Access Board Approves Rules on ICT Refresh and Medical Diagnostic Equipment

Collection of IT devices, including laptop with section 508 & 255 on screen and medical exam tableAt its September meeting, the Access Board approved updated requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) and new standards for medical diagnostic equipment. Both rules have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance, the final step in the rulemaking process before publication.

The ICT rule updates standards issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act that apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. Is also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications products and services required to be accessible under Section 255 of the Communications Act.

The other rule establishes new accessibility standards, the first of their kind, for medical diagnostic equipment, including examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological equipment, and mammography equipment. These standards, which are authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, provide technical requirements to ensure that people with disabilities can independently access and use such equipment. Further information on this rulemaking is available on the Board’s website.

Each of the rules will be published on the Board’s website and in the Federal Register once cleared by OMB. The Board will issue updates with further details as they become available.


The Next Access Board Meeting will be Held November 9

The Access Board will hold its next meeting on November 9 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
November 9, 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 Webinars

laptop with Access Board logoThe next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place November 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and provide an advanced session on accessible residential facilities. Presenters will focus on untangling the various federal laws that address access to housing, including the Architectural Barriers Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They will discuss how the design requirements of these laws apply and review requirements for residential dwelling units in the ADA and ABA Standards.

The following webinar on December 1 will provide an advanced session on accessible transient lodging and will include a representative from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

For more information or to register, visit Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. Those attending the webinar on residential facilities are encouraged to view a previous webinar on the subject in advance of the upcoming session. 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.


National Council on Disability Issues Report on Technology

NCD Report on TechnologyThe National Council on Disability (NCD) has issued a report on measures to ensure access to information and communication technologies for people with disabilities. The document provides recommendations to the President, Congress, and federal agencies, as well as to the technology industry, the private sector, and state and local governments. NCD provided a briefing on the report at the Capitol on October 7 with representatives from industry, disability groups, and federal agencies, including the Access Board.

“In today’s world, technological equality for persons with disabilities is a social justice issue,” stated NCD Chair Clyde Terry. “To be truly accessible, technological inclusion must be built in from the ground up with every user in mind. Anything else is a step backwards. Anything less creates second class citizens.”

Each year, NCD submits a report to the President and Congress outlining recommendations on new and emerging issues affecting people with disabilities. NCD devoted this year’s report to technology because of its dominant role in everyday life and its potential to transform society and opportunities for people with disabilities. The report explores how technology can contribute to the lives of people with disabilities in education, employment, health and well-being, and independent living. It also identifies common barriers to accessibility, as well as emerging technologies and innovations, and provides recommendations on policies and practices to promote inclusive technology.

The report urges Congress to establish a “Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities” that sets forth principles for any future technology legislation and ensures fair and equal access to technology. It recommends steps that Congress and federal agencies can take to promote inclusive technology and urges the Access Board and the Department of Justice to finalize outstanding rules on technology accessibility. (The Access Board, as noted above, recently submitted for executive clearance a final rule updating its requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 and the Communications Act). In addition, NCD calls upon industry to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines when designing websites and web-based technologies and to invest in research and development of accessible technology. The report also outlines steps private and public sector entities can take to procure inclusive technology.

The report and related information is available on NCD’s website. NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.


NIST Completes Study on Evacuation Needs of People with Mobility Impairments

NIST logoThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has completed a study on the evacuation needs of people with mobility impairments. The project collected information through interviews with over 50 participants on experiences they have had at work evacuating from multistory buildings during emergencies or drills. Researchers sought opinions on their concerns, comfort level, familiarity with evacuation procedures, training received, and use of evacuation elevators

Participants stated that evacuation methods should afford occupants with mobility impairments a feeling of safety, independence and control by allowing them to evacuate quickly with their own mobility aids and ensuring a means of communicating with emergency personnel. The researchers report that the interviews “detailed a wide variety of experiences, both positive and negative, and identified a number of potential issues.” Some participants, for example, indicated that they had received proper training and clear instructions for evacuation and were confident that they would be safely evacuated in emergencies, while others stated that they had received little or no training, did not have sufficient information to make decisions, and felt they needed to make their own plans for evacuation.

The project report, “Perspectives of Occupants with Mobility Impairments on Fire Evacuation and Elevators,” is intended to provide guidance to building designers, facility managers, safety officers, emergency personnel and others tasked with developing and implementing procedures for people with mobility impairments. For further information, visit NIST’s website.


NIDILRR to Hold Stakeholder Listening Sessions on Long-Range Plan

NIDILRR logoThe National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) is hosting a series of listening sessions across the country to gather input on its funding priorities and strategic direction for its next five-year plan (2018 – 2023). The first meeting was held October 14 in Denver. The next meetings will take place October 28 in San Francisco, November 1 in Chicago, November 18 in Boston, and December 5 in Dallas. Each session is open to the public and will be held from 10:00 to 1:00 local time. Interested parties can attend in person and by phone, and can submit comments by email. NIDILRR is particularly interested in input on:

  • issues or barriers that make it challenging to be an active member of one’s community;
  • improvements that would make daily life better; and
  • changes in the last five years that have affected positively or negatively the ability to achieve goals.

Speakers are requested to submit a written copy of their comments to be included in the record for the meeting. The meetings will be held at offices of the Department of Health and Human Services, and a photo ID will be needed for entry. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services will be provided. Registration is required and can be completed online or by phone at (703) 356-8035 ext. 105 or fax at (703) 356-8314. Comments submitted by email should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by December 12, 2016.

For further information, visit or contact Robin Toliver at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 703) 356-8035 ext. 105.


DOT Requires Airlines to Report Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters

Department of Transportation seal

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule that requires U.S. airlines to report data on incidents of mishandled wheelchairs and scooters in addition to other types of checked baggage.  Carriers will be required to file with DOT on a monthly basis the total number of wheelchairs and scooters stored in cargo holds and the amount that have been mishandled, including damaged, lost, delayed, or pilfered.  This information will be included in DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports.  The new mandate, which takes effect January 1, 2018, applies to any air carrier accounting for at least 0.5% of domestic scheduled passenger revenue.  According to DOT, the rule will enable air travelers with disabilities to compare carrier performance in this area and make informed travel decisions.  For further information, visit DOT’s website or contact Tim Kelly of DOT at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 366-5952.


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.