Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Great Lakes ADA Audio Conference. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct the Question and Answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require assistance, please press star and then 0 on your touch tone telephone. As a reminder this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to your host Robin Jones.
Great, Good afternoon and good morning to everyone depending on where you are joining us from across the country. Welcome to our session. Our session today is focusing on the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Section 255 the Telecommunications Act and the refresh, the pending refresh of those regulations. And we are being joined today by our speaker Tim Creagan and I will introduce Tim in a second. This program is being brought to you by the National Network of Regional ADA Centers across the country. It is hosted by the DBTAC - Great Lakes ADA Center. You all are here because you found the website or found information about the session. And I hope that you find it to be a valuable session for you today. Just a reminder, we do have people joining us in a variety of different modes today. We have people who are on the telephone, we have individuals using the streaming audio on the internet, and we have individuals using real-time captioning. Our speaker today will be presenting information and taking questions throughout this session. When we are ready to take questions, the Operator will ask you whether or not you want to ask a question and give you instruction on how to go about asking that question. The program is being recorded and a transcript is being created as well, which will be edited and posted to the website for future reference. And that website is again, www.ada-audio.org and the transcript is typically up on the web within 10 business days, with the holidays pending here, it might take a little bit longer than that but keep coming back and checking and you will be able to access both the recordings, the materials, and the transcript after that time period. In order to get us moving here, I am gonna just go right ahead and jump in and introduce our speaker today and then turn the podium over to him for the rest of the session. And that individual is as I said earlier Timothy Creagan. He is the Senior Accessibility Specialist with the US Access Board. He recently served as the Designated Federal Officer for the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee and Tim that is a mouthful right there, which prepared and submitted a report for recommendations to the Access Board concerning the refresh of the Section 508 standards and the Section 255 guidelines. Formerly, he was Director of the Consumer Training for ITTATC which is the program that was out of Georgia Tech and funded by NIDRR related to information technology, training and technical assistance. And he was Director of Public Policy for Hearing Loss Association for America formerly known as SHHH. He is a nationally recognized expert in accessible electronic and information technology and communications. Tim has spoken and written extensively on disability rights, digital wireless telephone, internet relay services, IVR systems and has testified before state legislators and multiple federal agencies on the importance of assisted technology to people with disabilities. He has his doctorate degree from Catholic, I am sorry, his JD degree, it is a doctorate, from Catholic University of America. So, we have a very well-qualified speaker today. I think you will all find the information very interesting. You should have a copy of Tim''s handout materials that were distributed through the website in your registration process and you will be referring to those throughout this session. So without further ado, I am going to turn it over to you, Tim.
Thank you, Robin. Good afternoon everyone and good morning for those of you in different time zones. I am calling from the east coast of the United States where it is about 2:00 in the afternoon. As Robin said we are sort of into the holiday season, we just had our office Christmas party today, so we are all feeling very jolly. I want to welcome everyone to this presentation. As Robin said, I am with the United States Access Board and we are in the middle of crafting an update or revision to two of the laws that we write standards and guidelines for. One is Section 508 the Rehabilitation Act and one is Section 255 the Telecommunications Act. I am going to talk today generally about what the two laws mean, some of the provisions, and then I am going to go into the Refresh itself. Why do you have a Refresh? What is some of the issues, and what is some of the recommendations that were made to the Access Board by the Advisory Committee that looked at the current standards and guidelines. With that, I would like to move on to the slide show presentation. For those of you that are following along with the slide show, what I am going to do is I am going to essentially repeat a lot of the information that is on the slides. I will assume that most of you have the information in front of you but I will hit all of the points in my speech. What I am also going to do is at various points, I am going to stop and ask if there are any questions after sections. So without further ado, let me move on to the slides entitled Todays topics. There are four points to my presentations today. The first part is the background, explaining what is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act? What is Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act? And the concept of accommodations versus accessibility. Once I have gone through the background of the standards and guidelines, then we are going to talk about why conduct a Refresh? What are the technological as well as legal reasons which compelled us to conduct a Refresh at this time? Then I am going to talk about the Refresh itself, which is what is called the acronym is TEITAC. Everything today is alphabet soup, TEITAC stands for Telecommunication, Electronic, and Information Technology Advisory Committee. And I am going to be talking about that a little bit later in the program and then finally I am going to talk about the recommendations of the report that was made to the Access Board. In between each of the sections, I am going to stop and ask if there are any questions from the audience. So, please feel free to speak up and ask if you have any questions. Alright, moving on to the first slide, Background. In this Background, we are going to talk about, little bit about, we have talked about the names of the laws. First of all, I am going to talk about the Access Board itself. The Access Board itself is a small independent federal agency. It is in the executive branch of the federal government, which means that we report directly to the President. We are governed by 25 members, a governing board. And then under that governing board, we have 28 employees, I am one of the 28 employees. The 25 members of the Access Board, 13 of them are public members appointed by the President of the United States for staggered four year terms. A majority of them have some sort of disability. The other 12 members are representatives of federal agencies and they are typically at the rank of what is called an Assistant Secretary or above. So it is fairly high ranking people in each of these agencies. And those are the Department of Justice, General Services Administration, Department of the Interior, Department of Labor, Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Housing and Urban Development, The Postal Services, Department of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs. These 12 agencies some of them have rule making authority themselves, so they work very closely with the Access Board in setting policy decisions, for instance as to which areas the Access Board should focus on in particular. They also make recommendations as to draft language for standards and guidelines when staff is preparing them for publications. We have a $6 million dollars budget and we have three organizational units. We have the Office of the Executive Director, we have a General Counsels Office and we have the Office of Technical and Information Services, which is where I am a member. Within the Access Board, there are three offices that are responsible for four main program areas. First area, which is what we are going to be talking about today, is guidelines and standards development. And within that guidelines and standards development, there are four main laws that the Access Board focuses on. First one is the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA), that everyone is very familiar with or at least have heard of. Telecommunications Act of 1996 otherwise known as Section 255 is the provision we are interested in and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. And again we are going to be focusing on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Those are within the guidelines and standards development. The agency develops standards and guidelines for each of these four laws. The difference between standards and guidelines has to do with legislative authority that is delegated to us by Congress. Congress has given us the authority to develop technical functional criteria for each of these four laws. For some of them, we have the authority to issue those provisions. When you can both develop something and issue it, it becomes a standard. And it becomes a law when the Access Board issues it. So in the case of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments 1998, in other words Section 508, the Access Board has the authority to both develop and issue standards under that law. When the Access Board issues them, they become law. From the other provisions, such as the Architectural Barriers Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Telecommunications Act, other agencies have primary responsibilities for issuing those laws. For instance, the Telecommunications Act is the primary authority of Federal Communications Commission which is charged by Congress with primary authority for telecommunications laws. So, we developed the technical criteria that helped described how to make a phone accessible to persons with disabilities, but it is up to the Federal Communications Commission to then take those standards, have