1) Q: What is covered by Section 255?
A: Telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment designed, developed and fabricated after the effective date of the section, including, but not limited to, telephones, pagers, fax machines, computers with modems, etc.
2) Q: When did section 255 take effect?
A: Section 255 took effect February 8, 1996, when the Act was signed.
3) Q: Who is covered by section 255?
A: Manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment.
4) Q: What is a manufacturer?
A: A manufacturer is the company that sells to the public or to vendors that sell to the public; a final assembler; the company whose name appears on the product.
5) Q: What are manufacturers required to do?
A: Manufacturers must ensure that such equipment is accessible and usable, if it is readily achievable. If accessibility is not readily achievable, the manufacturer must make the equipment compatible with peripheral devices used by people with disabilities, if that is readily achievable.
6) Q: How will the requirements be enforced?
A: Complaints can be filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has sole jurisdiction over enforcement; there is no "private right of action."
7) Q: What does "readily achievable" mean?
A: Readily achievable has the same meaning as in the ADA: easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.
8) Q: Who decides whether something is readily achievable?
A: The manufacturer, based on the cost and its resources.
9) Q: How will a manufacturer know whether a product is accessible, usable or compatible?
A: Section 255(e) required the Access Board to issue guidelines setting forth criteria for accessibility and compatibility. The final guidelines were issued February 3, 1998, and became effective March 5, 1998.
10) Q: What do the guidelines address?
A: The guidelines specify that manufacturers must develop a process for ensuring that accessibility and usability are considered in the earliest product design phases and provide information on how to use the product that is usable by persons with disabilities. A set of functional criteria is provided and an appendix with useful strategies for incorporation of accessibility.