[Athen] U.S. Access Board Proposes Updated ICT Accessibility Requirements

Laurie Vasquez vasquez at sbcc.edu
Wed Feb 18 14:12:12 PST 2015

*U.S. Access Board Proposes Updated ICT Accessibility Requirements*

[image: laptop with collection of ICT, including laptop (Sec. 508 and Sec.
255 on screen), cell phones, tablet, and diskseal]
The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment aproposed rule
accessibility requirements for information and communication technology
(ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation
Act. The rule also would jointly update guidelines for telecommunications
equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.

"The Board's proposal is responsive to widespread changes and innovations
in the IT and communication industries," states Sachin Dev Pavithran, Vice
Chair of the Access Board. "It is important that the 508 Standards and 255
Guidelines stay abreast of the ever-evolving technologies they cover so
that accessibility for people with disabilities is properly addressed."

The proposed rule updates various requirements to address fundamental
shifts and trends in the market, such as the convergence of technologies
and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products like smart
phones. Another key goal of this update is to promote consistency with
other requirements in the U.S. and abroad in order to improve accessibility
and to facilitate compliance. A leading reference, the Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), is incorporated into the rule and applied
to web-based content as well as to offline documents and software. The
Board is proposing other revisions that will harmonize the rule with
voluntary consensus standards, including those issued by other countries
and international bodies such as the European Commission due to the global
nature of the ICT market.

The proposed rule specifies the technologies covered and contains
performance-based criteria as well as technical requirements for hardware,
software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for
all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing,
color perception, speech, manual dexterity, reach, and strength. The
proposed rule is based on recommendations from the Board's
Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory
Committee (TEITAC) which comprised a broad cross-section of stakeholders
representing industry, disability groups, government agencies, and other
countries. It also incorporates public feedback the Board received through
the release of two advance drafts of the rule.

"The significant input the Board has received from stakeholders and
interested parties throughout this process is reflected in the proposed
rule," notes Pavithran. "Such collective feedback is critical to getting
things right in the final rule, and it is no different with the current
proposal, which includes a host of questions the Board is posing to the
public to gather additional information on various topics."

Public comments on the rule, as well as on a preliminary assessment of its
estimated costs and benefits, are due in 90 days. The Board also will hold
public hearings on the rule in San Diego onMarch 5 and in Washington,
DC on March
11. In addition, the Board will conduct a public webinar
review the proposal on March 31.

Further information on this rulemaking, including a summary
the rule,
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