a rule making of their own and then adopt them or not, and then they will become law in the United States. Similarly with the Architectural Barriers Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have issued guidelines which are in the process of being reviewed and adopted in whole or in parts by the Department of Justice among other agencies. Justice is going to issue a final rule on the ADA and the ABA sometime during January before the end of the current administration because the Department of Justice has the authority to do so. In addition to the standards and guidelines development, we also provide technical assistance and training, such as I am doing here today. We respond to peoples questions and then we go out and give trainings on various subject areas. We have a very small research budget about $450,000 a year, which varies. And we have a compliance and enforcement division. We are charged with enforcing among other things, the provisions of a law called UFAS which goes to federal facilities such as for example, post offices. So if someone finds that a post office is not accessible to them, it is a federal facility, it is considered a federal facility and it is covered under this law, so they would complain to our agency and our agency would follow up on the complain. And we would contact the particular post office entity and we would see if we could get the physical environment adjusted or amended so that people can access it either you know by wheelchair ramps or some other mean to make it accessible to people with disabilities. So those are the 4 main Access Board programs, guidelines and standards development, technical assistance and training, research, and compliance and enforcement. Now moving on, we are now going to go into an overview of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, formerly codified at 47 United States Code Section 255, it is commonly known as Section 255, and that is what we are going to be calling it today. The other law we are going to be talking about today is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973 as amended, codified at 29 United States Code Section 794 (d) and again that is Section 508 which is how we will be referring to it. Now when the Access Board does revision of standards and guidelines, we are required in the rule making process to periodically review and refresh or update the 508 Standards which are formerly known as the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards. Again, they are standards because we have the authority to first develop and issue them. Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards. Secondly, the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines, these are the guidelines under Section 255, which go to describe how telephones are made accessible. Again, because we do not have primary authority to issue the regulation, we can develop them but it is the responsibility of the Federal Communications Commission to issue them and to adopt them as law, because they are guidelines for us. Finally, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, the ADA Guidelines which we will be talking about, also briefly today. So, these are the three areas that we are going to be talking about today. First of all, what are we talking about? When we talk about electronic and information technology, often known as E&IT, Section 508 requires that federal employees with disabilities and members of the public with disabilities seeking information or services, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by persons who are not individuals with disabilities unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. So what does that mean? So what it is saying is that an agency essentially, always, has to provide equivalent access to people with disabilities, both federal employees and members of the public who are seeking information from a federal agency unless it would be an undue burden on the agency. What is an undue burden? Well, case law described it as significant difficulties or expense. What does that mean? There is no dollar amount placed on it. But it is essentially considered something that would be so onerous, a burden you know. Essentially, let say that it would be, lets say that to make something accessible on an agencys website would be, I dont know, lets say 80% of an agencys operating budget to do that, well then maybe you would consider that an undue burden to do that. So therefore you know, you would not have to make that accessible but the chances are very great that most of the time you would have to make it accessible as an agency because an undue burden standard is almost impossible to meet. In contrast, we have the Telecommunications Act. The Telecommunications Act applies to a different audience. 508 applies to the federal government. Telecommunications Act applies to manufacturers and service providers who must ensure that products are designed, developed and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Or they have to ensure that products and services are compatible with assistive technology commonly used by individuals with disabilities to achieve access unless it is not readily achievable to do so. So what does that mean? What that is saying is, if you are a phone company, you develop phone equipment that is used at the users premises or you provide services that the consumer uses, those services and that equipment have to be usable directly by people with disabilities. So for instance, lets say you are a person with a hearing loss, you would have to provide some built-in feature in the phone which allows that person with a hearing loss to use it. So an example might be having a volume control switch in the hand set of the phone. That is a way you can have built-in accessibility for the phone. Another thing you could do is, lets say that the person has a fairly significant hearing loss, they wear hearing aids. Well, hearing aids in general will feedback on many phones or against, when they are put against any hard surfaces, they feedback or squeal. Now phones can be developed that are called hearing-aid compatible. What that means is the phone has a certain amount of shielding built into it and it minimizes the interference for phones to interfere with hearing aids. So those are two ways for something can work directly for the person or it can work directly with some technology that the person would use such as it did worked with the persons hearing aid. The hearing aid is what actually providing the volume control for the person in this case but the phone works for the person with the hearing aid. And it has to be done when it is readily achievable to do so. What does readily achievable means? Well, readily achievable means without significant difficulties or expense. So, this is a much, much easier burden to meet than undue burden. So if something isnt quick or cheap or easy, then you essentially dont have to do it. So, what you have are two laws, and you have two different standards of review. One is imposed on federal agencies and it applies almost always. The other law is applied on manufacturers and service providers, and it applies when an inexpensive and convenient to comply with it. So two different standards, two different levels of review. Okay, moving on. We talked about these different laws, what are some of the differences you find between the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which talks about entities receiving federal funds show how accessible programs and services, Section 508 and Section 255, what are some of the differences between those various laws? Well, first of all, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 do not regulate the design of technology. They are primarily based on the individual. It is a unique solution for a person. Section 508 requires the federal entities to develop, procure and maintain accessible electronic information technology. Its primary focus on the technology and it is available to anyone, either an employee or a consumer of government goods and services. So 508 doesn''t really care who uses the computer or the copy machine or even the telephone because the solution to make it accessible to the user are built-in. So they don''t really care particularly which user it is. Just that there are certain basic features found in the electronic equipment that make it usable by people with disabilities. And finally Section 255, applies to telecommunications manufacturers and service providers. And it requires them to provide accessible goods and services. So these three laws, two of them are focused on individual rights, and the other two are focused on the technology itself. Continuing with that theme, we look at the concept of accommodation versus accessibility. An accommodation is particular. It is person-centered and it occurs after the fact. In other words, the product has already been made. The computer has already left the factory. The copy machine has already been designed and developed, so the controls and keys are at a certain height or whatever. You can''t change it. In order to make it usable by someone with a disability, you have to come up with a custom solution just for them. So that is an accommodation and it is really more of a civil rights issue. Accessibility is different. Accessibility applies to all products that a federal agency buys that are considered electronic and information technology. It is built right into the products themselves and it is mandated by Section 508, not 504. Now an accommodation is a built-in feature, and it is focused on the technology. There is not so much concerns about who is going to be using it but what is the functionality of the product needs to do. And so, the functionality of the product needs to be that it works for people with low vision, then they will put in features to address that. Similarly, persons who have reach issues such as people in wheelchairs, the controls and keys would have to be a certain maximum distance from the front plan of the device. Finally, this is focus on procurement arena. And this kicks in anytime a federal agency acquires, develops, leases or modifies existing technology. So those are the two differences. One is person focused, one is technology focus. Alright, at this point, I would like to pause for just a moment and see if there are questions or comments from anyone before I continue.
