What is the Access Board?

Date Updated

The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of the Board members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability. The Board was originally created in 1973 as the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, in accordance with Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act. It was charged with ensuring federal agency compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) and proposing solutions to environmental barriers addressed in the ABA.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and the 1998 Amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act each significantly expanded the Board's mandate. Specifically, Section 508 required that the Board develop accessibility standards for electronic and information technology (E&IT). In accordance with this requirement, the Board published its Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards in the Federal Register on December 21, 2000. This document includes technical standards for the following categories of E&IT:

  • Software applications and operating systems
  • Web-based intranet and internet information and applications
  • Telecommunications products
  • Video and multimedia products
  • Self contained, closed products
  • Desktop and portable computers

The Board today is now responsible for maintaining its E&IT standards, as well as its standards for the built environment, transit vehicles, and telecommunications equipment. It also is responsible for providing technical assistance and training on these guidelines and standards and for enforcing accessibility standards for federally funded facilities.

For more information about the Access Board, see the Access Board home page.