[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 63 (Friday, March 31, 2000)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 17346-17367]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-7719]



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Part II





Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board





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36 CFR Part 1194



Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards; Proposed 
Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 65, No. 63 / Friday, March 31, 2000 / 
Proposed Rules

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ARCHITECTURAL AND TRANSPORTATION BARRIERS COMPLIANCE BOARD

36 CFR Part 1194

[Docket No. 2000-01]
RIN 3014-AA25


Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards

AGENCY: Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board 
(Access Board) proposes accessibility standards for electronic and 
information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act 
Amendments of 1998. Section 508 requires the Access Board to publish 
standards setting forth a definition of electronic and information 
technology and the technical and functional performance criteria 
necessary for accessibility for such technology. Section 508 requires 
that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use 
electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the 
electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with 
disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is 
comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal 
employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue 
burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that 
individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking 
information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use 
of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the 
public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue 
burden would be imposed on the agency.

DATES: Comments should be received by May 30, 2000; however, late 
comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to the Office of Technical and 
Information Services, Architectural and Transportation Barriers 
Compliance Board, 1331 F Street NW., suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-
1111. Comments sent by e-mail will be considered only if they include 
the full name and address of the sender in the text. E-mail comments 
should be sent to section508nprm@access-board.gov. Comments will be 
available for inspection at the above address from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 
p.m. on regular business days.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Doug Wakefield, Office of Technical 
and Information Services, Architectural and Transportation Barriers 
Compliance Board, 1331 F Street, NW., suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-
1111. Telephone number (202) 272-5434 extension 139 (voice); (202) 272-
5449 (TTY). Electronic mail address: wakefield@access-board.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Availability of Copies and Electronic Access

    Single copies of this publication may be obtained at no cost by 
calling the Access Board's automated publications order line (202) 272-
5434, by pressing 2 on the telephone keypad, then 1, and requesting 
publication S-38 (Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility 
Standards Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). Persons using a TTY should 
call (202) 272-5449. Please record a name, address, telephone number 
and request publication S-38. This document is available in alternate 
formats upon request. Persons who want a copy in an alternate format 
should specify the type of format (cassette tape, Braille, large print, 
or ASCII disk). This document is also available on the Board's Internet 
site (http://www.access-board.gov/rules/508nprm.htm).
    This proposed rule is based on recommendations of the Board's 
Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee. The 
report is available on the Board's Internet site (http://www.access-
board.gov/pubs/eitaacrpt.htm).

Background

    On August 7, 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce 
Investment Act of 1998, which includes the Rehabilitation Act 
Amendments of 1998. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments 
requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use 
electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the 
electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with 
disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is 
comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal 
employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue 
burden would be imposed on the agency.\1\ Section 508 also requires 
that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public 
seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to 
and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to 
the public who are not individuals with disabilities.
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    \1\ Section 508 does not apply to national security systems, as 
that term is defined in section 5142 of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 
1996 (40 U.S.C. 1452).
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    Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986. 
It required the Secretary of Education and the Administrator of the 
General Services Administration to develop and establish guidelines for 
Federal agencies for electronic and information technology 
accessibility and required that such guidelines be revised, as 
necessary, to reflect technological advances or changes.\2\ Section 508 
also required each Federal agency to comply with the guidelines. 
However, there was no enforcement mechanism to provide for compliance. 
The changes to section 508 contained in the Rehabilitation Act 
Amendments of 1998 were designed to strengthen the previous law.
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    \2\ In October 1987, the Department of Education and the General 
Services Administration (GSA) issued section 508 guidelines which 
addressed management responsibilities and functional performance 
specifications for input, output, and documentation access to 
electronic equipment. On January 1, 1991, after receiving further 
comment from agencies, vendors, and individuals with disabilities, 
the GSA issued Bulletin C-8 containing these guidelines as amended, 
in the Federal Information Resources Management Regulations (FIRMR). 
In 1996 the FIRMR was eliminated.
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Access Board Responsibilities

    Section 508(a)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 
requires the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board 
(Access Board) \3\ to publish standards setting forth a definition of 
electronic and information technology and the technical and functional 
performance criteria necessary for accessibility for such technology. 
If an agency determines that meeting these standards, when procuring 
electronic and information technology, imposes an undue burden, it must 
explain why meeting these standards creates an undue burden.
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    \3\ The Access Board is an independent Federal agency 
established by section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 792) 
whose primary mission is to promote accessibility for individuals 
with disabilities. The Access Board consists of 25 members. Thirteen 
are appointed by the President from among the public, a majority of 
who are required to be individuals with disabilities. The other 
twelve are heads of the following Federal agencies or their 
designees whose positions are Executive Level IV or above: The 
departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, 
Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Interior, Defense, Justice, 
Veterans Affairs, and Commerce; the General Services Administration; 
and the United States Postal Service.
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    The definition of electronic and information technology is required 
to be

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consistent with the definition of information technology in section 
5002(3) of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.\4\ (40 U.S.C. 1401(3)). 
Information technology under that law means ``any equipment or 
interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the 
automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, 
control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of 
data or information'' by a Federal agency.
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    \4\ The Clinger-Cohen Act was designed to ensure consistency 
across Federal agencies in the acquisition, use, and disposal of 
information technology. It requires each Executive agency to 
establish a process to select, manage, and evaluate the results of 
their information technology investments; report annually to 
Congress on progress made toward agency goals; and link information 
technology performance measures to agency programs.
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    In developing its standards, the Access Board is required to 
consult with various Federal agencies,\5\ the electronic and 
information technology industry, and appropriate public or nonprofit 
agencies or organizations, including organizations representing 
individuals with disabilities. The Access Board is also required to 
periodically review and, as appropriate, amend the standards to reflect 
technological advances or changes in electronic and information 
technology. The General Services Administration and the Access Board 
are required to provide technical assistance to individuals and Federal 
agencies concerning the requirements of section 508.
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    \5\ The Access Board is required to consult with the Secretary 
of Education, the Administrator of General Services, the Secretary 
of Commerce, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, 
the Secretary of Defense, and the head of any other Federal agency 
that the Access Board determines to be appropriate.
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Other Section 508 Requirements

    The Access Board was required to publish standards by February 7, 
2000. For several reasons, the Board has not met that statutory 
deadline. Because the Board was required to consult with various 
affected interests, it created a Federal advisory committee. The 
advisory committee met from October 1998 through May 1999. Since then, 
the Board has met through an ad hoc group consisting of several Board 
members and Federal agency representatives to review the committee's 
recommendations and develop the proposed rule. Additionally, the Board 
contracted to prepare the regulatory assessment for the proposed rule. 
After the Board submitted the proposed rule to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) for review under Executive Order 12866, OMB 
distributed the proposed rule twice to the Chief Information Officers 
for review and comment. The Board has also been coordinating its 
efforts with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council. Section 
508(a)(3) provides that within six months after the Board publishes its 
standards, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is required to 
revise the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and each Federal agency is 
required to revise the Federal procurement policies and directives 
under its control to incorporate the Board's standards.\6\ The Board 
expects that the final standards and the revised Federal Acquisition 
Regulation will be issued at the same time.
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    \6\ Whenever the Access Board revises its standards, the Council 
is required to revise the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and each 
appropriate Federal agency is required to revise its procurement 
policies and directives within six months to incorporate the 
revisions.
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    Because of the delay in publishing the standards, the Board is 
considering making the standards effective six months after publication 
in the Federal Register. The Board believes that this action will 
provide Federal agencies with an opportunity to more fully understand 
these new requirements and will allow manufacturers of electronic and 
information technology time to ensure that their products comply with 
the standards. The Board also believes that this action is consistent 
with the Congressional intent underlying section 508. As discussed 
above, Congress provided a six month period between the publication of 
the Board's standards and the incorporation of the standards in the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation. This six month period would have 
allowed Federal agencies to understand the standards and manufacturers 
time to ensure that their products would be accessible.
    Question 1: The Board seeks comment on the advisability of making 
the standards effective six months after publication in the Federal 
Register. This action would not affect the right of individuals with 
disabilities to file complaints for electronic and information 
technology procured after August 7, 2000 since that right is 
established by the statute.
    Section 508(a)(4) provides that if a Federal agency determines that 
compliance with the standards imposes an undue burden, any 
documentation by the agency supporting a procurement shall explain why 
compliance creates an undue burden. Additionally, when it is determined 
that compliance with the standards imposes an undue burden, the Federal 
agency shall provide individuals with disabilities with the information 
and data involved by an alternative means of access that allows the 
individual to use the information and data.\7\
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    \7\ Section 508(a)(1)(B).
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    Section 508(a)(6)(A) states that when the Federal government 
provides access to the public to information or data through electronic 
and information technology, a Federal agency is not required to make 
equipment available or to purchase equipment at a location other than 
that where the electronic and information technology is provided to the 
public. Also, specific accessibility-related software or the attachment 
of specific accessibility-related peripheral devices are not required 
to be installed at workstations of Federal employees without 
disabilities.\8\
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    \8\ Section 508(a)(6)(B).
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    Section 508(c) provides that by February 7, 1999, each Federal 
agency shall evaluate the extent to which the electronic and 
information technology of the agency is accessible to and usable by 
individuals with disabilities and submit a report containing the 
evaluation to the Attorney General.
    Section 508(d) provides that by February 7, 2000, the Attorney 
General shall prepare and submit to the President a report containing 
information on and recommendations regarding the extent to which the 
electronic and information technology of the Federal government is 
accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.\9\ By August 
7, 2001, and every two years thereafter, the Attorney General shall 
submit to the President and Congress a report containing information on 
and recommendations regarding the state of Federal agency compliance 
with the requirements of section 508, including actions regarding 
individual complaints.
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    \9\ On April 2, 1999, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released 
its self-evaluation materials for section 508. The self-evaluations 
were required to be submitted to the DOJ by June 15, 1999. The final 
report was not available prior to the publication of this proposed 
rule. It will be available through the Department of Justice Section 
508 Home Page (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/508home.html).
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    Section 508(f) provides that beginning August 7, 2000, any 
individual with a disability may file a complaint alleging that a 
Federal agency fails to comply with section 508 in providing accessible 
electronic and information technology.\10\ Complaints shall be filed 
with the Federal agency alleged to be in noncompliance. The Federal 
agency receiving the complaint shall apply the complaint procedures 
established to implement section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for 
resolving

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allegations of discrimination in a federally conducted program or 
activity. Under section 504, individuals may also sue an agency in 
Federal court to correct an alleged violation.
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    \10\ This provision applies only to electronic and information 
technology that is procured by a Federal agency on or after August 
7, 2000.
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Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee

    This proposed rule is based on recommendations of the Electronic 
and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (Committee or 
EITAAC). The Committee was convened by the Access Board in September 
1998 to assist the Board in fulfilling its mandate under section 508.
    On September 29, 1998, the Access Board published a notice 
appointing members to the Committee. 63 FR 51891 (September 29, 1998). 
Between October 1998 and May 1999, the Committee held 6 meetings, each 
of two working days in length, during which members worked to develop 
recommendations for implementing requirements under section 508. In 
selecting members of the Committee, the Access Board sought to ensure 
representation from all parties interested in the promulgation of 
electronic and information technology accessibility standards. The 
Committee was composed of representatives of the electronic and 
information technology industry; organizations representing the access 
needs of individuals with disabilities; and other persons affected by 
accessibility standards for electronic and information technology. 
Representatives of Federal agencies, including the departments of 
Commerce, Defense, Education, Justice, Veterans Affairs, the Federal 
Communications Commission, and the General Services Administration, 
served as ex-officio members or observers of the Committee. The 
following organizations served on the Committee:

American Council of the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind
Arkenstone, Inc.
Association of Access Engineering Specialists
Association of Tech Act Projects
Compaq
Easter Seals
Electronic Industries Alliance
FutureForms
Georgia Institute of Technology
IBM Special Needs Center
Information Technology Industries Council
Meeting the Challenge, Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
NCR Corporation
National Association of the Deaf
National Federation of the Blind
National Industries for the Blind
National Science Foundation
Pitney Bowes
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc.
Sun Microsystems
Trace Research and Development Center
United Cerebral Palsy Associations
WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
WebABLE! Solutions
World Wide Web Consortium, Web Accessibility Initiative

    Each organization selected a principal member and an alternate. The 
Committee formed several subcommittees and task groups in which 
alternates and nonmembers were invited to participate. As a result, the 
actual group which developed the recommendations was broader than the 
formal membership. The result of the Committee's work was a report 
containing recommendations to the Access Board for implementing section 
508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The Committee 
presented its report to the Board on May 12, 1999. This proposed rule 
is based primarily on the recommendations of chapters three 
``Definitions'', four ``Section 508 Implementation'', and five 
``Proposed Standards'' of the Committee report.

Section-by-Section Analysis

    This section of the preamble contains a concise summary of the rule 
which the Access Board is proposing. The text of the proposed rule 
follows this section.