Ladies and gentlemen on the phone line, if you have a question, please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone. If your question has been answered, or you wish to remove yourself from the queue, please press the pound key. Again, if you have a question, please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone.
I am showing no questions at this time, sir.
You are? Okay, go ahead please.
No, there are no questions at this time.
There are no questions? Okay. Alright, what I will do then is I will move on. Like I said, I will be stopping periodically throughout the presentation after each particular section. This next section I am going to be talking about the laws themselves. The first law that I am going to be talking about is Section 255 the Telecommunications Act and this is an overview of the law. First of all, the purpose of Section 255 is to ensure that people with disabilities have access to telecommunications services and related equipment. And this statement comes from the Federal Register, November 19, 1999 when the law was published in the Federal Register. So it wants to make sure that peoples needs are addressed. What does section 255 require? Again like we talked about a little minute ago, it requires that manufacturers and service providers make their services accessible to people with disabilities. And ensure that products and services are compatible with assistive technology commonly used by individuals with disabilities to achieve access. So we know who it is directed to, and we know what they have to do. What is some of the general requirements? Well, manufacturers have to provide equipments that are accessible and they have to include representations from people with disabilities in the processes and product design, development and evaluation. Okay now, why is this important? The reason this is important is because a lot of times, people with disabilities have a greater awareness of solutions that may work better for them for certain types of technologies. For instance, if someone has hearing aid, they may say that they want, they prefer to make use of their residual hearing until they find a solution that allows them to use their hearing and get some supplemental visual cues to tell them what is being said, such as you would find in a Relay Service. So the slide that talks about Section 255 general requirements, has a picture of a phone that has an LED on the front of it which displays the text of what is being said by the caller on the other end. This particular brand of phone is called the CapTel phone and is primarily used in relay conference calls. So for instance, a user would pick up the phone, and they would dial 711 to get relay, and they will get, there will be a relay operator who would answer the call and then the call would be placed to the person on the other end. The person on the other end would start speaking and voice recognition software will translate their words into text which will then appear on the screen on this end of the phone where the person using the CapTel phone is. So, they will be able to both hear the persons voice over the phone as well as see the text appearing before their eyes. Again, the question is what is the solution that people want, that is going to be most useful to them. If they want to make use of their residual hearing this is where that this can happen. Similarly people may want large buttons that were tactilely discernable. Or they may want large buttons with a lot of contrast, because the contrast may help them to make use of what vision they have. So people with low vision may want to maximize their residual vision. Again, that is why it is important to ask people with disabilities as part of the design process, what is some of the features that they are looking for in a product. They may not want voice-operate as a solution in a phone if they have low vision. You know a manufacturer might say well, if you cant see or if you have trouble, we will just make everything audible. And someone may say well but you know what I dont want it to be audible, I dont want everybody around me to hear the background when I am trying to program my phone and I dont feel like putting in an earphone jack just to operate the phone. I would rather use my vision to locate the keys and go through the menu, whatever. But it is the type of thing that is why it is important to involve people in the design process. Now, this next slide works very well with a live audience. You guys are certainly live but we cannot get too much response from each other. What this is, is a picture of two cell phones that are being held up. And the question is, how accessible is one phone over the other? And when I present this, typically this slide is interactive. When you first start of, it is just a phone on the left which is blue and a phone on the right which is red. And I want to show everybody before we go any further, there is absolutely no political connotation to these phones. I know it is election year but these happened to be bright colors that we picked that were very visible when we took the pictures. Anyway, so the question is you know, just arbitrarily from looking at the phone, so which one looks more accessible than the other one? And people make a choice and then what I do is I go through the different features of the various phones. And the three features we are going to talk about are the on/off switch, the volume control and the text size that appears on the screen on the phone. The first issue the on/off button, the on/off button on the blue phone, is located on the top upper right hand corner of the face of the blue phone. It is tactilely unique and tactilely discernable because it is the only button on the entire phone that is round and it is the only button that is on the entire phone is located on the top of the phone right next to the antenna. On the other hand, the red phone, the button is on the side of the phone and you cannot even see it when you hold the phone up. You have to tilt the phone to look at the edge because the button is right on the edge next to other buttons which look just like it. So the blue phone is a better design because tactilely discernible, it is geographically distinct, and it is easier to find. Second feature, volume control, again, the blue phone is better choice. Why? Because the volume control button is fairly large. It is a rocker switch, meaning that it goes back and forth on each end and it is shaped like a crescent moon. And again, it is the largest button on the phone and it is the only button that is shaped like that, it is located in the middle of the phone off to the right of center. And it is just more usable. The red phone again, it has a button for volume control but it is located on the edge of the phone off to the side. And it is not very easy to find it. So again, the design of the blue phone is a little more usable, a little more user friendly. Finally, the text size on the screen, there is only one option given and that is text size on the red phone is, text size is 10 points. There is not really a text size on the blue phone, is smaller and not as easy to see. So the red phone, in this one regard, the text size and the menu, it is more easy to see it for people who use vision. So the point of this slide is two-fold. One is, it is just so you cannot always tell which phone has better features just by looking at it. A lot of times you have to actually use the features and see where they are and see how they work. Secondly, phones are not all good or all bad. Some phones have some features that are better than others and it is really up to the purchaser to make a decision. Which do I need? What is more important to me when I am purchasing a phone? It is 508 invites that balancing, that comparison of interest. Alright, are there any questions now about Section 255 before I move on? Operator if you can just ask?
Once again, if you have a question, please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone.
I am showing no questions at this time, sir.
