Laws Concerning the Access Board

Several different laws shape the the work of the Board and its mission:

  President Bush signing the ADA into law

President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA (1990) is a major civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in the private and state and local government sectors. The ADA requires access to programs and services, transportation, the built environment, employment, and communication. Under the ADA, the Board develops and maintains accessibility guidelines for the construction and alteration of facilities covered by the law, as well as guidelines for the design of transportation vehicles. These guidelines serve as the basis of standards used by other agencies to enforce the ADA's design requirements.

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
The ABA (1968), one of the earliest measures by Congress to address access to the built environment, requires facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds to be accessible according to established standards. Under the ABA, the Board maintains accessibility guidelines upon which the ABA standards are based and enforces these standards through the investigation of complaints.

The Rehabilitation Act
The Rehabilitation Act (1973) requires access to programs and activities that are funded by Federal agencies and to Federal employment. The law also established the Access Board (section 502). Later amendments of the law further extended the Board's mission. Requirements for access to electronic and information technology in the Federal sector (Section 508) were strengthened in 1998, and the Board was authorized to develop and maintain accessibility standards for such technology. With passage the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, a new provision (section 510) was added to the law addressing access to medical diagnostic equipment. This latest amendment tasks the Board with developing and maintaining access standards for medical diagnostic equipment.

The Telecommunications Act
The Telecommunications Act (1996) overhauled regulation of the telecommunications industry. Section 255 of the law requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible according to guidelines established by the Board and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission.