Access Board to Assess Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems on Aircraft

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The Access Board will examine the feasibility of equipping aircraft with wheelchair restraint systems so that people with disabilities do not have to transfer to plane seats. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which was passed into law in early October, directs the Board to conduct such a study in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, disability groups, aircraft manufacturers, and air carriers (Section 432). This effort is responsive to issues and complications travelers with disabilities face in not being able to use their mobility

"This is a significant issue in air travel that will require careful exploration and analysis,” states Access Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “The Board will engage stakeholders and experts in its study."

The act, which reauthorizes various federal aviation programs, also addresses other aspects of accessibility for air travelers with disabilities (Subtitle B). These include provisions for:

  • establishing an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights";
  • creating an “Advisory Committee on Air Travel Needs of Passengers with Disabilities” by the Department of Transportation to identify and assess access barriers and ways to address them;
  • a study on best practices for airport accessibility and training policies for airport and airline personnel by the Comptroller General;
  • increasing civil penalties for injuries to passengers with disabilities and for damage to mobility aids;
  • new regulations for service animals aboard aircraft; and
  • improving assistance by airport and airline personnel.

For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis at (202) 272-0026(v), (202) 272- 0027 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


NCD Releases Report on Disability Law Enforcement

NCD logoThe National Council on Disability (NCD) has released a report on the enforcement of federal disability laws by various federal agencies, including the Access Board. The report, “Has the Promise Been Kept? Federal Enforcement of Disability Rights Laws,” assesses the progress made by the Access Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor in implementation and enforcement activities concerning the Architectural Barriers Act, (ABA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other federal disability rights laws and programs. It measures progress based on recommendations made in a prior study NCD issued in 2000. NCD concludes that while the agencies made progress in disability rights compliance since the earlier report, the overall result is mixed.

The report recommends that the Access Board:

  • explore methods to expedite development of guidelines and standards;
  • stay abreast of emerging disability issues and accessibility developments through its Frontiers Committee;
  • publicize its casework and resolution of complaints under the ABA which requires access to facilities that are federally funded;
  • make its investigation methods more comprehensive and timely;
  • reduce the length of investigations through citations; and
  • partner with other federal agencies to more rigorously enforce the ABA nationwide.

"We welcome these recommendations from NCD on how the Board can improve its work, including its enforcement of the ABA,” said Board Executive Director David Capozzi. "The Board will do what it can to implement these and other improvements. Recently, for example, we posted information on the Board’s website to publicize the results of our ABA casework."

In assessing EEOC’s enforcement of ADA provisions covering employment and hiring, NCD recommends that EEOC undertake measures to evaluate the quality of its investigations. The report also suggests that EEOC develop simpler documents, provide explicit explanation for requesting accommodations in the charge filing process, improve the response time to complainants, and study the charge investigations priority system.

The study also assessed progress by various DOL entities that protect and advance the employment of people with disabilities. It provides specific policy or program recommendations for DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Wage and Hour Division, and the Employment and Training Administration.

Visit NCD’s website for further information on the report. 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. Each year NCD submits a report to the White House and Congress to report on the progress of national policy on behalf of people with disabilities and to offer recommendations on continuing, new, and emerging issues that affect their lives. Next year’s report will focus on enforcement progress by other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice.

 


Access Board to Meet November 7

Laptop with Board meeting on screenThe Access Board will hold its next meeting on November 7 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.

Meeting of the U.S. Access Board
November 7, 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

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Certain provisions in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards are prone to misinterpretation and generate many of the technical inquiries the Access Board receives. The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place December 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review and clarify common sources of confusion. Presenters will cover application of the standards in new construction and alterations, employee work areas, toilet rooms, signs, detectable warnings, and other “hot spots” in the standards.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register. 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 will take place November 27 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will cover making the business case for accessibility in the conduct of agency business. Presenters will review available resources and tools for ensuring access to electronic content, discuss ways to advance 508 implementation, and explain how agencies can raise awareness through their internet and intranet sites.

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.

 


International Building Code to Cover Acoustics in Classrooms

ICC A117.1 Standard and the IBCThe acoustical performance of many educational environments is impacted by various design practices and factors, from building and finishing materials to HVAC systems. While poor classroom acoustics impact learning for all children, the adverse effects are especially pronounced for those with hearing loss, speech or learning impairments, those who learn English as a second language, and young children.

The next edition of the International Building Code (IBC) will include a new provision for enhanced acoustics in classrooms in educational (Group E) occupancies. Under a successful proposal backed by the Access Board, the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, and the United Spinal Association, newly built classrooms will be required under the 2021 IBC to have enhanced acoustics according to referenced technical criteria.

"The Board is thrilled that requirements for the acoustical performance of educational environments will be part of the IBC," states Dave Yanchulis, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Service. "The Board has worked for years with various stakeholders to develop and refine acoustical standards for classrooms and to have them applied through building codes."

The Board first became involved in this effort in response to a petition from the parent of a child with a hearing loss urging action to ensure access to learning through good classroom acoustics. As a first step, the Board supported the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in establishing a new acoustical standard for classrooms and later assisted in revising and reformatting the standard and getting it accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Consistent with long-standing recommendations for good practice, the resulting ANSI/ASA S12.60 Classroom Acoustics Standard sets specific criteria for maximum background noise and reverberation time.

Last year, these technical requirements were incorporated into the 2017 edition of the ICC A117.1 Standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities (section 808). This voluntary consensus standard, which provides technical provisions for accessible spaces and elements in facilities, is referenced by the IBC. The ICC A117.1 criteria specify reverberation time and ambient sound levels both within and outside classrooms suitable for standard size, self-contained classrooms.

For almost a decade, the Board worked towards the goal of covering classroom acoustics in the IBC. It previously submitted proposals to the International Code Council (ICC), which maintains the IBC, in prior update cycles but had not been successful, until now. Consistent with the ICC A117.1 criteria, the IBC scoping requirement (section 1207) applies to classrooms with 20,000 cubic feet or less, which will cover most classrooms up to 2,000 square feet (based on a 10 foot ceiling height). See the ICC’s Group A Proposed Changes to the 2018 IBC, IBC-General (page G296).

For further information on the IBC or the A117.1 standard, visit ICC’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.