Subpart A--General

Section 1194.1  Purpose
    This section describes the purpose of the standards which is to 
implement section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The 
goal of section 508 is to introduce accessibility features into 
mainstream electronic and information technology products purchased by 
the Federal government to reduce the need for individual, customized 
accommodations and to make those accommodations which are still needed 
more efficient and easier to implement.
Section 1194.2  Application
    This section specifies what electronic and information technology 
is covered by the standards. Paragraph (a) states the general statutory 
requirement for electronic and information technology that must comply 
with the standards unless doing so would result in an undue burden. The 
term ``undue burden'' is defined at 1194.4, Definitions, and is 
discussed in the preamble under that section.
    By statute, the enforcement provisions of section 508 apply only to 
products procured on or after August 7, 2000. (See section 
508(f)(1)(B)). As a result, Section 508 does not authorize complaints 
or lawsuits to retrofit electronic and information technology products 
procured prior to August 7, 2000 to meet these standards. See a further 
discussion of the application of these standards to web sites 
maintained, developed, used or procured by the Federal government under 
1194.23(c).
    Paragraph (a)(1) states the statutory obligation of a Federal 
agency to make the information and data available by an alternative 
means when complying with the standards would result in an undue 
burden. For example, a Federal agency wishes to purchase a computer 
program that generates maps denoting regional demographics. If the 
agency determines that it would constitute an undue burden to purchase 
an accessible version of such a program, the agency would be required 
to make the information provided by the program available in an 
alternative means to users with disabilities. In addition, the 
requirements to make reasonable accommodations for the needs of an 
employee with a disability and to provide overall program accessibility 
under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also apply.
    Paragraph (a)(2) sets forth the statutory requirement for an agency 
to document any claim of undue burden in a procurement. Such 
documentation must explain in detail which provision or provisions of 
this rule imposes an undue burden and the extent of such a burden. The 
agency should discuss each of the factors elaborated below which are to 
be considered an undue burden. By statute, the requirement to document 
an undue burden applies only to procurements.
    Paragraph (b) applies this rule to electronic and information 
technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by an agency 
directly or used by a contractor pursuant to a contract with an agency. 
Consistent with section 5002(3)(C) of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 
U.S.C. 1452) and as further discussed in 1194.3(b) below, products used 
by a contractor which are incidental to a contract are not covered by 
this rule. For example, a Federal agency enters into a contract to have 
a web site developed for the agency. The contractor uses its own office 
system to develop the web site. The web site is required to comply with 
this rule, however, the contractor's office system does not have to 
comply with these standards.
    Paragraph (c) clarifies that procurement of products complying with 
this part is subject to commercial

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availability. That is, an agency is not expected to procure products 
that have not been developed. Documentation of an undue burden is not 
required in this case. This section also applies the provisions of this 
part to products that will be available in time to meet delivery 
requirements, or are developed by or on behalf of the government. This 
is based on existing provisions in the Federal Acquisition Regulations 
(see 48 CFR 2.101, Definitions of Words and Terms: Commercial item, 
paragraph (b)). For example, an agency may be planning a major software 
upgrade to be installed in the next year. If advances in technology or 
performance will be available to render the software compliant in time 
to meet the installation requirement, the product will be considered 
commercially available, despite the fact that a compliant version was 
not available at the time of the original solicitation. Of course, 
products developed in response to a Government solicitation are 
expected to be fully compliant.
    The determination of commercial availability is to be applied on a 
provision by provision basis. That is, each provision is judged 
independently. Agencies cannot claim a product as a whole is not 
commercially available because it fails to meet some of the applicable 
provisions of these standards. It must still meet those provisions that 
are commercially available.
    For example, some pagers may be available with a vibrating alert, 
but no model has voice output. A Federal agency would still be required 
to purchase the model with the vibrator even though a model with all 
the features necessary for accessibility may not exist. Similarly, if a 
software program that meets all of the provisions of 1194.23(b) is not 
available, but one that meets most of the provisions is (e.g., it does 
not provide 8 foreground and 8 background colors), the agency must 
purchase that product that meets most of the applicable software 
provisions. The software program as a whole is not excused from the 
standards because a program meeting all of the provisions is not 
commercially available.
    Paragraph (d) explains how each section of this rule is to be 
applied. In general, the requirements in 1194.21, 1194.23 and 1194.25 
are assumed to satisfy the functional performance criteria in 1194.27. 
Therefore, when evaluating the compliance of any product, first look to 
compliance with 1194.21, 1194.23 and 1194.25, then apply the 
performance criteria in 1194.27 to elements or technologies not covered 
in those sections and to the overall product functions. Where there is 
overlap, the specific provisions in 1194.21, 1194.23 and 1194.25 
prevail over the general provisions in 1194.27.
    In developing these standards, the Board considered the issue of 
when accessibility features must be built-in and when the product need 
only be compatible, that is, have the ability to add on assistive 
technology or accessible features in the future as needed. Because the 
goal of section 508 is to introduce accessibility features into 
mainstream electronic and information technology, the proposed 
standards require that the accessibility features be built-in where 
reasonable and appropriate given the nature of the product and its 
intended use. For example, the standards require that the accessibility 
features be built-in for information kiosks because the public cannot 
be expected to attach an assistive technology device each time the 
kiosk is used. Because copy machines seldom allow for the loading of 
special software or the attachment of accessibility related 
peripherals, the standards require that the accessible features be 
built-in.
    In general, where accessibility features are not built-in, the 
standards require that the system be compatible to make those 
accommodations which are still needed more efficient and easier to 
implement. For example, workstations are subject to the statutory 
exception that assistive technology devices are not required at 
workstations of persons without a disability. The standards require 
that these systems be compatible with the addition of assistive 
technology on an as needed basis.
    The following paragraphs delineate those provisions where 
accessibility features are required to be built-in and those which 
permit compatibility in lieu of built-in features.
    Section 1194.21 contains general requirements to be applied to all 
products, regardless of the specific technology involved. For example, 
the prohibition on using color coding exclusively is applicable to 
kiosks, web pages, copiers, software applications, or any other product 
that controls a visual display. The requirements in section 1194.21 
pertain to built-in features.
    Section 1194.23 provides requirements for specific components, such 
as keypads, software, web applications, and telecommunications. All but 
the simplest products will likely have more than one component and the 
requirements in section 1194.23 are to be applied to each component. 
For example, the keypad of a single line telephone can generally be 
made accessible to a person with a visual impairment by having a 
standard key layout and placing a nib on the five key. The keypad of a 
multi-line telephone can be made accessible in a similar fashion but 
the telephone may have visual indicators for availability of different 
lines and hold status. Each component for which there is a specific 
provision must be evaluated for compliance with this section.
    The requirements in 1194.23(a), (d)(6)-(9), (e) and (f) are written 
to ensure built-in accessibility of keyboard, keypads and other 
mechanically operated controls, telecommunications equipment and 
information kiosks. The requirements in 1194.23(b), (c) and (d)(1)-(5) 
will ensure that software applications, web pages and certain 
telecommunications features are compatible with assistive technology.
    Section 1194.25 provides requirements for compatibility of products 
with assistive technology commonly used by individuals with 
disabilities. Since any specific product cannot necessarily be made 
accessible to all disabilities, it must be able to accommodate 
assistive technology. For example, all computers are not expected to be 
equipped with a refreshable Braille display, but they are expected to 
be compatible with such equipment. Assistive technology may be part of 
a reasonable accommodation required by section 501 or section 504 of 
the Rehabilitation Act in response to a request made by a person with a 
disability.
    Section 1194.27 provides functional performance criteria for 
overall product evaluation and for technologies or components for which 
there is no specific requirement under other sections. As in the 
example of the multi-line telephone discussed above, the keypad has 
specific requirements under section 1194.23, but the other functions, 
such as line availability or status, must be evaluated by applying the 
performance criteria. These criteria are also intended to ensure that 
the individual accessible components work together to create an 
accessible product. Section 1194.27(a), (b), (c) and (e) allow for the 
support of assistive technology to satisfy the criteria, whereas 
section 1194.27 (d) and (f) are functions that must be built into a 
product.
    Finally, section 1194.31 provides requirements for information, 
documentation, and support. Products may meet all of the technical 
requirements of this part, but will not be usable to a person with a 
disability if information about the accessible features or how to use 
them is not available in a format the individual can use. Obviously, 
the format is critical to

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usability, since providing Braille to a person who does not read 
Braille is worthless, as is providing enhanced audio to a person who is 
deaf and does not rely on any residual hearing.
Section 1194.3  General Exceptions
    This section provides general exceptions from the standards. 
Paragraph (a) provides an exception for telecommunications or 
information systems operated by agencies, the function, operation, or 
use of which involves intelligence activities, cryptologic activities 
related to national security, command and control of military forces, 
equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system, or 
systems which are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or 
intelligence missions. This exception is statutory under section 508 
and is consistent with a similar exception in section 5142 of the 
Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 U.S.C. 1452). This exception does not 
apply to a system that is to be used for routine administrative and 
business applications (including payroll, finance, logistics, and 
personnel management applications). For example, software used for 
payroll, word processing software used for production of routine 
documents, ordinary telephones, copiers, fax machines, and web 
applications must still comply with the standards even if they are 
developed, procured, maintained, or used by an agency engaged in 
intelligence or military activities. On the other hand, a computer 
designed to provide early missile launch detection would not be subject 
to these standards.
    Paragraph (b) provides an exception for electronic and information 
technology that is acquired by a contractor incidental to a Federal 
contract. That is, the products a contractor develops, procures, 
maintains, or uses which are not specified as part of a contract with a 
Federal agency are not required to comply with this part. For example, 
a consulting firm that enters into a contract with a Federal agency to 
produce a report is not required to procure accessible computers and 
word processing software to produce the report regardless of whether 
those products were used exclusively for the government contract or 
used on both government and non-government related activities. On the 
other hand, if such products were specified as contract deliverables 
(i.e., they would become government property at the end of the 
contract) or if a Federal agency purchased the products to be used by 
the contractor as part of the project, those products would have to 
meet the standards. Similarly, if a firm is contracted to develop a web 
site for a Federal agency, the web site created must be fully compliant 
with this part, but the firm's own web site would not be covered. This 
exception is consistent with a similar exception in section 5002(3)(C) 
of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 U.S.C. 1452).
    Paragraph (c) clarifies that, except as required to comply with 
these standards, this part does not require the installation of 
specific accessibility-related software or the attachment of an 
assistive technology device at a workstation of a Federal employee who 
is not an individual with a disability. Specific accessibility related 
software means software which has the sole function of increasing 
accessibility for persons with disabilities to other software programs 
(e.g., screen magnification software). The purpose of section 508 and 
these standards is to build as much accessibility as is reasonably 
possible into general products developed, procured, maintained, or used 
by agencies. However, it is not expected that every computer will be 
equipped with a refreshable Braille display, or that every software 
program will have a built-in screen reader. Such assistive technology 
may be required as part of a reasonable accommodation for an employee 
with a disability or to provide program accessibility. To the extent 
that such technology is necessary, products covered by this part must 
not interfere with the operation of the assistive technology.
    Paragraph (d) specifies that when agencies provide access to 
information or data to the public through electronic and information 
technology, agencies are not required to make equipment owned by the 
agency available for access and use by individuals with disabilities at 
a location other than that where the electronic and information 
technology is provided to the public, or to purchase equipment for 
access and use by individuals with disabilities at a location other 
than that where the electronic and information technology is provided 
to the public. For example, if an agency provides an information kiosk 
in a Post Office, a means to access the kiosk information for a person 
with a disability need not be provided in any location other than at 
the kiosk itself.
    Paragraph (e) states that compliance with this part does not 
require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a product or its 
components. Fundamental alteration means a change in the fundamental 
characteristic of the product, not merely a cosmetic or aesthetic 
change. For example, an agency intends to procure pocket-sized pagers 
for their field agents. Adding a large display to a small pager may 
fundamentally alter the device by significantly changing its size to 
such an extent that it no longer meets the purpose for which it was 
intended, that is to fit in a shirt or jacket pocket.
Section 1194.4  Definitions
    Accessible: The term accessible is defined in terms of compliance 
with the standards in this part, as is common with other accessibility 
standards. That is, if a product complies with the standards in this 
part, it is accessible; if it does not comply, it is not accessible.
    Agency: Section 508 applies to any Federal department or agency, 
including the United States Postal Service (section 508(a)(1)(A)). The 
term ``agency'' as used in this rule includes all of these 
entities.\11\
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    \11\ A government depository library is not considered a Federal 
agency.
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    Alternate Formats and Alternate Modes: These terms are given the 
same meaning here as in the Board's Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines (36 CFR part 1193). Certain product 
information is required to be made available in alternate formats to be 
usable by individuals with various disabilities. Common forms of 
alternate formats are Braille, large print, ASCII text, and audio 
cassettes. Alternate modes are different means of providing information 
to users of products including product documentation and information 
about the status or operation of controls. For example, if product 
instructions are provided on a video cassette, captioning would be 
required.
    Assistive Technology: Assistive technology means any item, piece of 
equipment, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or 
customized, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve 
functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. The 
definition is derived from a definition of assistive technology in the 
Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.).
    Examples of assistive technology include, but are not limited to, 
(1) Screen readers which allow persons who cannot see a visual display 
to either hear screen content or read the content in Braille; (2) a 
specialized one-handed keyboard which allows an individual to operate a 
computer with only one hand; and (3) specialized audio amplifiers that 
allow persons with limited hearing to receive an enhanced audio signal.

[[Page 17351]]

    Electronic and Information Technology: This is the statutory term 
for the products intended to be covered by the standards in this part. 
The statute explicitly required the Board to define this term, and 
required that the definition be consistent with the definition of 
``information technology'' in the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 U.S.C. 
1401(3)). Therefore, this definition includes information technology as 
defined by that Act, as well as any equipment or interconnected system 
or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or 
duplication of data or information.
    Electronic and information technology includes, but is not limited 
to, telecommunications products (such as telephones), information 
kiosks and transaction machines, web sites, multimedia, and office 
equipment such as copiers and fax machines. Consistent with the Federal 
Acquisition Regulations,\12\ electronic and information technology does 
not include any equipment that contains imbedded information technology 
that is used as an integral part of the product, but the principal 
function of which is not the acquisition, storage, manipulation, 
management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, 
transmission, or reception of data or information. For example, HVAC 
(heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment such as 
thermostats or temperature control devices, and medical equipment where 
information technology is integral to its operation, are not 
information technology.
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    \12\ 48 CFR Chapter 1, part 2, section 2.101 Definitions 
Information Technology (c).
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    Information Technology: The definition of information technology is 
the same as the definition of information technology in section 5002(3) 
of the Clinger-Cohen Act. Information technology includes computers, 
ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, 
services (including support services), and related resources.
    Operable Controls: Operable controls are those components of a 
product that require manipulation or contact for operation of the 
device. Controls include on/off switches, buttons, dials and knobs, 
mice, keypads and other input devices, copier paper trays (both for 
inserting paper to be copied and retrieving finished copies), coin and 
card slots, card readers, and similar components. Operable controls do 
not include voice-operated controls.
    Product: Product is used as a shorthand for electronic and 
information technology throughout this part.
    TTY: The term TTY is defined to be consistent with the Board's ADA 
Accessibility Guidelines (36 CFR part 1191) and Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines.
    Telecommunications: This term is defined consistent with the 
Board's Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 
definition of telecommunications in the Telecommunications Act (47 
U.S.C. 153).
    Undue Burden: The term ``undue burden'' is based on caselaw 
interpreting section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Southeastern 
Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397 (1979)), and has been included 
in agency regulations issued under section 504 since the Davis case. 
See, e.g., 28 CFR 39.150. The term ``undue burden'' is also used in 
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 
12182(b)(2)(A)(iii). The legislative history of the ADA states that the 
term ``undue burden'' is derived from section 504 and the regulations 
thereunder, and is analogous to the term ``undue hardship'' in Title I 
of the ADA, which Congress defined as ``an action requiring significant 
difficulty or expense.'' 42 U.S.C. 12111(10)(A). See, H. Rept. 101-485, 
pt. 2, at 106. The Board has adopted this definition for ``undue 
burden.''
    Title I of the ADA lists factors to be considered in determining 
whether a particular action would result in an undue hardship. 42 
U.S.C. 12111(10)(B)(i)-(iv). Since Title I of the ADA addresses 
employment, not all of the factors are directly applicable to section 
508 except for the financial resources of the covered facility or 
entity. In determining whether a particular action is an undue burden 
under section 508, the rule provides that the resources available to an 
agency or component for which the product is being developed, procured, 
maintained, or used is a factor to be considered. An agency's entire 
budget may not be available for purposes of complying with section 508. 
Many parts of agency budgets are authorized for specific purposes, and/
or are provided as grants to non-Federal entities, and are thus not 
available for other purposes. Because available financial resources 
vary greatly from one agency to another, what constitutes an undue 
burden for a smaller agency may not be an undue burden for another, 
larger agency having more resources to commit to a particular 
procurement. Each procurement would necessarily be determined on a 
case-by-case basis.
    The Board is considering including two additional factors in the 
final rule to determine whether an action is an undue burden.
    Factor (2): An agency may consider the extent to which a product 
meeting the standards is compatible with the agency's or component's 
technology infrastructure, including security, and the difficulty of 
integrating the accessible product. For example, an agency wishes to 
contract with a digital cellular provider in order to provide cellular 
phone service to its employees. The agency's digital cellular network 
is not compatible with TTYs. Since these two products are incompatible 
with each other, it will result in an undue burden. The agency would 
not be prohibited from contracting with the digital provider. However, 
accommodations for TTY users could be made through an analog cellular 
phone, if needed. Should compatibility become feasible over time, this 
no longer would be viewed as an undue burden.
    Factor (3): An agency may also consider the functionality needed 
from the product and the technical difficulty involved in making such a 
product accessible. For example, an agency needs to purchase a computer 
assisted design (CAD) software program. The function of the CAD program 
is to produce visual drawings. Technology is available to produce basic 
tactile images usable by an employee with a visual impairment, but to 
apply this technology to a CAD program would be extraordinarily 
difficult and have limited functionality, making it an undue burden.
    Question 2: The Board seeks comment on whether factors (2) and (3) 
discussed above are appropriate factors for consideration in 
determining whether an action would be an undue burden under these 
standards.
Section 1194.5  Equivalent Facilitation
    This section allows the use of designs or technologies as 
alternatives to those prescribed in this part provided that they result 
in substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of a product 
for people with disabilities. This provision is not a ``waiver'' or 
``variance'' from the requirement to provide accessibility, but a 
recognition that future technologies may be developed, or existing 
technologies could be used in a particular way, that could provide the 
same functional access in ways not envisioned by these standards. In 
evaluating whether a technology results in ``substantially equivalent 
or greater access,'' it is the functional outcome,

[[Page 17352]]

not the form, which is important. For example, an information kiosk 
which is not accessible to a person who is blind might be made 
accessible by having a telephone handset that connects to a computer 
that responds to touch-tone commands and delivers the same information 
audibly.

Subpart B--Accessibility Standards

    This proposed rule is based primarily on the recommendations of 
chapter five of the EITAAC report. The proposed rule rearranges and 
renames sections from the EITAAC report. Although the Board has 
reorganized the committee's recommendations, the Board believes that 
the concepts and most of the committee's recommended requirements have 
been preserved. The generic standards (EITAAC 5.2) are now labeled as 
functional performance criteria (1194.27). The Board made this change 
because it believes this group of specifications are yardsticks to use 
to measure performance as opposed to objective standards. Section 
1194.27 contains the functional performance criteria against which all 
products will be judged. Sections 1194.23 and 1194.25 are the component 
specific and compatibility standards for accessibility. Where the Board 
has not included a recommendation from the committee's report it is 
noted.
Section 1194.21--General Requirements
    The requirements under this section are general, because they do 
not apply to any specific product. For example, the requirements 
relating to displays apply to any display whether on a computer, a 
copier, or information kiosk and transaction machine.
    Question 3: The Board seeks comment on the current organization of 
sections 1194.21 and 1194.23. Other ways of organizing functions may be 
more appropriate. The Board seeks comment on other approaches to 
organizing functions and requirements that might be easier to 
understand and implement.
    Paragraph (a) provides that color coding shall not be used as the 
only means of identifying a visual element. This requirement applies to 
all products, whether web based or free standing office equipment. 
Relying on color as a singular method for identifying screen elements 
or controls poses serious problems, not only for people with limited or 
no vision, but also for those who are color blind. This requirement 
does not prohibit the use of color to help with component 
identification. It does however, require that some other method of 
identification, such as text labels, be combined with the use of color. 
While this provision is consistent with the recommendations of the 
advisory committee, the committee also recommended including a similar 
functional performance requirement. The functional performance 
criterion was not included in the proposed standards as it was 
duplicative of this requirement.
    Paragraph (b) provides provisions for the physical characteristics 
of large office equipment including reach ranges and the general 
physical accessibility of controls and features. A large, free standing 
copier would be an example of a product addressed by this provision. 
This requirement is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee and is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act 
Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG 4.2 Space Allowance and Reach Ranges). 
Two figures are provided to help explain the application of the 
provision.
    Paragraph (c) provides that flashing visual displays and indicators 
shall not exceed a frequency of two Hertz. In 1988, the Board sponsored 
two research projects on visual fire alarms that found that individuals 
with photosensitive epilepsy can have a seizure triggered by displays 
which flicker or flash, particularly if the flash has a high intensity 
and is within certain frequency ranges. This provision limits the 
frequency of flashing visual displays and indicators to avoid 
triggering a seizure in an individual with photosensitive epilepsy. 
This requirement is consistent with the Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (d) provides that where a timed response is required, at 
least one mode which does not require users to respond within a timed 
interval shall be provided; or at least one mode which allows users to 
adjust the response times to at least 5 times the default setting shall 
be provided. Requiring a user to respond within a certain length of 
time is a method commonly used by interactive menu driven systems. If a 
person is calling through a telephone relay service, or has a dexterity 
related disability, entering information such as a social security 
number within a specified time may be difficult or impossible. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Question 4: The Board seeks information on whether a system is 
commercially available that would allow an individual user to adjust 
the response time interval, and if so, whether 5 times the default 
setting is the correct standard. If available, what is the cost of such 
a system? The Board is also interested in comments addressing any 
security concerns raised by this requirement. For example, would the 
security of an information kiosk which allowed individuals to access 
personal information be compromised by allowing for the adjustment of 
the time-out feature?
    Paragraph (e) provides that where biometric forms of user 
identification or activation are used, an alternative form of 
identification or activation, which does not require the user to 
possess particular biological characteristics, shall also be provided. 
Identification by biometric forms such as retina scan, fingerprint or 
palm print are growing in popularity. They are used for building access 
as well as electronic system access. However, such identification 
measures create access problems for some persons with disabilities. For 
example, if a system relies on fingerprint identification for access, a 
person with prosthetic hands would not be able to use the system. As a 
result, the Board is proposing to require that an alternative form of 
identification be provided which does not rely on particular biological 
characteristics. Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, an 
employee who is unable to access a system due to the constraints of a 
biological characteristic may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation 
which would enable him or her to access the system through an 
alternative measure. This provision would require that an alternative 
measure be in place when the system is procured. This requirement is 
consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Question 5: The Board may consider requiring multiple forms of 
biological identification as an alternative to requiring non-biological 
identification in the final rule. Would this be a better solution? What 
would be the cost impact of requiring multiple forms of biological 
identification? Does requiring an alternative mode of identification 
which is not based on biological characteristics lessen security? The 
proposed standards require that an alternative form of identification 
be built-in whenever biometric identification is used. The Board is 
seeking comment on whether the final rule should permit the alternative 
method of identification to be added on at a later date rather than 
built-in at the time of procurement. If so, should compatibility be 
limited to workstations or to all systems that use biometric 
identification?
    Paragraph (f) requires touchscreen and touch-operated controls to 
be

[[Page 17353]]

operable without requiring body contact or close body proximity. This 
requirement addresses the difficulty that individuals who have 
artificial hands or use headsticks or mouthsticks to operate products 
have with capacitive or heat-operated controls which require contact 
with a person's body. Touch-operated is not the same as a control which 
is operated by pushing a button or sliding a switch. Touch-operated 
controls are activated by merely touching them or placing a body part, 
usually a finger, in very close proximity. They often depend on the 
body acting as an electrical conductor which changes the capacitance of 
the switch. In addition, some touch operated controls are designed to 
detect the heat from a finger. In both of these instances, the control 
cannot be activated by a prosthetic limb, a mouthstick, or even a 
gloved hand.
    Alternative access modes which do not require body contact or close 
body proximity may include keypad input and voice input and different 
types of touchscreens or touch-operated controls which do not require 
bodily contact or proximity to operate. This provision is consistent 
with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
Section 1194.23  Component Specific Requirements
    The requirements in the following paragraphs address specific 
components of products. Paragraph (a) applies to mechanically operated 
controls, keyboards or keypads. These provisions address controls which 
require a user to physically manipulate or press a switch, button, or 
knob, to operate a product.
    Paragraph (a)(1) provides that controls and keys shall be tactilely 
discernible without activating the controls or keys. Tactilely 
discernible means that individual keys can be located and distinguished 
from adjacent keys. To comply with this requirement, controls that must 
be touched to activate, must be distinguishable from each other. This 
can be accomplished by using various shapes, spacing, or tactile 
markings. Because touch is necessary to discern tactile features, this 
provision provides that the control should not be activated by mere 
touching. For example, the standard desktop computer keyboard would 
meet this requirement because the tactile mark on the ``j'' and ``f'' 
keys permits a user to locate all other keys tactilely. The geographic 
spacing of the function, ``numpad'' and cursor keys make them easy to 
locate by touch. In addition, most keyboards require some pressure 
before they transmit a keystroke. Conversely, ``capacitance'' keyboards 
that react as soon as they are touched and have no raised marks or 
actual keys would not meet this requirement. A ``membrane'' keypad with 
keys that must be pressed can be made tactilely discernible by 
separating keys with raised ridges so that individual keys can be 
distinguished by touch. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (a)(2) provides that the status of toggle controls such 
as the ``caps lock'' or ``scroll lock'' keys be determined by both 
visual means and by touch or sound. For example, adding audio patterns 
such as ascending and descending pitch tones that indicate when a 
control is turned on or off would alleviate the problem of a person who 
is blind inadvertently pressing the locking or toggle controls. Also, 
buttons which remain depressed when activated or switches with distinct 
positions would meet this provision. This provision is consistent with 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (a)(3) provides that controls shall be accessible to 
persons with limited dexterity. Individuals with tremor, cerebral 
palsy, paralysis, arthritis, or artificial hands may have difficulty 
operating systems which require fine motor control, assume a steady 
hand, or require two hands or fingers to be used simultaneously for 
operation. Individuals with high spinal cord injuries, arthritis, and 
other conditions may have difficulty operating controls which require 
significant strength. The provision limits the force required to five 
pounds and is based on section 4.27.4 of the ADA Accessibility 
Guidelines and is consistent with the Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (a)(4) provides that access to all program functions 
shall be available through keyboard or keypad commands. Keyboard or 
keypad commands provide a viable alternative for those who cannot use a 
pointing device or touchscreen. This provision does not require that 
every product have a keyboard. It requires that where a keyboard or 
keypad is provided, the program functions shall be available through 
keyboard or keypad commands. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (a)(5) establishes requirements for key repeat rate where 
an adjustable keyboard repeat rate is supported. It requires that the 
keyboard delay before repeat shall be adjustable to at least two 
seconds per character. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended three provisions that the 
Board has not included in this proposed rule. The committee recommended 
that assigned keyboard access (e.g., Ctrl+P for Print, Escape for 
cancel) be provided for commonly used functions or commands and that 
the keyboard map not change except under user control, so that a user 
memorizing key locations shall be able to rely on those locations. The 
Board has not included these provisions since they are user convenience 
issues not accessibility issues. The committee also recommended that 
all keyboard access functionality be documented with a product or 
follow documented operating system conventions. This provision is not 
included since documentation is already addressed by section 1194.31.
    Paragraph (b) applies to non-embedded software applications and 
operating systems. All electronic and information technology products 
operate by following programming instructions referred to as software. 
Software can be divided into two broad categories: software that is 
embedded in a chip mounted in a product and software that is loaded 
onto a storage device such as a hard disk and can be erased, replaced 
or updated. The provisions in this section address requirements for 
accessible ``installable, non-embedded'' software.
    Paragraph (b)(1) requires the use of keystrokes for navigation 
among interface elements. For persons with vision impairments who 
cannot use a pointing device such as a mouse, having access to program 
controls through keyboard navigation is essential. An example of this 
feature would be the ability to tab through the choices in a dialog box 
rather than requiring that a user move a pointer to a particular 
selection and click on it. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(2) prohibits applications from disabling access 
features of applications or the operating system. There are 
commercially available software applications and operating systems that 
have accessibility features built-in that can be turned on or off by a 
user. These include features that can reverse the color scheme, show an 
image when an error tone is generated, or provide for ``sticky keys'' 
that allow a user to hit key combinations (such as control-C) 
sequentially rather than simultaneously. This provision prohibits other 
software programs from disabling these features when selected. This 
requirement is

[[Page 17354]]

consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(3) requires that a well-defined on-screen indication 
of the current focus be provided that moves among interactive interface 
elements as the input focus changes. The focus is the point on a screen 
where an action will occur when a keystroke or mouse click is 
activated. For example, when an individual displays a file directory on 
the screen, the focus point shows what file will be activated when the 
enter key is pressed. The focus must be programmatically exposed so 
that assistive technology can track the focus and focus changes and be 
easily seen by the user. The focus point must be identified in the 
program language. Making the identification of the focus point in the 
software programmatically available allows programmers of assistive 
technology software such as screen readers, to let the user know where 
the current focus is placed. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(4) requires that programs provide sufficient 
information about a user interface element, including the identity, 
operation and state of the element, to assistive technology software. 
User interface elements can include, but are not limited to, buttons, 
checkboxes, menu bars, or tool bars. For assistive technology to 
operate efficiently, it must have access to the information about a 
user interface from the program to be able to inform the user of the 
existence, location, and status of all interface elements. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (b)(5) provides requirements for accessing images that 
represent an action. For example, a push button, checkbox or other 
action point is often represented by a graphic. Assistive technology 
however, cannot describe pictures or graphics. This provision requires 
that programs provide text such as a ``tooltip'' for the assistive 
technology to interpret the pictures so that a user of assistive 
technology can identify what action will occur when an element is 
activated by a keystroke or mouse click. This provision is consistent 
with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(6) provides that the use of an image will be 
consistent throughout an application. Most screen reading programs 
allow users to assign text names to bitmap images. If the bitmap image 
should change meaning during the running of an application, the 
assigned identifier is no longer valid. This provision prohibits the 
changing of the meaning of a bitmap image during an application and is 
consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(7) provides that software must follow standard 
programming techniques applicable for the specific operating system 
when software programs supply text to assistive technology programs. If 
programs are written using nonstandard code, other programs such as 
software for assistive technology may not be able to receive 
information from the application. At a minimum, the types of text 
information that must be available include text content, text input 
caret location, and text attributes. This provision is consistent with 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(8) requires that a minimum of eight foreground and 
eight background color selections capable of producing a variety of 
contrast levels be provided. This provision requires more than just 
providing color choices. The available choices must also allow for 
different levels of contrast. Many people experience a high degree of 
sensitivity to bright displays. Someone with this condition cannot 
focus on a bright screen for long because they will soon be unable to 
distinguish individual letters. An overly bright background causes a 
visual ``white-out''. To alleviate this problem, the user must be able 
to select a softer background and appropriate foreground colors.
    In addition to requiring different levels of colors and contrasts, 
the advisory committee recommended providing a ``wide variety'' of font 
size and style settings. The proposed provision does not require 
variations of font sizes and styles because those who would benefit 
from increased font size will also need an increase in the size of all 
screen elements. This can best be accomplished by adding screen 
enlargement software to the system.
    Question 6: The Board seeks comment on whether eight foreground and 
eight background colors is sufficient to give the user ample 
selections. If a larger number of choices were required, is software 
commercially available from more than one manufacturer?
    Paragraph (b)(9) prohibits applications from overriding user 
selected contrast and color selections. This provision addresses the 
problem of applications refusing to respect system-wide settings and is 
consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee. Often 
persons with disabilities prefer to select color, contrast, keyboard 
repeat rate, and keyboard sensitivity settings in an operating system. 
When an application disables these settings, accessibility is reduced. 
This provision allows the user to select personalized settings which 
cannot be disabled by software programs.
    Paragraph (b)(10) requires that people with disabilities have 
access to electronic forms. Electronic forms are a popular method used 
by many agencies to gather information or permit a person to apply for 
services, benefits, or employment. The 1998 Government Paperwork 
Elimination Act requires that Federal agencies make electronic versions 
of their forms available online and allows individuals and business to 
use electronic signatures to file these forms electronically. This 
provision requires that when an agency uses a form that cannot be read 
and manipulated by assistive technology, an alternative form must also 
be provided that is accessible. An example of a form which is not 
accessible is one which is graphical in nature and cannot be translated 
into meaningful text by assistive technology. This provision is 
consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b)(11) establishes requirements for handling animated 
text. The use of animation on a screen can pose serious access problems 
for users of screen readers or other assistive technology. When 
important elements such as push buttons or relevant text are animated, 
the user of assistive technology cannot access the application. This 
provision requires that in addition to the animation, an application 
provide the elements in a static form. This provision is consistent 
with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended that system startup and 
restart be accessible, however, the Board has not included that 
provision in the proposed rule since no measurable standards were 
recommended.
    Paragraph (c) applies to web-based information and applications. 
These standards do not apply to external web sites, including search 
engines, which are not developed or procured by a Federal agency. For 
example, an employee of an agency may use a search engine which is 
based on a commercial web site. That search engine does not have to 
comply with these standards.
    By statute, when a Federal agency develops, procures, maintains or 
uses electronic and information technology, including web-based 
information and applications, they must comply with these standards 
unless to do so would

[[Page 17355]]

be an undue burden (section 508(a)(1)(A)). The enforcement provisions 
of section 508, however, are limited to those web-based information and 
applications that are procured on or after August 7, 2000. (See section 
508(f)(1)(B)). The enforcement provisions are silent with respect to 
products which are not procured, but are developed, used or maintained 
by a Federal agency (e.g., an agency develops a web page in house). 
However, even though the enforcement mechanisms provided in section 508 
do not authorize complaints or lawsuits for inaccessible products which 
are developed, used or maintained by an agency, the Board expects that 
these products, including web pages, will be accessible. (See section 
508(a)(1)(A) which addresses the development, procurement, maintenance, 
or use of electronic and information technology by the Federal 
government.) The Board notes that section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 
imposes a duty on the Federal government to make programs conducted by 
the Federal government (e.g., an agency web site) accessible and that 
both sections 501 and 504 of that Act requires that Federal agencies 
address the needs of employees with disabilities. (29 U.S.C. 794 
(section 504); 29 U.S.C. 791 (section 501)). It is possible that in 
determining compliance with these statutory obligations, the standards 
issued by the Board under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act will be 
used as a yardstick to measure whether a program is accessible. 
Furthermore, under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the 
Department of Justice has an obligation to prepare biennial reports 
assessing compliance by Federal agencies with these standards (section 
508(d)(2)). That report would address products developed, procured, 
maintained or used by the Federal government, as well as actions 
regarding individual complaints.
    Example 1: On January 1, 2001, a Federal agency enters into a 
procurement contract with an outside entity for the development of an 
agency web site. That web site would have to meet these standards, 
unless to do so would be an undue burden. Because it is a procurement 
on or after August 7, 2000, the agency would be subject to a complaint 
or civil action if the web site was not accessible. Suppose however, 
the agency develops its own web site. That web site would have to be 
accessible under section 508(a)(1)(A), unless it was an undue burden, 
but because it was not a procurement, the enforcement provisions under 
section 508(f) of the Rehabilitation Act would not apply. While there 
may not be a remedy under section 508, there would be recourse under 
section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in that the agency was conducting 
a program that was not accessible.
    Example 2: An agency has an existing web site and enters into a 
procurement contract with an outside entity to develop new pages to be 
added to its web site to address a new program. The content of the new 
pages would have to meet these standards unless to do so would be an 
undue burden. If the procurement was on or after August 7, 2000, the 
accessibility of the new pages could be the subject of a complaint or 
civil action. With respect to the preexisting web site, it would be 
subject to the agency's obligations under section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act which may require that the agency develop a plan to 
update the web site and make it accessible over a period of time.
    The advisory committee recommended that the Board's standards 
reference the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility 
Initiative's (WAI) \13\ Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, User 
Agent Accessibility Guidelines, and Authoring Tool Accessibility 
Guidelines, including requirements from priority levels one and two for 
each document.
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    \13\ The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), in coordination 
with organizations around the world, is pursuing accessibility of 
the web through five primary areas of work: technology, guidelines, 
tools, education and outreach, and research and development. 
Additional resources are available at http://www.w3.org/WAI, 
including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, available at 
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rather than referencing the WAI guidelines, the proposed standards 
include provisions which are based generally on priority level one 
checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, as well as 
other agency documents on web accessibility and additional 
recommendations of the advisory committee. The Board's rephrasing of 
language from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 in paragraph 
(c) of the proposed rule has not been reviewed by the W3C, since 
proposed rules are not made public until published in the Federal 
Register.
    The advisory committee also included specific recommendations for 
browsers and web authoring tools. Because web browsers and web 
authoring tools, (as well as web pages) are software in nature, they 
must also comply with the requirements of section 1194.23(b).
    Paragraph (c)(1) requires that a text equivalent be provided for 
every non-text element. For example, a link or graphic on a web page 
that indicates an action or a URL cannot be interpreted by assistive 
technology. This provision would require that an alternative text label 
be assigned to that link or graphic. This provision is consistent with 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c)(2) requires alternatives for color based prompting. 
The creative use of color can enhance the look of web pages. However, a 
person who has either low vision or is color blind would have 
difficulty activating color based prompts. Web pages therefore, are 
required to indicate with text that which is evident by using color. 
For example, a statement such as ``press the green button to begin,'' 
should read ``press the green button labeled start to begin,'' and the 
word ``start'' should be associated with the green button. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (c)(3) provides that the user be alerted to a change in 
the natural language of a web page. For example, this requirement can 
be met by adding a line of text to a web page which changes from 
English to French by adding text which reads ``the following paragraph 
is presented in French.'' Most screen readers used by blind and 
visually impaired persons only have rules for pronouncing one language. 
If the web site did not alert the user to a language change, the user 
would be at a loss as to why the page had become unintelligible. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (c)(4) provides that documents must be organized so they 
are readable without requiring style sheets. Style sheets are a 
relatively new technology that allows web site designers to easily 
control formatting (such as font size and color and text alignment) 
throughout their web pages. This provision does not prohibit the use of 
style sheets (which can often be used to enhance accessibility) 
provided that web pages using style sheets can be viewed by browsers 
not supporting style sheets and by browsers that have disabled support 
for style sheets. In addition, certain newer browsers allow users to 
define their own style sheets to improve the accessibility of web 
pages. This provision prohibits the use of style sheets that interfere 
with user defined style sheets. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c)(5) requires that when alternative access to web page 
content, such as captioning of audio programs or multimedia, is 
provided, that alternative