Alright. Thank you, Operator. Alright, moving on, I am going to talk about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 talks about, requires federal agencies when they develop, maintain, procure or use and purchase accessible E&IT, through the procurement process must make them accessible to people with disabilities. They must acquire and procure accessible E&IT. And if they do not do that, the enforcement mechanisms are complaint which can result in legal actions. Most commonly the complaint process follows that outline under Section 504 the Rehabilitation Act and complaints may often be brought through an agencys office which handles 504 complaints. Most frequently it is the Equal Opportunity Office. The most common form of relief is injunctive relief, meaning that the agency will be required or forced to make its product accessible. And in some cases, a person maybe able to get attorneys fees, but the person himself is not entitled to monetary damages, it is injunctive relief only. Now, who must comply with 508? All federal department and agency and the post office, when procuring, developing, maintaining and using E&IT. Okay. Who benefits from 508? People with disabilities who interact with federal agencies obviously. Because if someone with disability is trying to get information off a website for instance, about benefits, like social security or they are trying to do online filing with the Internal Revenue Service, being able to use online forms whether you are blind or have motor impairments, but still being able to use that online is a tremendous, tremendous help. So, that is why 508 benefits them. Secondly, federal employees, people who work for the federal agencies who have a disability. Remember, this is their workplace, so having equipment that is usable by people with disabilities is very important whether it is phones that provides alternate means of giving the information, either texturally, visually, or by enhanced audio such as lighter volume. Copy machines where the control keys are in appropriate reach range for people in wheelchairs, machinery where the equipments the controls and keys are tactilely discernable without turning the machine on, like the computer for instance by people who are blind. These are just some examples of some of the technologies found in the workplace where it is very important to make sure that the products are 508 compliance. And finally, all people with disabilities benefit from the 508 because the idea is accessible products developed for the federal market place may also be sold in the private sector. And so those products become available in the private sector, people in the private sector may use and benefit from that. So this is the purpose. Finally, we take a look at what technology is covered. The examples of technology that are covered are computers like I had talked about, PCs or laptops, printers, software, whether the software in loaded on your own individual workstation or on a web server, it is still considered software and still required to be accessible under 508. Telecommunications products and services, examples given on this slide, talked about an interactive voice response system. So when someone dials a phone number, and they get a computer generated voice saying you know, you have reached Santa''s Workshop, okay, that might be a call that one of your children might make this time of the year, and they might say you know, you have reached Santas workshop, for you know questions about toys press 1, for delivery dates and times press 2, for directions to Santas Workshop press 3, etc. That is an example of an interactive voice response system. 508 would require that that be accessible to people with disabilities. Ways that it can be made accessible can include increasing the volume or you may want to provide extra time for people to hear and react to the responses on the phone call. Telecommunication kiosks are another device. Often you will see them perhaps in museums or somewhere where it allows people to get information. Other examples are office equipments such as software, scanners or printers, and then finally websites. All of these are examples of things which you would find usable covered by Section 508. Now, the standards themselves are broken up into three primary sections. One is the technical standards, which are themselves broken up into six product areas. And those product areas are software, web based internet and intranet information applications, telecommunications products, video and multimedia products, self-contained closed products such as small things like copiers and so forth, kiosk, and then finally desktops and portable computers. Those are covered by the technical standards. Then there is section on functional performance criteria. The functional performance criteria talks to what is the ultimate purpose of what the product is suppose to do. So in other words, it has to provide one means of operation which does not require users sight for instance. It has to provide one means of operation which is not required users hearing, it has to provide one means of user operation which does not require mobility or fine motor control such as using your hands, your fingers for instance. These are all examples of things that are covered under functional performance criteria. And then finally you have the information, documentation, and support which say that whatever information is provided about the product, the feature and so forth has to be provided in accessible format to the individual at no additional charge. So if someone needs the instructions in Braille, they should get it in Braille. If they needed it in large print format, they should get it in large print. So those are how the standards are organized. Okay. That is the end of the section on the laws and the overview. Any questions at this point before we move on? Operator, if you could just ask if anyone has any questions at this point.
Once again, if you have a question please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone. We do have a question, sir.
Okay. Go ahead please. Okay.
Can you please discuss what the term "maintain" means under Section 508?
Okay, the question can I please say what procurement means?
No. Can you please discuss what the term maintain means?
Oh, maintain means. That would be maintenance of a product. So for instance, let''s say that a program has software, operating system software and lets say that you have Windows, lets say you have Windows 2005 and you are going to upgrade to Windows 2007 or something else, then you need to, those upgrades need to be accessible. In other words you cannot maintain a product and make it less accessible than it was before. Another example would be, let''s say that an agency issues everybody a cell phone or a device that has tactilely discernible controls and keys, and one of the ways that the keys are made tactilely discernable is if they got little raised nubs on them. Okay. That is accessible because again, you can distinguish them by other means other than sight. But lets say that in the course of some sort of you know upgrade, the agency says you know, it would be really great idea to issue everybody a zip pouch for your device and so we are going to give you this really cool holder for the firm that has a clear plexiglass cover that fits over the buttons, say you can still press the buttons but you are now able to use this holder because it has a clip on the back and you can clip it to your belt. So they are going to say it is more functional, it is more usable. Well the problem is, it is actually less accessible because you removed the tactilely discernable element of the controls and keys. So the question of maintaining it, you have upgraded the system because of a periodic refresh, obviously software or if you changed features. Whatever those changes are they have to be accessible as well. That is what 508 is saying. You cannot buy a product that was initially accessible and then later make it inaccessible by changes or upgrades to it.
Any other questions?
Once again, if you have a question, please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone.
