Access Restored to Popular Boardwalk in New York City under the ABA
Metal ramp to Rockaway BoardwalkWhen Super Storm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, it destroyed most of the iconic Rockaway Boardwalk in Queens. The following year, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began work to restore the 5½ mile boardwalk using disaster relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. Shortly after the boardwalk reopened in May 2017, a complaint was filed with the Access Board under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) alleging that ramps at two locations along the boardwalk that had been destroyed were replaced with stairs.

In response, the Board opened an investigation under the ABA which requires access to facilties that received federal funding. The Board determined that the facility was subject to the law based on the federal funds used and that the restoration project did not comply with the applicable accessisbility requirements which are known as the ABA Accessibility Standards. As a result, the Board directed the New York City Parks Department to undetake corrective action to install ramps in compliance with the standards. The city recently completed work to install metal ramps at two locations (Beach 24th and 25th Streets) to resolve the complaint. The city plans to construct permanent concrete ramps at both sites by October 2021.

The ABA, the first federal law to address accessibility, applies to facilities designed, built, or altered with federal money or leased by federal agencies. Visit the Board's website for further information on the law and how to file a complaint.

 

Board Webinar Series to Review the ADA and ABA Standards
laptop with Access Board sealStarting in the new year, the Access Board will devote its monthly webinar series to a chapter-by-chapter review of the ADA Standards. These standards govern the construction and alteration of a wide range of facilities covered by the ADA. The sessions will also cover similar standards that apply to facilities that are federally funded under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). Presenters will focus on common sources of confusion in the ADA and ABA Standards and frequently asked questions.

The first session in this year-long program will take place January 9 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover application of the standards (Chapter 1). Presenters will explain how the ADA and ABA Standards apply in new construction, alterations, and additions, dimensions for adults and children, equivalent facilitation and modifications or waivers, construction tolerances and other conventions, referenced standards, and definitions.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for this session. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the live webinar.
Over the course of the year, this review will also cover:

  • February 6 – Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements (New Construction)
  • March 5 – Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements (Alterations)
  • April 2 – Chapter 3: Building Blocks
  • May 7 – Chapter 4: Accessible Routes
  • June 4 – Chapter 5: General Site and Building Elements
  • July 9 – Chapter 6: Plumbing Elements and Facilities
  • August 6 – Chapter 7: Communication Elements and Features
  • September 3 – Chapter 8: Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements (Part 1)
  • October 1 – Chapter 8: Special Rooms, Spaces, and Elements (Part 2)
  • November 5 – Chapter 9: Built-In Elements
  • December 3 – Chapter 10: Recreation Facilities

The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

 


Board to Conduct Question and Answer Webinar on the 508 Standards
laptop with "Sec. 508 webinars" on screenThe next webinar in the Section 508 Best Practices webinar series will take place January 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will provide an open question-and-answer session on the refreshed 508 Standards with Section 508 Specialists at the U.S. Access Board and the General Services Administration. Presenters will review questions that commonly arise in applying and meeting the 508 Standards. They will cover how the standards are used in the acquisition of information technology, interpretations of various provisions in the standards, how to validate conformance with Section 508 and various types of testing tools, resources that are available to help users understand and implement Section 508, and other topics. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the live webinar.

For more details or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

The Section 508 Best Practices webinar series provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the Access Board.

 


Next Board Meeting Will be Held January 15
Laptop with Board meeting on screenThe Access Board will hold its next meeting on January 15 from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET) at the Board's conference center 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 by January 8 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
January 15, 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.

 


Christopher Kuczynski Joins the Board as Deputy General Counsel
Christopher Kuczynski In November, the Access Board hired Christopher Kuczynski as its new Deputy General Counsel. Kuczynski served for over 20 years as Assistant Legal Counsel at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where he helped implement provisions of the ADA banning discrimination in hiring and in the workplace. In this role, he oversaw development of regulations, guidance, and technical assistance documents on Title I of the ADA. He also was involved in creating new regulations on affirmative action for people with disabilities in federal employment and in implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In 2003, he served as Special Assistant to the EEOC Chair and later served on a detail as Associate Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council where he worked on President George W. Bush’s disability initiative.

Before joining EEOC in 1997, he worked as a trial attorney in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice for several years. He was responsible for enforcement of Titles II and III of the ADA and reached significant settlement agreements with various public accommodations, including national theater and hotel chains. Prior to his government service, he worked in private practice in his native Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University, a law degree from Temple Law School, and a Master’s in Law from Yale Law School.

 


NCD Issues Progress Report on Enforcement of Disability Rights Laws
NCD logoThe National Council on Disability (NCD) has released a report that evaluates the work of several federal agencies in regulating and enforcing major disability rights laws, including the ADA and the Fair Housing Act. The report assesses and offers recommendations on the implementation, enforcement, and compliance activities of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to the report, DOJ has improved transparency by publishing letters of findings, settlement agreements, and consent decrees on its ada.gov website. However, NCD indicates that DOJ has not been consistent in its litigation strategies and failed to make critical enforcement data available for its assessment. The study also found that decreasing staff levels in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity hinder enforcement, and that HUD relies heavily on state and local fair housing enforcement agencies, which can impact the consistency of investigations of housing complaints. NCD determined that the FCC is able to resolve all accessibility complaints through negotiations without the need for any investigative or enforcement action, but such resolutions impact transparency. The report, “Has the Promise Been Kept? Federal Enforcement of Disability Rights Laws (Part 2),” and related information is posted on NCD’s website.

Each year, NCD submits a report to the President and members of Congress to describe the status and progress of national disability policy and to offer recommendations on continuing, new, and emerging issues that affect the lives of people with disabilities. NCD issued Part 1 of the report last year which evaluated the progress made by the Access Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor in enforcing the ADA and other disability rights laws.

 


FTA Releases Guidance on Automated Transit Bus Systems
DOT logoAs the transit industry explores the use of automated transit buses, many stakeholders have questions about the impact of new technologies on transit agencies, employees, riders, and the general public. In response, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued guidance on how accessibility and other requirements issued by the Department of Transportation apply to automated transit buses. The document answers frequently asked questions concerning application of the ADA, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. It also covers FTA regulations governing the Buy America program, awards management, and bus testing, among others.

The guidance states that the requirements of the ADA apply to automated transit projects depending on the type of vehicle used and whether the system is fixed route or demand responsive. All vehicles acquired by a public entity for use on a fixed route system must be accessible according to accessibility standards for transportation vehicles issued by DOT under the ADA. The FTA document clarifies that most, if not all, vehicles used in such automated systems will be subject to specifications in the standards for buses based on how buses are defined and covered in DOT’s ADA regulations (49 CFR Part 37). Access is also required to vehicles in demand responsive systems so that the system, when viewed in its entirety, is equally accessible to passengers with disabilities. These requirements apply equally to private companies that are contracted by public entities to provide transportation services.

The guidance also covers questions concerning circulator transit systems with smartphone hailing apps, low-speed shuttles and minibuses, fully automated buses, and automated transit vehicles used in temporary pilot or demonstration projects. For further information on how the ADA and other federal mandates apply to these systems, visit FTA’s website or contact its Strategic Transit Automation Research Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


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.