[[Page 17356]]

must be updated on the screen every time the content changes. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (c)(6) provides that redundant text links must be 
provided for each active region of a server-side image map. When a web 
page uses server-side maps as navigation aids, the individual browser 
cannot communicate the URL that will be followed when a region of the 
map is activated. Therefore, the redundant text link will be necessary 
to provide access to the page for anyone not able to see or load the 
map. This provision is consistent with the recommendations of the 
advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c)(7) provides that client-side image maps must be used 
whenever possible in place of server-side image maps. When a web page 
downloads a client-side image map to a browser, it also sends all the 
information about what action will happen when a region of the map is 
pressed. For this reason, client-side image maps, even though graphical 
in nature, will show the links related to the map in a text format. 
This provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraphs (c)(8) and (9) permit the use of tables, but require 
that the tables be coded according to proper HTML rules. Many assistive 
technology applications can interpret the HTML coding of tables. When 
tables are coded inaccurately or table codes are used for non tabular 
material, the assistive technology cannot accurately read the content.
    Paragraph (c)(10) establishes requirements for the use of frames. 
Frames can be an asset to users of screen readers if the labels on the 
frames are explicit. Such labels as top, bottom, or left, provide few 
clues as to what is contained in the frame. Labels such as ``navigation 
bar'' or ``main content'' are more meaningful and facilitate frame 
identification and navigation. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c)(11) provides that scripts, applets, or other plug-ins 
must not be essential to reading or navigating a web page. When the 
content or navigation of a web page relies on scripts or requires that 
a user have a specific plug-in installed, the result can be an 
inaccessible page. If the page cannot be created with text attributes 
for navigation and content that do not require a plug-in, then an 
alternate text page may be the only solution. The Board recommends that 
access features be incorporated into all web pages without resorting to 
alternative text pages. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c)(12) provides that when features such as captioning 
for audio output or descriptive audio for graphics is provided, the 
captioning or description must be presented in a synchronous manner. 
This provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (c)(13) provides that an appropriate method must be used 
to facilitate the easy tracking of page content that provides users of 
assistive technology the option to skip repetitive navigation links. It 
is common for web authors to place navigation links at the top, bottom, 
or side of every new page. This technique can render use of a web site 
very difficult for persons using a screen reader as screen readers move 
through pages reading from top to bottom. The use of repetitive 
navigation links forces persons with visual impairments to re-read 
these links when moving to every new page. This provision allows the 
user to more efficiently read the contents of a page. This provision is 
consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended that if extensive ASCII art 
is used, a link should be provided to allow a user to jump to the end 
of the ASCII art. The Board has not included this provision since it is 
a user convenience issue not an accessibility issue.
    Paragraph (d) applies to telecommunications functions. These 
provisions address products which involve the transmission of 
information without changing the form or content of the information as 
sent and received. ``Telecommunications'' is further defined in section 
1194.4, Definitions.
    Paragraph (d)(1) requires that products shall provide a standard 
non-acoustic connection point for TTYs when they have a function that 
allows voice communication and do not provide a TTY functionality. It 
shall also be possible for the user to easily turn any microphone on 
the product on and off to enable the user who can talk to intermix 
speech with TTY use. Individuals who use TTYs to communicate must have 
a non-acoustic way to connect TTYs to telephones in order to obtain 
clear TTY connections, such as through a direct RJ-11 connector, a 2.5 
mm audio jack, or automatic switching. When a TTY is connected directly 
into the network, it must be possible to turn off the acoustic pickup 
(microphone) to avoid having background noise in a noisy environment 
mixed with the TTY signal. Since some TTY users make use of speech for 
outgoing communications, the microphone on/off switch must be easy to 
flip back and forth or a push-to-talk mode should be available. This 
provision is consistent with the Board's Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (d)(2) requires products providing voice communication 
functionality to be able to support use of all cross-manufacturer non-
proprietary standard signals used by TTYs. Some products compress the 
audio signal in such a manner that standard signals used by TTYs are 
distorted or attenuated, preventing successful TTY communication. Use 
of such technology is not prohibited as long as the compression can be 
turned off to allow undistorted TTY communication. This provision is 
consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d)(3) provides that voice mail, auto-attendant, and 
interactive voice response telecommunications systems shall be usable 
by TTY users with their TTYs. Voice mail systems are available which 
allow TTY users to retrieve and leave TTY messages. This provision does 
not require that phone systems have voice to text conversion 
capabilities so that a person who is deaf can retrieve a voice mail 
message directly with their TTY without relying on a relay service or 
an interpreter, but it does require that TTY users can retrieve and 
leave TTY messages. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d)(4) prohibits telecommunications services, such as 
interactive systems, from imposing time limits for responses. For 
example, a person accessing a Federal agency's automated menu from a 
TTY may need additional time to read the options and respond. This 
provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility 
Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d)(5) provides that functions such as caller 
identification must be accessible for users of TTYs, telecommunications 
relay services, and for users who cannot see displays. This provision 
is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory committee.

[[Page 17357]]

    Paragraph (d)(6) requires products to be equipped with volume 
control that provides an adjustable amplification up to a minimum of 20 
dB of gain. If a volume adjustment is provided that allows a user to 
set the level anywhere from 0 to the upper requirement of 20 dB, there 
is no need to specify a lower limit. If a stepped volume control is 
provided, one of the intermediate levels must provide 12 dB of gain. 
The gain applies to the voice output not Baudot, ASCII, or other 
machine codes. The proposed level of amplification is different from 
that required under the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act and the Federal 
Communications Commission's (FCC) regulations (47 CFR 68.317 (a)). The 
FCC requires volume control that provides, through the receiver in the 
handset or headset of the telephone, 12 dB of gain minimum and up to 18 
dB of gain maximum, when measured in terms of Receive Objective 
Loudness Rating.
    In accordance with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act, this provision is consistent with the 1998 ANSI A117.1 document, 
``Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.'' ANSI is the 
voluntary standard-setting body which issues accessibility standards 
used by the nation's model building codes. The Board has issued a 
separate NPRM to harmonize the existing ADAAG provision with the ANSI 
standard. This provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines. Tests conducted by two independent 
laboratories found high gain phones without special circuitry currently 
on the market which had 90 dB and 105 dB at maximum volume setting. 
This is a 20 dB gain over the standard 85 dB ambient noise level. (See 
Harry Teder Ph.D., Consulting in Hearing Technology; Harry Levitt, 
Ph.D., Director, Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center on 
Hearing Enhancement and Assistive Devices, Lexington Center).
    Paragraph (d)(7) requires that an automatic reset be installed on 
any telephone that allows the user to adjust the volume higher then the 
normal level. This is a safety feature to protect people from suffering 
damage to their hearing if they accidentally answer a telephone with 
the volume turned too high. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d)(8) requires products that provide auditory output by 
an audio transducer normally held up to the ear, to provide a means for 
effective wireless coupling to hearing aids. Generally, this means the 
earpiece generates sufficient magnetic field strength to induce an 
appropriate field in a hearing aid T-coil. The output in this case is 
the direct voice output of the transmission source, not the ``machine 
language'' such as tonal codes transmitted by TTYs. For example, a 
telephone must generate a magnetic output so that the hearing aid 
equipped with a T-coil can accurately receive the message. This 
provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility 
Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d)(9) requires that interference to hearing technologies 
shall be reduced to the lowest possible level that allows a user of 
hearing technologies to utilize a telecommunications product. 
Individuals who are hard of hearing use hearing aids and other 
assistive listening devices, but they cannot be used if products 
introduce noise into the listening aids because of electromagnetic 
interference. The American National Standards Institutes (ANSI) has 
established a task group under its subcommittee on medical devices to 
work toward the development of methods of measurement and defining the 
limits for hearing aid compatibility and accessibility to wireless 
telecommunications. The ANSI C63.19 task group is continuing to develop 
its standard, C63.19-199X, American National Standard for Methods of 
Measurement for Hearing Aid Compatibility with Wireless Communications 
Devices. When the standard is completed, the Board may reference it. 
This provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act 
Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Question 7: The Board seeks comment on how to better quantify the 
``lowest possible level'' of interference.
    Paragraph (e) applies to video or multimedia products. Multimedia 
products involve more than one media and include, but are not limited 
to, video programs, narrated slide production, and computer generated 
presentations.
    Paragraph (e)(1) requires any system with a screen larger than 13 
inches to be equipped with caption decoder circuitry which 
appropriately receives, decodes, and displays closed captions from 
broadcast, cable, videotape, and DVD signals. The FCC has standards for 
televisions 13 inches or larger, but video capabilities are now 
becoming popular in computers as well. This provision addresses these 
new video technologies. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (e)(2) requires that television tuners, including tuner 
cards for use in computers, be equipped with the circuitry needed to 
carry the secondary audio channel. The secondary audio channel is 
commonly used for audio description. This provision is consistent with 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraphs (e)(3) and (4) require that when an agency develops or 
procures multimedia productions that are intended to be shown 
repeatedly to audiences that may include persons who would need the 
captioning or audio description features, those productions must 
contain captioning or audio description. Audio description involves the 
insertion into a multimedia program, such as a video tape, of narrated 
descriptions of settings and actions that are not otherwise reflected 
in the dialogue, such as the movement of a person in the scene. Audio 
description is typically provided through the use of the Secondary 
Audio Programming (SAP) channel so that it is audible only when that 
channel is activated through a TV set, computers with a tuner card, or 
a VCR with SAP capability.
    Under these provisions, the requirements to have a videotape or 
multimedia production captioned or audio described would depend on its 
intended use. For example, an agency produces, or contracts to have 
produced, a videotape on government ethics. This videotape is made 
available for many agencies to purchase and use in training sessions. 
Since the tape is intended to be shown multiple times and to varied 
audiences, the composition of which may include people with hearing or 
vision impairments, it must be captioned and audio described, unless it 
is an undue burden to do so. On the other hand, a small agency or 
single office purchases a videotape on some aspect of acoustics which 
it intends to show to its staff to help understand a technical issue. 
Since the videotape is not intended to be shown on a repeated basis, 
and the agency knows that none of its staff have a hearing or vision 
impairment, the videotape would not need to be captioned or audio 
described. If however, the video was to be shown to an employee who is 
deaf, the agency would be required to accommodate that individual by 
providing an interpreter even though the videotape would not be 
required to be captioned. Such accommodations would be required

[[Page 17358]]

under section 501 or 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, not section 508.
    Question 8: The Board seeks information on the technical 
feasibility of making various computer generated presentations that 
comply with these provisions. Based on the proposed rule, computer 
based narrated slide presentations must be both captioned and audio 
described if they are shown multiple times and to varied audiences, the 
composition of which may include people with hearing or vision 
impairments.
    Paragraph (e)(5) provides that viewers must be able to turn 
captioning or video description features on or off. A person who can 
hear the audio may find the captioning of conversation intrusive, and 
people who can see the screen and can hear may find the audio 
description distracting. For this reason, it is important that an 
individual have the ability to select or deselect a particular feature.
    The advisory committee also recommended that digital television 
receivers meet the EIA-708-A standard for the transmission of 
captioning on a digital television signal. The Board has not included 
this provision since in July 1999, the Federal Communications 
Commission proposed to amend its rules to include requirements for the 
display of closed captioned text on digital television receivers. The 
FCC took this action to ensure that closed captioning services are 
available in the transition from analog to digital broadcasting. The 
Board may address this issue in future changes to the standards.
    Paragraph (f) applies to information kiosks and information 
transaction machines. This category of products includes, but is not 
limited to, automatic teller machines and information kiosks. On 
November 16, 1999, the Board published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
to revise and update its accessibility guidelines for buildings and 
facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) 
and the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA). 64 FR 62248 (November 
16, 1999). Included in that proposed rule are extensive revisions to 
the requirements for access to automatic teller machines (ATMs) and 
fare machines. (See sections 707.1;-707.8.3). The proposed revisions to 
the ADA and ABA guidelines provide more specific guidance on access to 
such equipment for people with vision impairments. In that proposed 
rule, the Board requested comment on whether the final rule should 
cover all types of interactive transaction machines, such as point-of-
sale machines and information kiosks, among others, rather than be 
limited to automatic teller machines and fare vending machines. If the 
Board decides to broaden the requirements to other types of information 
transaction machines in the final rule for the ADA and ABA guidelines, 
the final rule for access to electronic and information technology may 
not include requirements for information transaction machines since the 
ADA and ABA rulemaking would apply to the Federal government as well as 
the private sector.
    Paragraph (f)(1) provides that access features must be built into 
the system rather than requiring users to attach an assistive device to 
the product. Personal headsets are not considered an assistive device 
and may be required to use the product. This provision is consistent 
with the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (f)(2) provides that information kiosks and information 
transaction machines that deliver audio output, including speech, shall 
provide a mechanism for private listening and user interruptability. A 
mechanism for private listening means providing either a telephone type 
handset or a standard jack for headphones. These mechanisms allow users 
to hear information in private. Allowing the user to interrupt long 
spoken phrases increases the product's usability and saves time for the 
user and others who may be waiting to access the product. This 
provision is consistent with the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (f)(3) provides that information kiosks and information 
transaction machines that deliver voice output, shall provide 
incremental volume control with output amplification up to a level of 
at least 65 dB. Where the ambient noise level of the environment is 
above 45 dB, a volume gain of at least 20 dB above the ambient level 
shall be user selectable. According to the Occupational Safety and 
Health Administration, and the American Speech, Language, and Hearing 
Association, 65 dB is the volume level for normal speech. This 
provision requires that audio output from a kiosk type product shall 
have a minimum level of 65 dB. For people with reduced hearing, voice 
levels must be 20 dB above the surround sound level to be 
understandable. This means that as long as the noise level in the 
surrounding environment is below 45 dB, the 65 dB output level would be 
sufficient. If the product is in an environment with a high noise 
level, the user must be able to raise the volume to a setting of 20 dB 
higher than the ambient level. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended standards for remote 
wireless access to these products. The Board has not included those 
recommendations since compliant technology is still in development.

