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Access Board to Host Workshop Comparing Accessibility in the U.S. and Australia

US & Australian flagsThe Access Board will host a workshop with accessibility experts from Australia on November 13 that will compare how building accessibility is addressed in Australia and the U.S. The public is welcome to the free event which will explore methods used in both countries to regulate, monitor, and enforce compliance with accessibility requirements. The goal is to foster a better understanding of how covered entities meet their responsibilities under civil rights and other laws governing access to the built environment.

Representing Australia will be Michael Small, a former government official and the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship to study building accessibility from an international perspective. He was active in drafting Australia’s building accessibility regulations and standards and also produced a variety of resources to assist building professionals in meeting them. He will be joined by Robin Banks, a consultant in human rights who formerly headed the Australian Public Interest Advocacy Centre and served as a state Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

The Access Board has invited panelists from disability rights organizations, building codes groups, government, the design profession, and industry. The structured portion of the program will run from 9:30 to noon. Following a break for lunch, there will be an informal guided discussion with invited panelists, other participants, and members of the public that will cover implementation, particularly in relation to alterations and additions to existing facilities. The public can attend in person or remotely through a phone bridge with communication access real-time translation (CART). Further details, including the CART link, will be posted on the Board’s website at a later date.

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at (202) 272-0020(v), (202) 272- 0076 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Achieving Access for People with Disabilities in the Built Environment: An International Comparison
November 13, 9:30 – 12:00 (ET), followed by an informal discussion after the lunch break
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.
Dial-in Number: (877) 701-1628, International: (517) 268-2743; Passcode: 69545743
CART Link: [to be posted]
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.

 


GSA Holds Interagency Forum on Refreshed Section 508 Standards

David Capozzi speaking at GSA forumThe General Services Administration (GSA) held an interagency forum on accessibility to information and communication technology (ICT) on October 13 at its national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The full-day event focused on the refreshed Section 508 Standards issued by the Access Board in January which apply to ICT procured, developed, maintained, or used by federal agencies. The Access Board and several other agencies partnered with GSA in conducting the event, including the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. It attracted over 350 attendees from government, industry, and advocacy.

The day started off with welcoming remarks from Dominic Sale, Deputy Associate Administrator for GSA’s Office of Information, Integrity & Access and a keynote address by Access Board Executive Director David Capozzi.

“Although section 508 only applies to the federal government, its impact has been felt in state governments, the private sector, and around the world,” Capozzi noted. “Last year, the U.S. government spent about $80 billion on ICT; when you can harness that purchasing power to drive accessibility, progress is bound to happen.”

Capozzi recounted the history of Section 508 and called attention to its global effects. “The European Union now has a new set of ICT accessibility standards – modeled after our updated section 508 standards; Australia is using public procurement to drive accessible technology; and, Canada is developing a new law that will address public procurement of ICT as well,” he stated. “The world is paying attention to what we do here.”

The forum featured a series of workshops organized into tracks on ICT development, agency policy, and the revised 508 Standards. Representatives from the Access Board and other agencies conducted the sessions which addressed different aspects of Section 508 and the standards, including major changes in the updated standards, how the standards apply to federal acquisitions, IT development contracts and the IT lifecycle, revisions to federal agency Section 508 policies, testing methods and other topics. The event also provided an opportunity to publicize new tools and resources, including a “Toolkit” on the revised 508 standards developed by an interagency transition team and the Information Technology Industry Council’s recent release of an updated Voluntary Product Accessibility Template which businesses can use to document product conformance with the revised standards.

For further information on the Section 508 Standards, visit the Board’s website and GSA’s section508.gov website.

 


Access Board to Meet November 15

Laptop with Board meeting on screenThe Access Board will hold its next meeting on November 15 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 November 8 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
November 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.

 


Upcoming Board Webinars

laptop with Access Board logo

The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place November 2 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and review differences between the ADA Standards and counterpart provisions in the International Building Code (IBC) and the accessibility standard it references, the ANSI A117.1 Standard. While the ADA Standards and IBC/ANSI A117.1 were largely harmonized, substantive differences remain. In addition, the newly released 2017 edition of the A117.1 standard includes additional changes not reflected in the ADA Standards. A representative from the International Code Council, which maintains the IBC and published the new A117.1 standard, will partner with the Board to highlight differences between these documents, answer questions, and clarify common areas of confusion.

For more information or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) 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 November 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will review available resources explaining the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Issued by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WIA), WCAG 2.0 is a globally recognized, technology-neutral standard for accessible web content. The Board’s updated Section 508 Standards reference WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria Level A and AA and applies them not only to web-based content but to other electronic content as well. This session will cover various technical assistance materials issued by the W3C’s WIA to support use of the WCAG 2.0, including a customizable reference guide and guidance on developing conformant web content.

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.

 


Mayer-Rothschild Foundation Releases Report on Grab Bar Research

Mayer-Rothschild Foundation logoAt the Access Board’s September meeting, Board members received a briefing on the results of recent research sponsored by Mayer-Rothschild Foundation on grab bar specifications for independent and assisted toilet transfers in residential care facilities. The study used subject testing to assess preferred configurations, dimensions, and placement of grab bars at toilets. Project Director Jon Sanford of Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access and Margaret Calkins of the Mayer-Rothschild Foundation presented the findings from the project.

The study tested the side and rear grab bar configuration required by the ADA Standards, parallel fold-down grab bars on both sides, and customized configurations preferred by test subjects. The subject pool included seniors who can bear weight and transfer independently and those who required assistance. Researchers collected feedback from both elders and caregivers on various specifications, including grab bar length, height, positioning, as well as spatial dimensions and clearances for assisted transfers.

There was strong preference, highly consistent among transfer types, for a hybrid configuration with fold-down grab bars on both sides approximately 13” – 14” from the toilet centerline along with a fixed grab bar on one side two feet from the toilet centerline. The optimal configurations were further tested in follow-up field trials and in laboratory biomechanical evaluations. Researchers also conducted force tests on bilateral fold-down grab bars to determine their maximum weight capacity.

These and other findings are discussed in the project report, “Determination of Grab Bar Specifications for Independent and Assisted Transfers in Residential Care Settings.” The research was funded by the Hulda B. & Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation, a national philanthropy dedicated to improving long-term care for elders. Visit the Mayer-Rothschild Foundation’s website for further information.

 


Transportation Research Board Issues Airport Wayfinding Guide

Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities (cover)The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has published a guidebook on airport wayfinding for people who are elderly or have a disability under its Airport Cooperative Research Program. The new resource, Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities, offers best practices for improving and optimizing information for wayfinding and travel by people with cognitive, sensory, or mobility challenges in the complex environment of airports. It is intended to help airport operators and planners implement pedestrian wayfinding systems in standardized accessible formats to better serve travelers with disabilities or who are elderly.

The guidebook includes an airport wayfinding accessibility audit, guidance on creating wayfinding plans, information on best practices and available technologies and state-of-the-art techniques for wayfinding, and other topics. Further information is available on TRB’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.