Okay. Alright, what I am going to do is I am going to move on at this point and then I am going to stop after each section. The section where I am at right now is called Section II, Why do we need a Refresh? Well, first of all lets talk about what we are talking about when we say a refresh. The goal of this refresh or revision process is to have understandable, clear design criteria that everyone can apply. And the statement from a man named Marc Guthrie who was an Access Board public member, he gave a speech in Brussels, Belgium in 2004 and what he said was, we agree that what is needed are clear, consensus driven, testable, and reliable accessibility requirements. In this world of global scales, it is critical that accessibility requirements be harmonized throughout the world. Meaning that they agree from country to country the standards are the same. Product manufacturers want to build to a single set of requirements. Or at least not be faced with competing world wide requirements. We should do what we can to facilitate this because ultimately if we can make the regulatory process easier to achieve and by that I do not mean that we need to weaken the requirements that exist today, we will enhance accessibility for people with disabilities worldwide. Okay, that is the goal to try and to make standards that are understandable, testable, verifiable and common throughout the world. Also, we need revisions because the Access Board is required under the law. Under Section 508 and under Section 255 to periodically update and review the standards and guidelines. Now, in the case of the Telecommunications standards and guidelines, they were issued in 1998 and they have not been updated since, so that is 10 years ago. The Section 508 standards were issued in 2000 and became effective in 2001, they have not been updated in 7 years. As you know, there are very few people are probably using computers or phones at work that are the same as they were 7 or 9 years ago because technology changes, technology advances. And it is very important to keep up to date with modern technological developments. So, moving on. Another reason why we need revision is, the Access Board, because we are the ones who developed the technical standards, we get a lot of requests and technical assistance saying, you know what does this means? Or, I just bought a new device, it was just invented last week, how do I determine what it is and whether or not it is accessible? So, is this thing a telephone? Does it fit into one of you existing category? Is it software? Is it web, internet or intranet? Is it a telecommunications product, et cetera. What is it? How do I define it? What features do I need to have? And for some products it is not easy to tell what it is. Many of us today have phones that do a lot more than just provide voice communication. They may provide voice communication, they may have connections to the internet, so they may provide text input, they may provide voice output, they may provide for web surfing. So if someone comes to me and says I have what is called a smart phone, so it has a computer, it has internet, it is capable of entering data, I can type on it, I can do a lot of different things and I can get phone calls on it and take pictures. So, what is this? So you know, that is not easy to evaluate. So the question is, we need to revise the standards to reflect that our technology has changed. We also need to make the standards more testable because sometimes people just don''t understand. Well this talked about web and software, but I have software but it is not on my PC. My software is hosted on the server, which is the virtual server that is on the network, and it is you know sort of out in space somewhere. So, how does that apply? What do I use? The web or the software provisions? And in that case the answer would be you would use both of them. Because at the time the standards were written and released back in 2000, the technological situation was often found that software was hosted on PCs. And that the web or the internet were the only things that were out there that were separate and apart from the computer. But now, you can have a mingling of features in different products. So, the standards need to be revised to reflect that. Also the convergence of products and other products that did not exist such as wireless technology. And finally, we need to be cognizant of the fact that other countries are addressing accessibility issues as well. The samples of changed technologies for instance, would be iPods and podcasting. For those of us who have used and we have seen them, you know iPods are little devices about, they can be 2 inches by 3 inches or smaller or bigger, they have a membrane that you push and turn to operate them. The standards that we have talked about controls and keys as if we were still talking about buttons and levers and switches. They do not really talk about push and turn membranes. So we need to reflect the changing standards to reflect that. Also, podcasting itself, the material can either all audible or it can be audible and visual. How is that information made accessible to people with disabilities? It is simple, it is enough to just post a transcript of a podcast? Maybe. But, what if it is a podcast and it is a video cast? Well then you have to provide synchronized captioning of the video cast so that people can both see the picture and see the written words. Similarly you have to provide video description. So, these are questions that come up all the time. The technology has changed and the current standards did not have these technologies in mind when they were written. The standards still apply, so that is why we need to re-write the standards to make them clear. Another example of a technology is Voice over The Internet (VoIP) phones. That is a technology that did not exist back in 1999, it was not in common use. And the issue that came up is, Voice over the Internet Protocol, the technology transmit data in part over the internet. It used to be that Congress''s attitude was that anything that goes over the internet is not regulated. So, the concern was, is the Voice over the Internet Protocol found by definition an internet service and therefore not regulated. Well, no. Because the FCC, a year-and-a-half ago made a decision that a telecommunication system is a telecommunication system. And whether it is transmitted over the internet or not, it is still regulated by Section 255. So Section 255 does apply. So, these are the kind of issues that come up. So, just to sum up, some of the issues of that TEITAC (Telecommunications, Electronic, and Information Technology Advisory Committee), some of the issues that the committee was going to be faced with were the conversion of technology, the Voice over The Internet Protocol, change in the concept of self-contained closed products. Self-contained closed products used to be thought of as products which were too small and not capable of attaching assistive technology to. For instance, information kiosk or information transaction machines, copiers, printers, calculators, fax machines, and other types of products. What you have to do is you have to build in the technological solution right away. So, you may have to put in voice output to make the controls discernable to someone with low vision. You may have to put in tactile controls for someone who could not see them. You have to put them within someone''s reach range. But nowadays, closed products may also include products whose functionality has been cutoff by the agency itself. So, for instance, if you have a laptop or a PC that is hooked to the intranet in the office, the IT department may have shut off your ability to alter the font size for security reason or they may have limited your ability to load assistive technology software for security reason. So that product has become closed in the sense that some of the functionality has been closed off, not because of the design of the product but because of a policy consideration. So this is something that the TEITAC needed to consider in revising, making recommendations to revise the standards. Finally, you have changed user interface. When I say user interface, user interface is the concept of how the human being interact with the technology. Most common example would be someones fingers interacting with the keyboard. Now you type or you are looking at a screen on a computer, that is the user interface. But you can have user interfaces where you never make contact with anything. You just have touch adjustor to operate a device. Again, the standards do not really address that. So it is something to look at. Finally, the idea of synchronized media such as audio casts, video casts, those are things to look at and assistive technology is something that we always need to consider. This next slide is called Convergence of Technology. This is slide 29 in the presentation for those of you that are following along. I have two examples of two types of modern day technology. One is web applications and web-software. And I have given an example of some type of Wiki. For those of you who have been online, who ever looked at the website for Wikipedia, it is an online encyclopedia. And to a certain extent it is what they called Web 2.0. in a sense that it is interactive. People can go online and with the right condition they can enter content into the website which is then shared by all. That is new, that never existed before. Also, the other image is the screen capture of a Google spreadsheet for I think it is an accounting program. And that is just an example of something that where normally you would have PC software installed on the PC itself, the personal computer, now that software is somewhere out on the web. And you access the website, you go out, you enter your data in your spreadsheet and then you log off. And that information resides out on the web, it does not reside on your PC. So again, the standards, the distinction between web versus software is getting blurred. Finally, the example here is a picture of a cell phone with text messaging. And what it looks like is someone who has a large device strapped to the wrist and it looks like a phone or a combination of a phone and a watch, and somebody is using a stylus to type out a message. So these are examples of devices that did not exist before, they have all kinds of features, and the question is how do we make them accessible to people with disabilities? The next slide talks about the use of assistive technology in main stream products. The idea of speech input