Other Issues

    The advisory committee recommended other provisions that the Board 
did not include in this rule. For example, the committee considered 
methods for making a personal digital assistant (PDA), such as a 
``palmtop,'' accessible for a segment of people with disabilities. The 
Board has not included such a provision because the technology to make 
PDAs accessible does not exist at this time.
    The committee also recommended that the connection of cables, 
mounting, and attaching external elements of products (e.g., connecting 
an external monitor or accessory), require less than 5 pounds of force 
and that cables be differentiable by touch or keyed for corresponding 
connections. These provisions are not included since members of the 
public seeking information from an agency would not be expected to 
attach or disconnect cables and employees are also covered by sections 
501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which require reasonable 
accommodation to the needs of an employee. Also, connecting and 
disconnecting cables is not generally an employee task. In the few 
instances where it is, such as attaching a refreshable Braille display 
to a laptop, the connections are usually made with standard parallel 
and serial connectors which are polarized or shaped to prevent 
incorrect connections. Section 1194.25(b) restricts the use of 
proprietary connectors.
Section 1194.25  Requirements for Compatibility With Assistive 
Technology
    Compliant products must be accessible either inherently or by being 
compatible with add-on assistive technology. The provisions in this 
section address the requirements for compatibility.
    Paragraph (a) provides that all products that act as a transport or 
conduit for information or communication shall pass all codes, 
translation protocols, formats, or any other information necessary to 
provide information or communication in an accessible format. In 
particular, signal compression technologies shall not remove 
information needed for access or shall restore it upon decompression.

[[Page 17359]]

Some transmissions include codes or tags embedded in ``unused'' 
portions of the signal to provide accessibility. For example, closed 
captioning information is usually included in portions of a video 
signal not seen by users without decoders. This section prohibits 
products from stripping out such information or requires the 
information to be restored at the end point. This provision is 
consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b) requires that, where provided, one of each type of 
expansion slot, port and connector must comply with publicly available 
industry standards. This provision applies to hardware products that 
may require the attachment of assistive technology devices to make them 
accessible. Examples of publicly available industry standards may 
include RS-232, Centronics, SCSI interfaces, PCMCIA, or USB.
    Paragraph (c) prohibits operating system software from interfering 
with assistive technology. If an operating system preempts the use of 
keyboard assignments or the use of specific ports, it can be difficult 
or impossible to operate the system with assistive technology. This 
provision requires operating systems to permit the background operation 
of assistive technology products. This provision is consistent with the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d) requires products with auditory output to provide the 
auditory signal through an industry standard connector at a standard 
signal level. Individuals using personal headphones, amplifiers, audio 
couplers, and other audio processing devices need a place to tap into 
the audio generated by the product in a standard fashion. This 
provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility 
Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory committee.
Section 1194.27  Functional Performance Criteria
    This section requires that a product's operation and information 
retrieval functions be operable through at least one mode which meets 
each of the following paragraphs.
    Paragraph (a) provides that at least one mode of operation and 
information retrieval that does not require user vision shall be 
provided, or support for assistive technology used by people who are 
blind or visually impaired shall be provided. It is not expected that 
every software program will be self-voicing or have its own built-in 
screen reader. Providing keyboard access as specified in 1194.23(a) and 
software that complies with section 1194.23(b) would satisfy this 
requirement. This provision is consistent with the Telecommunications 
Act Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    Paragraph (b) provides that at least one mode of operation and 
information retrieval that does not require visual acuity greater than 
20/70 (when corrected with glasses) must be provided in audio and 
enlarged print output that works together or independently. In the 
alternative, support for assistive technology used by people who are 
visually impaired must be provided. Although visual acuity of 20/200 is 
considered ``legally blind,'' there are actually millions of Americans 
with vision below the 20/200 threshold who can still see enough to 
operate and get output from technology, often with just a little 
additional boost in contrast or font size. This paragraph requires 
either the provision of screen enlargement and voice output or, that 
the product support assistive technology. This provision is consistent 
with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c) provides that at least one mode of operation and 
information retrieval that does not require user hearing must be 
provided or, in the alternative, support for assistive technology used 
by people who are deaf or hard of hearing shall be provided. This 
requirement is met when a product provides visual redundancy for any 
audible cues or audio output. If this redundancy cannot be built into a 
product then the product shall support the use of assistive technology 
that complies with section 1194.25, Requirements for Compatibility with 
Assistive Technology. This provision is consistent with the 
Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations 
of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (d) requires that audio information important for the use 
of a product, must be provided in an enhanced auditory fashion by 
allowing for an increase in volume and/or altering the tonal quality or 
increasing the signal to noise ratio. For example, increasing the 
output would assist persons with limited hearing to receive 
information. Audio information that is important for the use of a 
product includes, but is not limited to, error tones, confirmation 
beeps and tones, and verbal instructions. This provision is consistent 
with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (e) provides that at least one mode of operation and 
information retrieval which does not require user speech must be 
provided, or support for assistive technology shall be provided. Most 
products do not require speech input, however, if speech input is 
required to operate a product, this paragraph requires that at least 
one alternative input mode also be provided. For example, an 
interactive telephone menu that requires the user to say or press 
``one'' would meet this requirement. This provision is consistent with 
the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (f) provides that at least one mode of operation and 
information retrieval that does not require fine motor control or 
simultaneous actions and which is operable with limited reach and 
strength must be provided. Products that meet the requirements in 
sections 1194.21(b) and 1194.23(a)(3) would comply with this 
requirement. This provision is consistent with the Telecommunications 
Act Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory 
committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended provisions that address 
limited cognitive or memory abilities and limited language and learning 
disabilities. Although it is important to be cognizant of issues for 
all people with disabilities, we believe that it is difficult for a 
manufacturer or procurement official to know if the criteria the 
committee recommended were met. Also, many of the features required to 
accommodate other disabilities, can be very useful to people with 
learning and language related disabilities. For example, features such 
as voice output and highlighting a focus tracking helps those with 
reading difficulties.

Subpart C--Information, Documentation, and Support

Section 1194.31  Information, Documentation, and Support
    In order for a product or system to be fully accessible, the 
information about the product and product support services must also be 
accessible. These issues are addressed in this section.
    Paragraph (a) provides that when an agency provides end-user 
documentation to users of technology, the agency must ensure that the 
documentation is available upon request in alternate formats. Alternate 
formats

[[Page 17360]]

are defined in section 1194.4, Definitions. Except as provided in 
paragraph (b) below, this provision does not require alternate formats 
of documentation that is not provided by the agency to other users of 
technology. This provision is consistent with the recommendations of 
the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (b) requires that agencies supply end-users with 
information about accessibility or compatibility features that are 
built into a product, upon request. This provision is consistent with 
the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 
recommendations of the advisory committee.
    Paragraph (c) provides that help desks and other support services 
serving an agency must be capable of accommodating the communications 
needs of persons with disabilities. For example, an agency help desk 
may need to communicate through a TTY. The help desk or support service 
must also be familiar with such features as keyboard access and other 
options important to people with disabilities. This provision is 
consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and 
the recommendations of the advisory committee.
    The advisory committee also recommended that any training provided 
by manufacturers, providers or other parties, accommodate the 
functional capabilities of all participants. The Board has not included 
this provision since Federal employees already have a right to 
accessible training under section 504 and other provisions of the 
Rehabilitation Act.

Regulatory Process Matters

Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Congressional 
Review Act

    This proposed rule is an economically significant regulatory action 
under Executive Order 12866 and has been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB). The proposed rule is also a major rule 
under the Congressional Review Act. The Board has prepared a regulatory 
assessment for the proposed rule which has been placed in the docket 
and is available for public inspection. The regulatory assessment is 
also available on the Board's Internet site (http://www.access-
board.gov/rules/508nprm.htm).
    Section 508 covers the development, procurement, maintenance or use 
of electronic and information technology by Federal agencies. 
Exemptions are provided by statute for national security systems and 
for instances where compliance would impose an undue burden on an 
agency. The proposed rule improves the accessibility of electronic and 
information technology used by the Federal government and will affect 
Federal employees with disabilities, as well as members of the public 
with disabilities who seek to use Federal electronic and information 
technologies to access information. The proposed rule is based largely 
on the recommendations of the Electronic and Information Technology 
Access Advisory Committee.
    The standards in the proposed rule will be incorporated into the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Failure of a Federal agency to 
comply with the standards may result in a complaint under the agency's 
existing complaint procedures under section 504 of the Rehabilitation 
Act or a civil action seeking to enforce compliance with the standards.
Estimated Baseline of Federal Spending for Electronic and Information 
Technology
    According to OMB projections, Federal government expenditures for 
information technology products will be $38 billion in fiscal year 
2000. The defense agencies appear to have the highest information 
technology budgets, while civilian agency budgets are expected to 
increase rapidly. It was not possible however, to disaggregate this 
data such that it was useful for purposes of a regulatory assessment. 
Instead, the regulatory assessment uses annual sales data collected 
from the General Services Administration (GSA) as a proxy for the 
actual number of products in each applicable technology category. Using 
the GSA data, the regulatory assessment estimates that the Federal 
government spends approximately $12.4 billion annually on electronic 
and information technology products covered by the proposed rule. This 
estimate likely understates the actual spending by the Federal 
government because it is limited to the GSA data. Agencies are not 
required to make purchases through the GSA supply service, thus many 
items are purchased directly from suppliers. As a result, the 
government costs for software and compatible hardware products may 
actually be higher than estimates would indicate.
    The regulatory assessment also examines historical budgetary 
obligations for information technology tracked by OMB until 1998. Two 
scenarios were examined to develop an upper and lower bound to 
represent the proportion expected to be potentially affected by the 
proposed rule. During a five year period from fiscal year 1994 through 
fiscal year 1998, the average proportion of the total information 
technology obligations potentially covered by the proposed rule ranged 
between 25 percent and 50 percent. The $12.4 billion GSA estimate falls 
within this range, representing 33 percent of the total fiscal year 
1999 information technology obligations of $38 billion. One limitation 
of these ranges is that they are based on gross classifications of 
information technology obligations and do not provide the level of 
disaggregation necessary to parallel the GSA data assessment. As a 
result, the two scenarios likely include expenditures on products and 
services that would not be effected by the proposed rule to a higher 
degree than the data obtained from GSA.
    The degree to which the potential understatement of baseline 
spending leads to an understatement of the cost of the proposed rule is 
unclear. Some of the components of the estimated cost of the proposed 
rule rely heavily on the level of Federal spending while others are 
independent of this number.
    Question 9: The Board seeks information, other than that collected 
from GSA, which would provide additional product specific data to 
further assess the cost impact of this rule. The data should cover 
either the entire, or at least a representative majority, of Federal 
government acquisitions of electronic and information technology; or 
capture non-GSA procurements.
Estimated Cost of Proposed Rule
    The regulatory assessment includes both direct and opportunity 
costs associated with the proposed rule. Major sources of cost include:
     Costs of modifying electronic and information technology 
to meet the substantive requirements of the standards;
     Training of staff, both Federal and manufacturers, to 
market, support, and use technologies modified in response to the 
standards; and
     Translation of documentation and instructions into 
alternate formats.
    The direct costs that were quantified are shown in Table 1. The 
total quantified costs to society range from $177 million to $1,068 
million annually. The Federal proportion of these costs is estimated to 
range between $85 million and $691 million. The ability of 
manufacturers, especially software manufacturers, to distribute these 
costs over the general consumer population will determine the actual 
proportion shared by the Federal government.

