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Policy and Standards Development

A photography of American sign language interpreter B.J. Kamerer (right) communicated to the hearing impaired during Kareem Dale (left), Special Assistant to the President on Disability Policy.

​Systems Change Through Guidelines and Industry Standards

The Trace Center has been involved since the 1970s in development of guidelines and industry standards. In the past Trace developed and disseminated guidelines in response to new technologies or evolution of best practices.  Examples include early computer software and hardware accessibility guidelines, the first web accessibility guidelines, and electronic consumer product accessible design guidelines. In its earlier days the Center developed several connection standards used with assistive technologies and mainstream computers, several of which are still in use.  

[more here]

​Section on current industry standards, including URC and WCAG

(Read more about Trace's standards and guidelines in Success Stories.)

US Governmental Efforts

  • A Section 508 Web site has been established as part of an interagency effort, coordinated by GSA, the Access Board, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the Social Security Administration, to offer Section 508 technical assistance.
  • Access Board The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board is a federal agency responsible for developing standards and guidelines for accessibility in the areas of transportation, building design, and telecommunications, among others.
  • Disabilities Rights Office (DRO) Visit the FCC Disabilities Rights Office (DRO) web site to learn how to participate in the regulatory process and to find out the status of current regulations.
  • FCC Technological Advisory Council The Technical Advisory Council (TAC) provides advice to the Federal Communications Commission and makes recommendations on the issues and questions presented to the council by the FCC. The TAC Focus Group on Accessibility for Disabled Persons evaluates technical trends in telecommunications services and reports to the Commission any changes that might decrease the accessibility of telecommunications services by persons with disabilities.
  • General Services Administration (GSA) Center for Information Technology Accommodation (CITA) CITA serves as a clearing house and resource center on IT accessibility for the federal government. CITA is also examining the feasibility having a network of independent testing labs certify products as being accessible.
  • The Accessible Future - This report, released in June 2001 from the National Council on Disability, looks at federal enforcement of key laws (i.e., the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA], Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended) and how such enforcement relates to electronic and information technology. As used in this report, E&IT particularly involves the Internet, the World Wide Web, and select information/transaction machines.

US Laws and Regulations

  • Recent Government Laws Relating to Disability and Product Design - A brief overview of recent legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Telecommunications Act

  • Full Copy of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, PL 104-652
  • Excerpts of the Telecommunications Act dealing with disability issues - Sections 255,251, 305

Telecommunications Act - Section 255

  • Internet Telephony Notice of Inquiry - In section G., beginning at paragraph 173, of this Report and Order, the FCC requested comments on how the development of telephone communications via the Internet will effect accessibility. You can view comments submitted by corporations, organizations and individuals by searching the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Search for Proceeding number 96-198. See the FCC Disabilities Rights Office (DRO) site to learn about the procedures for submitting comments in the future.
  • View the comments of the Telecommunications Access RERC comments on Access to Telecommunications Service, Telecommunications Equipment and Customer Premises Equipment By Persons with Disabilities (submitted by the Trace Center and Gallaudet on Jan. 13, 2000).
  • Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines From the Access Board
  • Background Documents Leading to Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Section 255 From the Access Board

Telecommunications Act - Section 305

  • FCC's Final Report on Closed Captioning and Video Description

Telecommunications Act - Section 706

  • Notice of Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion - In February, 2000 the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry regarding Advanced Telecommunications Capability. The FCC specifically asked for input regarding access to Advanced Telecommunications Capability by persons with disabilities.
  • View the comments of the Telecommunications Access RERC in response the FCC Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion submitted on March 21, 2000.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments

  • Federal Acquisition Regulation; Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility
  • Section 508 Final Standards
  • Complete list of Comments to the Proposed Standards for Electronic and Information Technology (Section 508)
  • Trace Center comments on Section 508
  • Text of Section 508 From the Access Board
  • Frequently Asked Questions on 508 From the Access Board
  • Final Report from the Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory (EITAAC) for Section 508

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C. § 798

Section on regulatory and policy efforts; may need to break into subpages or subsections ...

  • 508/255 Refresh
  • EAAC
  • FCC Broadband Comments
  • FCC Comments on CVVA
  • Other Comments

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Government Resources for Regulatory Information Links

The following is a list of Web sites that Trace Center staff have found particularly useful to check for updated information on regulatory or other government activities related to information technology and telecommunications.


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Trace Research & Development Center
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
Room 2117 Hornbake Bldg, South Wing
4130 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Copyright 2016, University of Maryland
Tel: (301) 405.2043
Fax: (301) 314.9145
Trace Center