and output in products is much more common. Like for instance, having cell phones with voice operated, you know, such as get me the directory, call mom, that sort of thing. Even the example in automobiles, you may be familiar with several months ago there was a commercial on television for a car which has a feature where you could actually call home. And a young woman is driving a car and while she got her hands on the wheels, she says to the car, call mom. And she activates a voice activated phone in the car, and when it dials up and calls her mother. And this is much more common, this used to be the story of science fiction. These are an everyday product. Well, if then everyday products are something that the government might issue, they need to be usable by and accessible to people with disabilities. Another example of interactive text or instant messaging, again how do you make that accessible to people with disabilities? You know, people using Treos and Sidekicks to text message back and forth, this need to be accessible, change the font size, change the background color, maybe provide for larger input keys, whatever it takes to make that technology accessible for people with disabilities. And finally there is something called an API, an Application Programming Interface, which addresses the compatibility responses between assistive technology and information technology software. This is the situation where you have a product and the product maybe the software that operates a computer, so the operating system like Microsoft''s. Microsofts operating system operates Windows and then you are trying put in assistive technology such as Dolphin, now Dragon Naturally Speaking, JAWS screen reader talks. The question is, how those two software interoperate? And there is a slide called API (Application Programming Interface): how 2 pieces of software interact with each other. So again, these are all issues that the TEITAC, the committee is going to have to deal with because this is technology that is new, it is in much greater use than it was at the time the original standards were written back in the late 90s and early 2000. Next slide is talking about examples of multi-touch and gesture interfaces. And what it is, is you can have touch interfaces on mobile devices. An example would be Apple, Apple iPhone. Perfect example, that is not very usable by someone who is blind. Because how they can follow what is going on from screen to screen because it is not tactile discernable. You need to be able to see where you are touching. So, that is a question. Another example is the idea where you would move several fingers at once to operate the system. And on the slide, I have a screen capture of someone using a product, I believe, it is by Microsoft called Table. And what they can do, is they are manipulating images on screen. Almost like in this case, like they are doing layouts, what they used to call in the old days when people would layout pieces of paper on a tabletop to see how a column would look or something like that. Here they are using their fingers to touch the screen and move things around. Similarly, the other screen capture is the picture of the actor Tom Cruise wearing gloves on his fingers, and he got his fingers in front of his face and gesturing with both hands. And this is an example and he is spreading his fingers apart and he is using that to operate a computer that is across from him. This is a still from the movie Minority Report for anybody who has seen it. What it is, is he is using this technology to operate the system without ever touching it. Again, this is the type of technology, it is new, this technology exist in 2000, it was not in common use. Now, it is much more common, the questions is, how do we address it? Finally, moving on, the question, what are other countries doing? How can we harmonize our standards with what they are working on? It is the map of the world, and at this time some of the companies that are working on standards in the respective countries, are Japan, Australia, Canada, European Commission. Other countries that are looking at the issues are Korea, China, India. They are all very interested in this, okay, what is this standard for making something accessible and they look at the United States because the United States is the leader in this area. Now, coming back again to the issues we are facing. What are the intended audiences and what are the levels of efforts? Remember, the Telecommunications Act, the accessibility guidelines applies to manufacturer that is Section 255. And have to make sure that telecommunications equipment is designed, developed and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities if it is readily achievable. By contrast, Section 508, the E & IT electronic accessibility standards applies to federal agencies and it says when the agency develop, procure, maintain, or use in IT, it has to be accessible to or useable by federal employees who are people with disabilities and members of the public with disabilities unless it would be an undue burden imposed on the agency. So again, when you are looking at these two sets of standards, you have two audiences and you have two levels of review. And then the next question comes okay so why didn''t the agency just sit there and rewrite the laws themselves? I mean, you guys are smart people, you brought up all these issues, why cant you just sit there and rewrite the laws yourselves? Well, because when you have an advisory committee, an advisory committee is a group of individuals from companies and trade associations, and consumer organizations and so forth who are outside of government, who work with the technology, who maybe experts in the area, who can bring a variety of viewpoints to the table. And they ultimately help you develop a better regulation. If you have someone looking at an issue from every side, by the time you get through writing a standard on it, it helps you a lot in figuring out what you need. Also, 508 requires that the agencys reviews and advisory committees, requires that we consult with others when we are developing new standards or guidelines. Similarly with 255, this is an important thing to do. So then the question is, okay so if you did this, why have one rule making? Well, because when it comes down to it, when we talk about telecommunications, we talk about convergence of products. Products have multiple features, products are not just telephones anymore. They are not just computers, they have all of these features. So the laws overlapped in their applications. So when an agency goes to buy a telecommunications products, let''s say they are going to buy Smart Phones for the people in their agency. Well, a Smart Phone typically has not only voice capability but it also may be capable of transmitting text and data and also surfing the internet as an example. So these are examples of where both the 508 standards and the telecommunications guidelines would apply. So it is decided to address both of these in one rule making. Okay, and just remembering that the audience and levels of effort for each law are different. Okay. Now I am going to talk about the actual committee itself. Are there questions at this time before I continue?
Once again, if you have a question, please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone. We have a question.
I wanted to make a mention of the Dragon Naturally Speaking, the brand new version that they have out now. I bought a brand new computer, it was a good thing that I read up on the new Dragon Naturally Speaking because it said that it had to be a 32-bit operating system, other brand new computers that has 64-bit operating system. If I would not have accidentally ran across that information, I could have brought a brand new computer with brand new software and they would not have been compatible.
That is right. That is right. And you brought up a very good point. One of the things you have to worry about is technology gets updated all the time. New products come out on an average of every 6 months. The cycle is very short but the technology, assistive technology doesn''t necessarily keep pace. First of all, because the market for the assistive technology is not as large and so the drivers for change are not as acute. So while an operating system developer may be empowered to try to change, to make changes to their operating system frequently, that does not mean that the assisted technology has kept the pace. So you are very true, you are very accurate in saying that. One of the issues that has actually come up, for those of you who have been following over the last two years, you know Microsoft has come out with their new system VISTA, which has been you know problematic at best. It has a lot of issues but one of the things that Microsoft wanted to do was at an early stage in the development process they allowed certain assistive technology manufacturers access to the code so that they can help to develop accessible assistive technology products which will work with VISTA. Now, as it happened, the process worked so that the assistive technology that was compatible with VISTA actually came out before VISTA did. But the concerns that manufacturers have of keeping their operating system software and their assistive technology software in sync, in compatible is a considerable one. So it is a very, very good example. You raised a point that a consumer really needs to be aware of what they are buying. And they need to see what the technical requirements are before they just go out and purchased it. Okay, any other questions at this time?
We do have a question.
Yes, since the Access Board is acquiring $6 million budget a year, what has constrained the Board from staying up with the technology? Why aren''t the standards changed? What is holding us back?
Well, the rule making process is actually fairly lengthy and I am going to show you that in this next provision if I can sort of hold off on answering the details of your question. And then the second question is going to be, well, if it is so lengthy, why do you do it? Because we are required to do so by law. The purposes, the United States rule making law process is unusual around the world, as in it is unusually open. It is unusually available to public inspection and public input. And the reason for that is because they want people to see what is going on and they want people to have the opportunity to provide input to technical design criteria, so that when the final standards are issued, people with comply with them and people will understand them better.