[[Page 17361]]

Assuming that the addition of accessibility features add value to the 
products outside the Federal government, it is expected that the costs 
will be distributed across society thereby setting a lower bound cost 
to the Federal government of $85 million. If manufacturers do not 
distribute the costs across society, the upper bound of the Federal 
cost will increase to an estimated $1,068 million. These costs must be 
placed in appropriate context by comparing them with the total Federal 
expenditures for information technology. By comparison, the lower and 
upper bound of the incremental costs represent a range of 0.23 percent 
to 2.8 percent of the $38 billion spent by the Federal government on 
information technology in fiscal year 1999. Although the regulatory 
assessment does not analyze the timing of expenditures or reductions in 
costs over time, it is expected that the costs will decrease over time 
as a proportion of total electronic and information technology 
spending.

                                 Table 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Lower bound   Upper bound
                                                  cost          cost
    Electronic and information technology       estimates     estimates
                                               (millions)    (millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
General Office Software.....................          $110          $456
Mission Specific Software...................            10            52
Compatible Hardware Products................  ............           337
Document Management Products................            56           222
Microphotographic Products..................           0.1           0.4
Other Miscellaneous Products................           0.2             1
                                             ---------------------------
      Total Social Cost.....................           177         1,068
Estimated Federal Proportion................            85       \1\691
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ As noted above, if manufacturers do not distribute the costs across
  society, the upper bound of the Federal cost will increase to an
  estimated $1,068 million.

    Accessible alternatives are available to satisfy the requirements 
of the proposed rule for many types of electronic and information 
technologies, particularly computers and software products. Some 
electronic and information technology products will require 
modifications to meet the requirements of the proposed standards.
    For many types of electronic and information technology, the 
proposed rule focuses on compatibility with existing and future 
assistive devices, such as screen readers. The proposed rule does not 
require that assistive technologies be provided universally. Provision 
of assistive technologies is still governed by the reasonable 
accommodation requirements contained in sections 501 and 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 does not require that assistive devices 
be purchased, but it does require that covered electronic and 
information technology be capable of having such devices added at some 
later time as necessary.
    Software products represent the largest part of the estimated 
costs. The regulatory assessment assumes that Federal software 
expenditures can be divided into two major subcategories: general 
office applications and mission-specific applications. Internet 
applications are assumed to be represented within each of these 
subcategories. General office applications include operating systems, 
wordprocessors, and spreadsheets, and are assumed to represent 80 
percent of the total software category. The remaining 20 percent covers 
mission-specific or proprietary applications that have limited 
distribution outside the Federal government. Within each subcategory, 
the estimated costs of the proposed rule are distributed according to 
the level or degree of accessibility already being achieved in the 
private sector.
    The general office application subcategory is broken into three 
groups based on discussions with several industry experts. The first 30 
percent is expected to require very little modification to satisfy the 
proposed standards and therefore no incremental cost is associated with 
this group. The middle 40 percent is expected to require minor to 
medium alterations to satisfy the proposed rule. The cost of modifying 
a particular general office application in this category is estimated 
to be in the range of 0.4 percent to 1 percent based on discussions 
with several manufacturers. This assumption is based on the ratio of 
employees dedicated to accessibility issues. The methodology uses 
employee classification as a proxy for cost or expense of accessibility 
research and development, labor, and design that are all factored into 
the final product cost. The remaining 30 percent is expected to require 
significant modifications to meet the requirements of the proposed 
rule, which is estimated to cost in the range of 1 percent to 5 percent 
based on discussion with industry experts.
    The regulatory assessment assumes that the remaining 20 percent of 
the software products purchased by the Federal government represent 
proprietary or mission-specific software with limited distribution 
outside the government. These products will require significant 
modification to satisfy the proposed rule. Based on discussions with 
industry experts, the cost increase associated with achieving the level 
of accessibility required by the proposed rule is estimated to range 
from 1 percent to 5 percent.
    Question 10: The Board requests comments on the assumptions applied 
to determine the cost associated with software products. The Board also 
seeks comment on alternative methods or data sources for evaluating the 
Federal government's expenditure on software products.
Estimated Benefits of Proposed Rule
    The benefits associated with the proposed rule results from 
increased access to electronic and information technology for Federal 
employees with disabilities and members of the public seeking Federal 
information provided using electronic and information technology. This 
increased access reduces barriers to employment in the Federal 
government for persons with disabilities, reduces the probability that 
Federal employees with disabilities will be underemployed, and 
increases the productivity of Federal work teams. The proposed 
standards may also have benefits for people outside the Federal 
workforce, both with and without disabilities, as a result of spillover 
of technology from the Federal government to the rest of society.
    Two methods are presented in the regulatory assessment for 
evaluating the quantifiable benefits of the proposed rule. The first is 
a wage gap analysis that attempts to measure the difference in wages 
between the general Federal workforce and Federal workers with 
disabilities (i.e., targeted and reportable). While this analysis is 
limited to white collar Federal workers due to data constraints, the 
potential change in productivity is measured by the difference between 
the weighted average salary for all white collar Federal employees and 
the average within the two disability classes. This assumes that an 
increase in accessibility will help diminish this wage gap by 
increasing worker productivity.
    The alternative is a team based approach for measuring the 
productivity of Federal workers. This approach is

[[Page 17362]]

based on the assumption that a Federal workers wage rate reflects their 
productivity and the scarcity of their skills in the labor market. 
However this may not apply to Federal wage rates, thus the average 
productivity of a Federal team is assumed to be equivalent to the 
average Federal wage rate. Based on this average rate, it is assumed 
that the proposed rule will produce an increase in productivity ranging 
between 5 percent and 10 percent.
    Since no data have been identified to support the increase in 
productivity in the team based approach, the wage gap analysis is used 
to represent the benefits generated by the proposed rule shown in Table 
2. Keeping in mind certain data limitations with this analysis, the 
benefits derived from the wage gap method do not account for benefits 
that may be accrued by the general public or other Federal workers due 
to spillover effects of increased accessibility resulting from the 
proposed standards.

                                 Table 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Aggregate
                Productivity increase                    benefits range
                                                           (millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lower Bound..........................................  .................
Upper Bound..........................................               $466
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not all government policies are based on maximizing economic 
efficiency. Some policies are based on furthering the rights of certain 
classes of individuals to achieve more equitable results, regardless of 
the effect on economic efficiency. Accessibility to electronic 
information and technology is an essential component of civil rights 
for persons with disabilities. The proposed rule will ensure that 
Federal employees with disabilities will have access to electronic and 
information technology used by the Federal government that is 
comparable to that of Federal employees without disabilities; and that 
members of the public with disabilities will have comparable access to 
information and services provided to members of the public without 
disabilities through the use of Federal electronic and information 
technology.
    Based on Bureau of Census statistics from 1994,\14\ 20.6 percent or 
54 million persons in the United States have some level of disability. 
By increasing the accessibility of electronic and information 
technology used by the Federal government, the proposed rule may also 
improve future employment opportunities in the Federal government for 
persons with disabilities currently employed by the Federal government, 
and for persons that are working in the private sector or are 
classified as not being active in the labor force. Increasing the 
accessibility of electronic and information technology increases the 
productivity and mobility of the disabled sector of the labor pool 
that, under existing conditions, may face barriers to their employment 
and advancement within the Federal workforce and in the private sector.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics 
Administration, ``Americans with Disabilities: 1994-95'' (P70-61), 
August 1997.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Question 11: The Board requests comment on the sufficiency of the 
benefits assessment and seeks recommendations for alternative methods 
of evaluating the benefits generated by the proposed rule for persons 
with disabilities, including the public as a whole.

Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    By its terms, this proposed rule focuses on the development, 
procurement, maintenance or use by Federal agencies of electronic and 
information technology. As such, the Board believes that it does not 
have federalism implications within the meaning of Executive Order 
13132. The Board is aware, however, that the Department of Education 
interprets the Assistive Technology Act (the ``AT Act''), 29 U.S.C. 
3001, to require that States receiving assistance under the AT State 
Grants program to comply with section 508, including these standards. 
The Department of Education, the agency responsible for administering 
the AT Act, has advised the Board that it plans to issue guidance to 
explain specifically how these proposed standards would apply to the 
States for purposes of the AT Act. In this regard, the Department of 
Education plans to consult with State and local governments in a manner 
consistent with the requirements of Executive Order 13132, and to urge 
them to comment to the Access Board on the content of the proposed rule 
during the public comment period. The Board recommends that any other 
Federal agency considering whether (or how) to apply these standards to 
non-Federal entities, or any agency required to apply these standards 
to non-Federal entities by provision of law, should similarly conduct 
an appropriate consultation process with all affected stakeholders. The 
Board welcomes comment on any federalism implications associated with 
this proposed rule.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act does not apply to proposed or 
final rules that enforce constitutional rights of individuals or 
enforce any statutory rights that prohibit discrimination on the basis 
of race, color, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or disability. 
Since the proposed rule is issued under the authority of section 508, 
part of title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which establishes 
civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities, an 
assessment of the rule's effects on State, local, and tribal 
governments, and the private sector is not required by the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 1194

    Civil rights, Communications equipment, Computer technology, 
Electronic products, Government employees, Government procurement, 
Individuals with disabilities, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Telecommunications.

Thurman M. Davis, Sr.,
Chair, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Board proposes to 
add part 1194 to Chapter XI of title 36 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations to read as follows:

PART 1194--ELECTRONIC AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACCESSIBILITY 
STANDARDS

Subpart A--General
Sec.
1194.1   Purpose.
1194.2   Application.
1194.3   General exceptions.
1194.4   Definitions.
1194.5   Equivalent facilitation.
Subpart B--Accessibility Standards
1194.21   General requirements.
1194.23   Component specific requirements.
1194.25   Requirements for compatibility with assistive technology.
1194.27   Functional performance criteria.
Subpart C--Information, Documentation, and Support
1194.31   Information, documentation, and support.

Figures to Part 1194

    Authority: 29 U.S.C. 794d.

Subpart A--General


Sec. 1194.1  Purpose.

    The purpose of this part is to implement section 508 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794d). Section 508 
requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use 
electronic and information technology, Federal

[[Page 17363]]

employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and 
data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who 
are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be 
imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with 
disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or 
services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information 
and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not 
individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed 
on the agency.


Sec. 1194.2  Application.

    (a) When developing, procuring, maintaining, or using electronic 
and information technology, each agency shall comply with the 
requirements of this part, unless an undue burden would be imposed on 
the agency.
    (1) When compliance with the requirements of this part imposes an 
undue burden, agencies shall provide individuals with disabilities with 
the information and data involved by an alternative means of access 
that allows the individual to use the information and data.
    (2) When procuring a product, if an agency determines that 
compliance with any requirement of this part imposes an undue burden, 
the documentation by the agency supporting the procurement shall 
explain why, and to what extent, compliance with each such requirement 
creates an undue burden.
    (b) Except as provided by Sec. 1194.3(b), this part applies to 
electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, 
or used by agencies directly or used by a contractor under a contract 
with an agency which requires the use of such product, or requires the 
use, to a significant extent, of such product in the performance of a 
service or the furnishing of a product.
    (c) This part applies to products procured by agencies when such 
products are:
    (1) Available in the commercial marketplace;
    (2) Not yet available in the commercial marketplace, but through 
advances in technology or performance will be available in time to 
satisfy the delivery requirements under a Government solicitation; or
    (3) Developed in response to a Government solicitation.
    (d) Products required to be accessible shall comply with all 
applicable provisions of this part. Section 1194.21 provides 
requirements that apply generally to all products. Section 1194.23 
provides requirements for specific components of products and shall be 
applied to each component. Products may have more than one component. 
Section 1194.25 provides requirements for compatibility of products 
with assistive technology commonly used by individuals with 
disabilities. Section 1194.27 provides functional performance criteria 
for overall product evaluation and for technologies or components for 
which there is no specific requirement under other sections. Section 
1194.31 provides requirements for information, documentation, and 
support.


Sec. 1194.3  General exceptions.

    (a) This part does not apply to any telecommunications or 
information system operated by agencies, the function, operation, or 
use of which involves intelligence activities, cryptologic activities 
related to national security, command and control of military forces, 
equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system, or 
systems which are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or 
intelligence missions. Systems which are critical to the direct 
fulfillment of military or intelligence missions do not include a 
system that is to be used for routine administrative and business 
applications (including payroll, finance, logistics, and personnel 
management applications).
    (b) This part does not apply to electronic and information 
technology that is acquired by a contractor incidental to a contract.
    (c) Except as required to comply with the standards in this part, 
this part does not require the installation of specific accessibility-
related software or the attachment of an assistive technology device at 
a workstation of a Federal employee who is not an individual with a 
disability.
    (d) When agencies provide access to the public to information or 
data through electronic and information technology, agencies are not 
required to make equipment owned by the agency available for access and 
use by individuals with disabilities at a location other than that 
where the electronic and information technology is provided to the 
public, or to purchase equipment for access and use by individuals with 
disabilities at a location other than that where the electronic and 
information technology is provided to the public.
    (e) This part shall not be construed to require a fundamental 
alteration in the nature of a product or its components.


