The Board is organizing an advisory committee to assist in the update of its access standards for electronic and information technology and its guidelines for telecommunications products. This committee will review these standards and guidelines and provide recommendations to the Board on how they should be updated. The Board is seeking representatives from interested organizations and agencies to serve on the committee.
This committee will provide a collaborative forum for various interests and stakeholders to provide substantive and detailed input on the new standards and guidelines. In particular, the committee will be responsible for preparing recommendations to the Board on coverage of products and technologies, including new or convergent types, solutions to identified access barriers, the content of new or revised specifications and criteria, and their harmonization with comparable international efforts in this area.
The committee’s recommendations will be used to revise standards for electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies that were issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Published by the Board in December 2000, these standards cover computer hardware and software, websites, phone systems, fax machines, copiers, and similar technologies. While limited to technologies procured by the Federal government, the standards have had a broader impact by promoting product accessibility beyond this market.
The committee also will advise the Board on updating the guidelines issued under the Telecommunications Act. These guidelines cover access to products designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S. and are not limited to those procured by the Federal government. Provisions in the Section 508 standards for telecommunications products are based on these earlier guidelines. For this reason, the Board plans to update both documents jointly.
The continuously evolving nature of the technologies covered make periodic review and update essential in keeping accessibility criteria current. This effort marks the first update of the 508 standards and the Telecommunications Act guidelines. As part of this update, the Board will seek to coordinate its work with international counterparts, such as the European Union, to further advance global harmonization and standardization.
Advisory committees have become a standard feature of the Board’s rulemaking process and were used in developing the initial 508 standards and the Telecommunications Act guidelines. The Board structures committees to represent a broad, yet balanced range of interests and experts. For this new committee, the Board is seeking representation from the telecommunications and electronic and information technology industry, disability groups, Federal agencies, and others with an interest in the issues to be explored.
Instructions for submitting applications are included in a notice published in the Federal Register. The deadline is May 18, 2006.
For further information, contact Tim Creagan, the Board’s Section 508 Access Specialist at email@example.com (e-mail), (202) 272-0016 (voice), or (202) 272-0081 (TTY).