I understand what you are saying, but you also said that the other countries are looking towards United States as lead on this process. So, we are 8 years behind now, is there another 8 years before we get anything done?
My real question is, why did it take 8 years?
No, we are not going to take 8 years. Well, I suppose the question is, why did we wait 8 years? Is that your question?
And the answer to that is, there is no particular reason. The law does not dictate how often you are supposed to update or refresh them. So, it is just sort of, kind of a sufficient time path and see when it is time to update stuff. There is a certain point where you can update standards and then you can use them for a long time. And your interpretations fit the situation, and your interpretations become clearer and developed over time. But you get to a certain point where things are so different from where you started that you need to update them. In the case of technology you know 8 and 10 years is a long time in the market place, in terms of government regulations that is fairly quick. Alright, let me move on at this point to talk about the committee process and then give you all some overviews of when we think we may actually be seeing some new standards and guidelines. With that, I would like to move on to the next slide which is roman numeral III TEITAC and that is the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee, TEITAC. This is a real alphabet soup here, that is how you know this is the governments technology training. For those of you who are linguists, I have been told that when you use the spelling TEITAC, should actually be pronounced TEETAC but I told those people that I was going to pronounce it TAITAC, because it was easier to remember and because at the end of the committee I was going to give all the committee members a TAITAC as a memento of their work. So, we did do that and it was a big set. The committee started in July of 2006, that was 2 years ago. And we recruited broadly across the United States and around the world for committee members. We ended up with members from the federal agencies from representatives of the information and communications technology industry and also assistive technology and their related trade associations. So for instance that means we got specific companies, like we got AT&T and we got Microsoft and Microsoft trade associations. So we got not only the individual companies but we also got companies that represent a whole other number of companies in the field. We got standards organizations, consumer advocates such as Easter Seals and so forth, we got researchers and developments, and national and international experts. This next slide, are the members of the TEITAC. What I am going to do is I will just skim through this very quickly. There are 42 organizations on here, we started off with two of them merged in the course of the preceding Cingular merged into AT&T. So we have 41. And some of the members are Adobe Systems, which makes PDF which many of you use in your daily life and the big question of how to make those accessible has been an ongoing issue. The Americans Association of People with Disabilities, it is a global organization that addresses all disability. American Council of the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, America on Line, which is essentially a web portal but it is an important purveyor of web services. Apple, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) which does a lot of work with the states. Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), of AT&T is a phone company, Avaya is a phone company, Canon USA which provides copiers, Communication Service for the Deaf, CTIA which is the industry association for phone company, it is wireless. Easter Seals, Dell Computers. The first of four committees, four representations from foreign countries. First one is the European Commission, the other three were, Industry Canada, the Japanese Standards Association, and the Human Rights Association. All of these are representing foreign governments and they were essential in getting foreign input to what is going on. Remember, a big part of this whole process was to promote harmonization around the world. So it is very important to have people from other countries involved. Just some of the others were Sun Microsystems, Paralyzed Veterans of America, National Federation of the Blind, National Association of State Chief Information Officers NASCIO, and two U.S. agencies, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration, as well as we have representatives from the World Wide Web Consortium otherwise known as W3C. I didn''t read all of the members, but that is a sample, so you can see it is consumer, technical, industry, governmental, so forth. It is a very, very wide spectrum. Now under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the committee we set up was charted to last for two years, but it could be have the charter renew if we needed it. The committee has to be fairly balance in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed. What TEITAC did, is we had 9 bi-monthly public meetings, so every other month we were having a face to face meeting. In between those meetings, we had teleconferences. We had 8 subcommittees that were working on issues and finally we had an editorial working group which focused on making the draft documents cohesive and understandable. We had extensive outside participation because we had a Wiki. We are one of the first federal agency I believe to use a Wiki in a rule making. And we got input from all around the world. At the end of the day, the standards that we used for the committee members were: Can you live with it? That was consensus. Can you agree to what the general principals is and the recommendations on the report? And we got a very good report out of it. We had 11 face to face meetings with the committees interspersed with teleconferences, so 11 meetings total. And the report itself, on that slide is found at the Access Board website which is http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/report and the minority reports are also found on that same page. And I am just keeping an eye on the time here. What the report recommended was that we focused on product characteristics rather than product categories. They suggested that rather than come up with our own standards for web and software that we should try and harmonized with other standards throughout the world. At the time, there were two standards and development. One was the WCAG Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and the other one is the ISO which is the International Standards Organization 9241-171. That was the recommendation of the committee. The Access Board is not required to follow that recommendation but it would be interesting to hear them say that. They also suggested that everything about web and content and software be merged into a section called User Interface and Electronic Content. Now what I am going to do is talk about some on the areas that they took following the outlines of the current standards which is Subpart A, B, C, and D. Subpart A, which show contents the purpose of the law, how it is applied, exceptions to applying the law such as you would not apply these to technology that you use for weapons systems for instance. So in the field you are not going to expect a missile systems or grenade launcher to be accessible to or usable by people with disabilities. So that is exempt from the law. And the concept of equivalent facilitation which says that if you cannot find a solution using the technical requirements or the functional performance criteria, you can still come up with a solution and that solution will be considered under the concept of equivalent facilitation. It is a different way of approaching the problems but you can manage to make the product accessible for people with disabilities. Then there is definitions, defining what they mean. The functional performance criteria in the next slide, Subpart B. The current functional performance criteria are those that are not underlined, the ones that are underlined I will point out as I read them. So the functional performance criteria which would address features of products operable without vision, operable with limited vision. A new provision is that committee suggested make it operable for people with color vision deficits, for example red, green, color blind is fairly prevalent in certain person in the world. It would be useful to be able to operate something that didnt rely on just color to operate it. Operable without hearing, limited hearing, without speech. Operable with limited reach, strength and manipulation. And the last two standards were new recommendations. One was operable without physical contact, remember technology is going in that direction. You have the interfaces which rely on touch or gesture. So they are saying you should be able to operate this without physical contact. And that is reflecting what is already out there in the technology market. So the standards should be reflected to revise that. And finally, a section on cognitive, language or learning limitations. That was a very difficult provision to address because cognitive language or learning limitations is a very large area. It can encompass everything from people with learning disabilities to post stroke to person with chromosomal abnormalities. So that may be a very difficult section to provide technical provisions for, we may not be able to do it. And I mention it to all of you because you are interested in the subject. And when we put out a draft rule, probably in the first quarter of 2010, I would invite all of you to weigh in on the issues that you see in the rule. Finally, Subpart C the technical requirements. Again, these are model closely on the current