US Access Board

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Board Releases New Draft of ICT Rule for Public Comment
ICT Draft Rule (cover)The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment a second Advance Notice  of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that includes a revised draft of updated accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  This latest version includes changes made in response to public feedback received on an earlier draft issued last year. 

The draft rule jointly refreshes the Board’s Section 508 standards and its Section 255 guidelines which address access to computer hardware and software, websites, media players, electronic documents, telephones and cell phones, PDAs and other ICT products.  The Board is updating these requirements according to recommendations from an advisory body it chartered, the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee.

The Board released a previous draft of the rule in March 2010 and received almost 400 comments from the public, including industry, disability groups, consumers, government entities, research and trade organizations, accessibility consultants, and others.  In response to this input, the Board has simplified and streamlined the document for greater usability.  The revised draft further harmonizes the rule with other guidelines and standards and eliminates redundancy by referencing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG).  In addition, revisions have been made to clarify the relationship between performance and technical criteria, coverage of electronic content, and clearer requirements for ICT with closed functionality.

The released draft includes a discussion that explains these and other changes and highlights other topics where public comment is sought.  The deadline for comments is March 7.  During the comment period, the Board will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C. on January 11 and at the annual CSUN Conference in San Diego on March 1.  The Board will follow-up with a proposed rule based on the input received that will provide an additional round of comment before the rule is finalized.

The draft rule and related information are available on the Board’s website. This information is also posted on the website which allows visitors to submit or view comments.  For further information, contact Tim Creagan at, (202) 272-0016 (v), or (202) 272-0074 (TTY).

Public Hearings on the Draft ICT Rule January 11, 9:00 – Noon
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC

March 1, 1:00 – 3:00
27th Annual CSUN conference
Manchester Grand Hyatt
One Market Place
San Diego, CA

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Comment Period Extended for Proposed Rights-of-Way Rule
The Access Board has reopened the comment period on it its proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way to February 2, 2012. The original comment deadline was November 23. This action is being taken in response to requests from interested parties, including government and trade associations, for additional time to submit comments on the rule, as indicated in a published notice. The proposed guidelines address access to public streets and sidewalks, street crossings, on-street parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. Comments can be submitted or viewed through the website. Further information on this rulemaking is available on the Board’s website.

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Board to Release Draft Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment
In coming weeks, the Board plans to release for public comment draft standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment, including examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological equipment, and mammography equipment. The draft document will include technical criteria for the various types of equipment covered and solicit input from the public on specific topics. The Board is developing these standards in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Those interested in this rulemaking can sign up to receive further updates.

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