Sent in by Christian Vinten-Johansen


The proposed standards replace the current product-based approach with a functionality-based approach. The proposed technical requirements, which are organized along the lines of ICT functionality, provide standards to ensure that covered hardware, software, electronic content, and support documentation and services are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the proposed standards include functional performance criteria, which are outcome-based provisions for cases in which the proposed technical requirements do not address one or more features of ICT.

Given the trend toward convergence of technologies and ICT networks, the Access Board is updating the 255 Guidelines at the same time that it is updating the 508 Standards. The existing guidelines include detailed requirements for the accessibility, usability, and compatibility of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment. For example, the guidelines require input, output, display, control, and mechanical functions to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The compatibility requirements focus on the need for standard connectors, compatibility of controls with prosthetics, and TTY compatibility. The guidelines define “usable” as providing access to information about how to use a product, and direct that instructions, product information, documentation, and technical support for users with disabilities be functionally equivalent to that provided to individuals without disabilities. The proposed guidelines include many non-substantive revisions to the existing requirements for clarity along with a few important new provisions.

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