Sec. 1194.4  Definitions.

    The following definitions apply to this part:
    Accessible. Electronic and information technology which complies 
with the requirements of this part.
    Agency. Any Federal department or agency, including the United 
States Postal Service.
    Alternate formats. Alternate formats usable by people with 
disabilities may include, but are not limited to, Braille, ASCII text, 
large print, recorded audio, and accessible internet programming or 
coding languages.
    Alternate modes. Different means of providing information, 
including product documentation, to people with disabilities. Alternate 
modes may include, but are not limited to, voice, fax, relay service, 
TTY, Internet posting, captioning, text-to-speech synthesis, and audio 
description.
    Assistive technology. Any item, piece of equipment, or system, 
whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is 
commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities 
of individuals with disabilities.
    Electronic and information technology. Includes information 
technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of 
equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of 
data or information. The term electronic and information technology 
includes, but is not limited to, telecommunications products (such as 
telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide 
Web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers and fax 
machines. The term does not include any equipment that contains 
imbedded information technology that is used as an integral part of the 
product, but the principal function of which is not the acquisition, 
storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, 
switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or 
information. For example, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air 
conditioning) equipment such as thermostats or temperature control 
devices, and medical equipment where information technology is integral 
to its operation, are not information technology.
    Information technology. Any equipment or interconnected system or 
subsystem of equipment, that is used in the automatic acquisition, 
storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, 
switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or 
information. The term information technology includes computers,

[[Page 17364]]

ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, 
services (including support services), and related resources.
    Operable controls. A component of a product that requires physical 
contact for normal operation. Operable controls include, but are not 
limited to, mechanically operated controls, paper trays, card slots, 
keyboards, or keypads.
    Product. Electronic and information technology.
    Telecommunications. The transmission, between or among points 
specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing, without 
change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.
    TTY. An abbreviation for teletypewriter. Machinery or equipment 
that employs interactive text based communications through the 
transmission of coded signals across the telephone network. TTYs may 
include, for example, devices known as TDDs (telecommunication display 
devices or telecommunication devices for deaf persons) or computers 
with special modems. TTYs are also called text telephones.
    Undue burden. Undue burden means significant difficulty or expense. 
In determining whether an action would result in an undue burden, an 
agency shall consider all agency resources available to the agency or 
components for which the product is being developed, procured, 
maintained, or used.


Sec. 1194.5  Equivalent facilitation.

    Nothing in this part is intended to prevent the use of designs or 
technologies as alternatives to those prescribed in this part provided 
they result in substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of 
a product for people with disabilities.

Subpart B--Accessibility Standards


Sec. 1194.21  General requirements.

    (a) Color coding shall not be used as the only means of conveying 
information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or 
distinguishing a visual element.
    (b) Products which are freestanding, non-portable, and intended to 
be used in one location and which have operable controls shall comply 
with the following:
    (1) The position of any operable control shall be determined with 
respect to a vertical plane, which is 48 inches in length, centered on 
the operable control, and at the maximum protrusion of the product 
within the 48 inch length (see Fig. 1 of this part).
    (2) Where any operable control is 10 inches or less behind the 
reference plane, the height shall be 54 inches maximum and 15 inches 
minimum above the floor.
    (3) Where any operable control is more than 10 inches and not more 
than 24 inches behind the reference plane, the height shall be 46 
inches maximum and 15 inches minimum above the floor.
    (4) Operable controls shall not be more than 24 inches behind the 
reference plane (see Fig. 2 of this part).
    (c) When flashing or blinking text, objects, or other elements are 
displayed, the flash rate shall not exceed two Hertz.
    (d) If a timed response is required, at least one mode which does 
not require users to respond within a timed interval or allows users to 
adjust the timing and repetition of those intervals to at least 5 times 
the default setting, shall be provided.
    (e) Where biometric forms of user identification or activation are 
used, an alternative form of identification or activation, which does 
not require the user to possess particular biological characteristics, 
shall also be provided.
    (f) Where touchscreens or touch-operated controls are used, such 
controls shall be operable without requiring body contact or close 
human body proximity, or all of the operations and functions that are 
available through such controls shall be made available through an 
alternate mode that does not require body contact or close human body 
proximity.


Sec. 1194.23  Component specific requirements.

    (a) Mechanically operated controls, keyboards or keypads. (1) 
Controls and keys shall be tactilely discernible without activating the 
controls or keys.
    (2) The status of all locking or toggle controls or keys shall be 
visually discernible, and discernible either through touch or sound.
    (3) Controls shall be operable with one hand and shall not require 
tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required 
to activate controls shall be 5 lbs. (22.2 N) maximum.
    (4) All actions available or required by the product shall be 
available from the keyboard or keypad.
    (5) If keyboard repeat is supported, the keyboard delay before 
repeat shall be adjustable to at least 2 seconds. Key repeat rate shall 
be adjustable to 2 seconds per character.
    (b) Non-embedded software applications and operating systems.
    (1) Logical navigation among interface elements shall be provided 
by use of keystrokes.
    (2) Software shall not interfere with existing features of other 
products or operating systems that affect the usability for people with 
disabilities.
    (3) A well-defined on-screen indication of the current focus shall 
be provided that moves among interactive interface elements as the 
input focus changes. The focus shall be programmatically exposed so 
that assistive technology can track focus and focus changes.
    (4) Sufficient information about a user interface element including 
the identity, operation and state of the element shall be available to 
assistive technology.
    (5) Where an image represents an interface element or the state of 
an interface element, there must be a way for assistive technology to 
associate meaningful text with the image.
    (6) The use of images shall be consistent throughout an 
application.
    (7) Text shall be provided through an application programming 
interface supporting interaction with assistive technology or use 
system text writing tools. The minimum information that shall be 
available to assistive technology is text content, text input caret 
location, and text attributes.
    (8) A minimum of 8 foreground and 8 background color selections 
capable of producing a variety of contrast levels shall be provided.
    (9) An option shall be provided to ignore individual application 
display attributes so system-wide settings will be maintained.
    (10) Electronic forms shall allow people using assistive technology 
to access the information, field elements, and functionality required 
for completion and submission of the form including all directions and 
cues. Inaccessible electronic forms may be used, if an alternative 
accessible electronic form with equivalent information, field elements, 
and functionality is also provided.
    (11) If animated or moving text is provided it shall also be 
displayable in at least one static presentation mode at the option of 
the user.
    (c) Web-based information or applications.
    (1) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided 
via ``alt'' (alternative text attribute), ``longdesc'' (long 
description tag), or in element content.
    (2) Web pages shall be designed so that all information required 
for navigation or meaning is not dependent on the ability to identify 
specific colors.
    (3) Changes in the natural language (e.g., English to French) of a 
document's text and any text equivalents shall be clearly identified.

[[Page 17365]]

    (4) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without 
requiring an associated style sheet.
    (5) Web pages shall update equivalents for dynamic content whenever 
the dynamic content changes.
    (6) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region 
of a server-side image map.
    (7) Client-side image maps shall be used whenever possible in place 
of server-side image maps.
    (8) Data tables shall provide identification of row and column 
headers.
    (9) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells 
for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column 
headers.
    (10) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame 
identification and navigation.
    (11) Pages shall be usable when scripts, applets, or other 
programmatic objects are turned off or are not supported, or shall 
provide equivalent information on an alternative accessible page.
    (12) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall 
be synchronized with the presentation.
    (13) An appropriate method shall be used to facilitate the easy 
tracking of page content that provides users of assistive technology 
the option to skip repetitive navigation links.
    (d) Telecommunications functions. (1) Telecommunications products 
which provide a function allowing voice communication and which do not 
themselves provide a TTY functionality shall provide a standard non-
acoustic connection point for TTYs. It shall also be possible for the 
user to easily turn any microphone on and off to allow the user to 
intermix speech with TTY use.
    (2) Telecommunications products which include voice communication 
functionality shall support use of all cross-manufacturer non-
proprietary standard signals used by TTYs.
    (3) Voice mail, auto-attendant, and interactive voice response 
telecommunications systems shall be usable by TTY users with their 
TTYs.
    (4) Voice mail, messaging, auto-attendant, and interactive voice 
response telecommunications systems shall provide at least one mode 
which does not require users to respond within a timed interval or 
allows users to adjust the timing and repetition of those intervals to 
a minimum of 5 times the default.
    (5) Where provided, caller identification and similar 
telecommunications functions shall also be available for users of TTYs, 
telecommunications relay services, and for users who cannot see 
displays.
    (6) For transmitted voice signals, telecommunications products 
shall provide a gain adjustable up to a minimum of 20 dB. For 
incremental volume control, at least one intermediate step of 12 dB of 
gain shall be provided.
    (7) If the telecommunications product allows a user to adjust the 
receive volume, a function shall be provided to automatically reset the 
volume to the default level after every use but not before.
    (8) Where a telecommunications product delivers output by an audio 
transducer, which is normally held up to the ear, a means for effective 
magnetic wireless coupling to hearing technologies shall be provided.
    (9) Interference to hearing technologies (including hearing aids, 
cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices) shall be reduced to 
the lowest possible level that allows a user of hearing technologies to 
utilize the telecommunications product.
    (e) Video or multimedia products. (1) All television displays 13 
inches and larger, and computer equipment that includes television 
receiver circuitry, shall be equipped with caption decoder circuitry 
which appropriately receives, decodes, and displays closed captions 
from broadcast, cable, videotape, and DVD signals.
    (2) Television tuners, including tuner cards for use in computers, 
shall be equipped with secondary audio program playback circuitry.
    (3) All video and multimedia productions, regardless of format, 
that contain speech or other audio necessary for the comprehension of 
the content, shall be open or closed captioned if the production is 
procured or developed for repeated showings to audiences that may 
include people with hearing impairments.
    (4) All video and multimedia productions, regardless of format, 
that contain visual information necessary for the comprehension of the 
content, shall be audio described if the production is procured or 
developed for repeated showings to audiences that may include people 
with visual impairments.
    (5) Display or presentation of alternate text presentation or audio 
descriptions shall be user-selectable unless permanent.
    (f) Information kiosks and transaction machines. (1) Information 
kiosks and transaction machines shall be usable by people with 
disabilities without requiring an end-user to attach assistive 
technology to the information kiosk or transaction machine.
    (2) Where information kiosks and transaction machines deliver audio 
output, including speech, a mechanism shall be provided for private 
listening and user interruptability.
    (3) Where information kiosks and transaction machines deliver voice 
output, incremental volume control shall be provided with output 
amplification up to a level of at least 65 dB. Where the ambient noise 
level of the environment is above 45 dB, a volume gain of at least 20 
dB above the ambient level shall be user selectable.


Sec. 1194.25  Requirements for compatibility with assistive technology.

    (a) All products that act as a transport or conduit for information 
or communication shall pass through cross-manufacturer, non-
proprietary, industry-standard codes, translation protocols, formats or 
other information necessary to provide the information or communication 
in a usable format. Technologies which use encoding, signal 
compression, format transformation, or similar techniques shall not 
remove information needed for access or shall restore it upon delivery.
    (b) Where provided, at least one of each type of expansion slots, 
ports and connectors shall comply with publicly available industry 
standards.
    (c) Operating system software shall not interfere with assistive 
technology.
    (d) Products providing auditory output shall provide the auditory 
signal at a standard signal level through an industry standard 
connector.


Sec. 1194.27  Functional performance criteria.

    (a) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that 
does not require user vision shall be provided, or support for 
assistive technology used by people who are blind or visually impaired 
shall be provided.
    (b) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that 
does not require visual acuity greater than 20/70 shall be provided in 
audio and enlarged print output working together or independently, or 
support for assistive technology used by people who are visually 
impaired shall be provided.
    (c) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that 
does not require user hearing shall be provided, or support for 
assistive technology used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing 
shall be provided.
    (d) Where audio information is important for the use of a product, 
at least one mode of operation and information retrieval shall be 
provided in an enhanced auditory fashion.
    (e) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that 
does not

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require user speech shall be provided, or support for assistive 
technology shall be provided.
    (f) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that 
does not require fine motor control or simultaneous actions and that is 
operable with limited reach and strength shall be provided.

Subpart C--Information, Documentation, and Support


Sec. 1194.31  Information, documentation, and support.

    (a) Agencies shall ensure that any product support documentation 
provided by the agency to end-users, is available in alternate formats 
upon request, at no additional charge.
    (b) Agencies shall ensure that end-users have access to a 
description of the accessibility and compatibility features of products 
provided by the agency in alternate formats or alternate modes upon 
request, at no additional charge.
    (c) Agencies shall ensure that support services for products 
provided by the agency, will accommodate the communication needs of 
end-users with disabilities.
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Figures to Part 1194
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[FR Doc. 00-7719 Filed 3-30-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8150-01-C