buildings and facilities. Presenters will field questions from attendees on the ADA and ABA standards, including their scope and application and specific requirements for building elements and spaces.

For more information or to register, visit 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.


President Obama Appoints Board Members
President Barack Obama named Gregory S. Fehribach of Indianapolis to the Access Board. He also reappointed three incumbent members to second terms: Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda, Shelley Siegel, FASID, and Karen Tamley.

Gregory S. FehribachFehribach is president of the Fehribach Group, a consulting firm he founded in 1995 that specializes in accessibility, universal design, and compliance with the ADA. He is also an attorney with the firm of Doninger, Tuohy and Bailey, LLP in Indianapolis and has practiced law for the past 30 years. Since 1988, Fehribach has served as a panel trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Indiana. In 2009, he was designated a Distinguished Fellow at Ball State University where he established The Disability Project. Fehribach has served on the Ball State University Board of Trustees, the Indiana Governor’s Planning Council for People with Disabilities, the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, and the Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees. He succeeds Hans Van Winkle on the Access Board.

Dr. Victor Santiago PinedaDr. Pineda of Berkeley, California is President of the World Enabled and the Pineda Foundation, positions he has held since founding the organizations in 2003. In 2012, he served as the Chancellor's Post-Doctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity and as an Adjunct Professor in City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Pineda was a Senior Research Fellow at the World Institute on Disability in 2011. As a policy consultant, he has advised international agencies such as the World Bank and United Nations, as well as state and federal governments, in the development and implementation of programs and policies that include people with disabilities.

Shelley Siegel, FASIDSiegel of Lake Worth, Florida is the founder and president of Universal Design and Education Network, an interior design firm that specializes in universal design in residential and commercial projects. She has also been a consulting designer of the Siegel Design Group, Inc. since 1972. Siegel is a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and a member of the Design Alliance for Accessible Sustainable Environments. She previously served as a member of the Advisory Panel for the ASID National Universal Design Program, the Florida Coordinating Council on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs ADA Advisory Board.

Karen TamleyTamley of Chicago, Illinois serves as Commissioner of the Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, a position she was first appointed to in 2005. As Commissioner, Tamley leads numerous disability policy and compliance initiatives in transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, schools and technology, and other areas. Prior to her appointment, Tamley served in various management, policy, and advocacy positions at disability organizations for over 15 years, including ADAPT in Denver and Access Living in Chicago where she was Director of Programs at Access Living.

The Access Board is an independent Federal agency that provides leadership in accessible design under the ADA and other laws. 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, and the other half is comprised of public members appointed by the President.


GAO Releases Report on Accessible Prescription Drug Labels
pill bottleThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently completed an assessment on the availability of prescription drug labels that are accessible to people with vision impairments or who are elderly. Under this study, GAO surveyed pharmacies, advocacy organizations, industry groups, and regulatory agencies to assess industry compliance with voluntary best practices for providing access to drug labels that were developed by a stakeholder panel convened by the Access Board. These best practices include braille, large print, and newer technologies such as digital voice or text-to-speech recorders, radio frequency identification tags, and smart devices and computers. The best practices and study were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.

GAO found that six of the nine largest chain pharmacy companies and four mail order pharmacies used by large insurers reported that they can provide accessible labels. In addition, the best practices were implemented by eight of 18 randomly selected retail pharmacy locations. These and other findings are contained in a report on the study, “Prescription Drug Labels: Actions Needed to Increase Awareness of Best Practices for Accessible Labels for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.”

The results also indicate that less than 1% of prescriptions were dispensed with accessible labels. Stakeholders consulted noted that individuals with vision impairments continue to face barriers accessing drug label information, including identifying pharmacies that can provide accessible labels. Challenges that remain include a lack of awareness of the best practices, low demand and high costs for providing accessible labels, technical challenges for providing these labels, and the lack of a mandate to implement the best practices. Many stakeholders identified greater dissemination of the best practices as a step, among others, that could help address some of these challenges. The report provides recommendations for the National Council on Disability (NCD) which was tasked with conducting an informational campaign on the best practices. In May, NCD issued and distributed a brochure that outlines each of the voluntary best practices.

Visit GAO’s website for further information on the report. Information on the best practices is available on NCD’s website and the Board’s website.


DOJ Rule Requires Closed Captioning and Audio Description in Movie Theaters
DOJ sealThe Department of Justice (DOJ) has released a final rule that requires movie theaters to provide means of delivering closed movie captioning and audio description to patrons. The rule, which supplements provisions in DOJ’s ADA regulations on auxiliary aids and services, applies only to those theaters that show digital movies equipped with closed captions and audio description. Covered theater operators must acquire and maintain equipment for displaying captions and transmitting audio description through supplementary narration.

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. These requirements take effect in 18 months. The rule does not apply to theaters showing analog movies only, nor does it require such theaters to convert to digital projection systems. In addition, movie theaters must provide notice to the public on the availability of these assistive technologies and have staff available to assist patrons with this equipment.

For further information, visit DOJ’s website or contact its ADA hotline at (800) 514-0301 (v) or (800) 514-3083 (TTY).


NHTSA Issues Safety Standards for Quiet Cars
NHTSA logoThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued safety standards for newly manufactured hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles. The new safety standard mandates sound to help protect pedestrians, including those with vision impairments. The new rules (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141) require these vehicles to make audible noise when traveling at speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour (about 19 miles per hour) and when backing up so that pedestrians can detect their presence, direction and location. At higher speeds, the sound alert is not required because other factors, such as tire and wind noise, provide audible warnings to pedestrians.

"We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing the new standards. "With more, quieter hybrid and electrical cars on the road, the ability for all pedestrians to hear as well as see the cars becomes an important factor of reducing the risk of possible crashes and improving safety."

Manufacturers have until September 1, 2019, to equip all new hybrid and electric vehicles with sounds that meet the new federal safety standard. Half of new hybrid and electric light vehicles must comply one year before the final deadline. The standard is authorized by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. Visit NHTSA’s website for further information.

Access Rules Take Effect for Airline Kiosks and Websites
DOT sealAirline self-service kiosks installed after December 12 must be accessible under rules previously issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This applies to kiosks used for checking in, printing boarding passes, and other passenger services. In addition, airline websites must be fully accessible to the public as of this date.

The rules require compliance with accessibility standards so that passengers with sensory or physical disabilities can use airline kiosks independently. The standards are based on requirements in the ADA Standards for ATMs and fare machines and provisions for self-contained closed products in the Board’s Section 508 Standards covering electronic and information technology. They address operable parts, clear floor space, input controls, tactile elements, speech output, captioning, and other features. New units must comply until at least a quarter of all kiosks at each location are accessible. The requirement applies to U.S. and foreign air carriers that own, lease, or control automated airport kiosks at U.S. airports with at least 10,000 enplanements a year. In addition, U.S. airport operators that jointly own, lease, or control automated kiosks with U.S. or foreign air carriers must work with carriers to ensure that the kiosks installed are compliant.

The rules also require that public-facing pages of airline websites are accessible in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. This mandate applies to U.S. and foreign carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity exceeding 60 passengers and that own or control a primary website serving air travel consumers in the U.S. DOT issued these rules in 2013 under the Air Carrier Access Act which prohibits discrimination against air travelers with disabilities. Further information is available on DOT’s website.


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.