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Board Releases New Draft of ICT Rule for Public Comment   December 8, 2011


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 CSUN hearing will be open to the general public, including those who are not registered to attend the conference. 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).