As part of program of seminars to recognize the ADA's 15th anniversary, the Board held a public forum on its agenda and services. The event allowed the public to make recommendations to the Board on topics or issues that should be addressed in its work writing guidelines and standards or sponsoring research. The Board also welcomed suggestions for new guidance and training materials and how this information and related services can be delivered most effectively to its various audiences, particularly through its website. "As the Board looks toward the next decade," Board Member James R. Harding, II Ed.D., noted in welcoming remarks, "we want to know if there are new accessibility challenges you think we need to address."
The feedback received at this forum, which attracted a wide auidence, touched a variety topics, including information technology, indoor environmental quality, communication access, mobility access, and guidance materials, among others.
Accessible information technology was a popular subject. It was recommended that the Board take an active role in coordinating its work on access to electronic and information technology with international organizations, such as the European Union, in order to advance global harmonization and standardization. The goal of this effort, it was suggested, should be to make the standards the Board developed under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act a “global market catalyst” for international coordination. In addition, it was recommended that the Board address new or convergent types of technologies through its 508 standards and to harmonize them with guidelines for websites developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Participants urged the Board to undertake actions to help improve the quality of indoor environments, particularly for those who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) or electromagnetic sensitivities (EMS). Attention was called to a newly released report from a study the Board sponsored on strategies for improving indoor environmental quality. This project was conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). David Harris, President of NIBS, offered suggestions for implementing recommendations from the study. Other comments called upon the Board to develop standards in this area.
A number of comments addressed communication access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Concerns were raised about the effectiveness of visual fire alarms in sleeping rooms, accessible carbon monoxide detectors, and the need to address other types of alarms, such as tornado warnings, that may convey warnings or instructions that do not involve evacuation. Other issues noted included access to public address system information, including life safety instructions, and two-way communication systems, such as those at drive-though windows.
In addition, recommendations were received on ways to improve access for people with vision impairments. These suggestions addressed criteria for tactile informational signs, lighting and sign illumination, barriers or tactile markings to distinguish pedestrian ways through parking lots from vehicle routes, among others. Support was expressed for addressing detectable warnings and audible pedestrian signals in the Board’s rulemaking on public rights-of-ways.
The Board also received feedback on other topics and specific suggestions for guidance materials, research projects, training, outreach, and web-based services. (See detailed list below).
In additon to the Board's forum, there were five other sessions addressing different aspects of the ADA. The full program, “The ADA: 15 Years of Making a Difference,” was organized by the National Council on Disability (NCD) in cooperation with various Federal agencies.
Videos of the Board's session and other programs and events are available at www.at508.com/events. Further information is also available on NCD's website at www.ncd.gov.
It is my distinct honor to welcome you to this workshop on this, the 15th anniversary of the ADA. This workshop is aptly titled “15 Years of Making a Difference in Accessibility.” Indeed, the Access Board is very proud of our accomplishments over the last fifteen years. After the ADA was signed into law, members and staff of the Access Board joined together to craft the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines -- or ADAAG as it’s come to be known. Within one year the Access Board, working with other federal agencies, had issued ADAAG. Since that time, the Access Board has worked to improve our accessibility guidelines in such areas as recreation, public rights-of-way, passenger vessels, and play areas. And last summer the Access Board published a new version of ADAAG. These guidelines update access requirements for a wide range of facilities in the public and private sectors covered by the law.
But this session is not about the Board’s past accomplishments. In this session, the Access Board wants to hear from you. As the Board looks toward the next decade, we want to know if there are new accessibility challenges you think we need to address. For example, what new guidelines or standards may be needed? What existing ones need to be changed? Are there new areas of research which the Board should pursue? What new training and technical assistance materials would be helpful? Are there information and communication issues which the Board should address? These are the types of issues we’d like to hear from you today.
This is an open forum and we encourage anyone who wants to give their views to do so.
James R. (“J.R.”) Harding, II Ed.D. of Tallahassee, Florida, is employed by the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as a Partnership Specialist for the Office of the Director. Dr. Harding is active in a variety of organizations and causes, including the Governor's ADA Working Group, the Florida Building Commission Waiver Council, the Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged, the Citizens' Advisory Council of Leon County, and he is also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce. He received a doctorate in higher education from Florida State University (FSU) in 1999. President Bush appointed Dr. Harding to the Board in 2002.
Section 508 and Information Technology
Indoor Environmental Quality
Technical Assistance, Training, and Research