standards, they are just different functions, different capabilities. Now they talk about general technical requirements, requirements for hardware, requirements for the user interface and contents, requirements for audio/visual displays, requirements for audio content, requirements for real-time voice conversation functionality, and requirements for authoring tools. So these are the technical requirements that they are suggesting we use today. And finally the information in Subpart D, guides to implementation, operation and maintenance and information documentation and support, that we provide support for this. The TEITAC report was given out in April 2008. And the next steps from this point are, we are going to develop internally, the Access Board staff is going to develop text which will be improved, approved internally by the Access Board. And then the text will be combined with the regulatory assessment. The regulatory assessment is a costing out of the impact of each those proposed regulations. That whole thing together with a preamble with be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. And then when the Management and Budget approves it, then it will be posted in the federal register as what is called a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. And on the slide where it talked about what are the required rulemaking steps, there is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, be submitted to OMB, OMB reviews it for 90 days, and once they approve it, it is published in the federal register for a minimum of 30 days for comment. We typically publish our NPRM for 60 days, so we would seek public comments at that time. That is most likely to happen in the first quarter of 2010. We often, the rule making process requires that you take all the comments and you integrate them into a second draft to the rule and that second draft has to go to OMB, and it has to be, you have to develop a new regulatory assessment, adjusting to your changed regulatory language, and when it is all approved by OMB, again, for 90 days, it then gets posted in the federal registry as a final rule. What we are probably going to do, is insert an interim rule. So we will probably have a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, take comments, put it out again as a draft rule, get comments and put it out again as a final rule. Typically rulemaking takes around 2 years. So again, this is very typical with what we have seen. And now I am on the slide where I am talking about the steps and the process. The TEITAC report, the internal review of the report, the draft text, the Access Board approves it, the preamble, the advisory and the regulatory assessment, Access Board approves, OMB approves, and it gets published as an NPRM. After all that happens, remember 508 is a procurement law so it effects how the government buys things. Well, the Access Board is not in charged of procurement law, an entity call the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, they are responsible for developing acquisition guidelines. And what they will have to do within 6 months of our issuing our new standards our new rule, they will have to revise their current standards. So it is going to be an interesting process and I invite all of you to follow at www.access-board.gov for any updates. Okay. And I am at the point in the presentation I am inviting questions or comments, and I have my contact information on the screen. It is email@example.com , my direct telephone number is 202-272-0016. You can also send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you. Operator, I like to now ask if there is any questions about this or any of the things in the presentation.
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Wow, Tim, that is a lot of information that you just gave out in the last 90 minutes. And obviously I am sure I can just I can imagine that the folks in the audience sitting there and their heads just spinning and going, I don''t even know what question to ask because obviously so much information here. If you have somebody who you know just said to you, hey, Tim, I am going to give you two minutes, what from your perspective because you have worked with this, you have trained with this, you have done so much with these issues, what do you think are the most significant differences for people with disabilities, the user on the street, can they anticipate that they will see as a result of the changes and the refreshing of these regulation.
Okay. Well Robin, that is a great question. First off, I would like to say that everything I am about to say is a guess. The reason I say that is because we don''t have a rule. What we have is a current 508 from 2000. What I would expect is that there is probably going to be a change in the way you address the standards. Currently, the standards are set up so that you look at, you evaluate things as a product category. Is it a phone, is it a computer, is it software, is it hardware, etc. And now what this report is recommending to us, and what we have seen in the market places, you know you need to look at the features. What does the product do? What is it supposed to do? So, does it impact someones sight? Does it impact someones vision? Does it impact their touch? Those are the most important things I would think about. So, the bottom line is, it is not the individual technology that is so important, it is the information and the access that is provided. Because that is really what the law is intended to do. It is intended to make it a level playing field for everybody. American citizens, people using government services and people who works for the government. You get the same information at the same time as everybody else, regardless of what the technology is. That is the take away message that I would leave everyone today.
That is great, thank you. Just out of curiosity because again you have been watching this and you are seeing this, and you are hearing from the various entities and things that are out there, but how do you perceive you know just because you have had, I mean TEITAC, so many different people who you know represent different industries that were apart of that committee, do you see the proposed recommendations and such are being received positively, negatively? And of course, my second to that is that because of the time it takes for all this to be done, are we not necessarily just going to be behind the 8th ball because technology is changing so rapidly and this process is such a long process that even when this do come out in whatever form as final regulations, we can anticipate that we are already three to five years behind you know what new in technology might be coming out or is that already anticipated in these recommendations?
Okay, the answers to your questions. First of all, remember this report of recommendations by the committee was done by consensus. So in general all of the committee members agreed that these were issues we should look at and to the extent that they wrote it in the report they agreed that we should look at these particular issues. Whether it is the idea of how you send a text message, how you send a telephone call, how you interact with a piece of equipment. All of the committees members agreed on that. Now, in the minority report, which I referenced, 13 of the committee members filed the minority report because they flagged certain issues that they felt were particularly important from their point of view. And I invite everybody if you want to get a quick overview, what you should do is, in the report itself, I would read the executive summary, which is about 3 pages, then I would look at the some of the selected, I would look at as many of the advisory minority reports as you could. There is only 11 of them and most of them average 2 pages. So it will just give you an idea of some of the issues that were flagged. So that is one. So in general, I think the recommendations for the committee were consent. The issues that comes between trying to implement the recommendation is that from the governments perspective, implementing a law is not just as simple as, Oh, this is what the technology is, so let''s just do it. The reason is because sometimes you have issues with what is called heritage technology. So for instance, there are some agencies, Social Security comes to mind where they have had and still have an enormous system of main frame computers which are set up to generate certain types of reports which are generated by the thousands everyday. And they were never designed to be accessible and they were never intended to be designed at the time they were to be accessible the time they were designed 40 years ago. And you have they have not been changed because they have not been updated. And so the question becomes, well if you require say all contents to become accessible, let''s say that you require that every piece of content that an agency puts out, whether it is a webpage, a piece of paper, or a phone call, or a digital transmission, or videos or anything, to be accessible to anybody, my God, you will spend more money on implementation than anything else. So when we hear a recommendation from a committee we have to apply it in context. And the final standard that comes out has to reflect those realities. With regards to the timeliness of the standards, again, we try to write the standards particularly enough so that they will address features that the products have, but we try not to tie it down to a particular type of technology because that is when things get dated the most. So to answer your question, we are going to try to be, I don''t think it is going to be a question of being 3 to 5 years behind, I think it is going to be a question of trying to look at the way things operate. Today the big feature on products is they all interoperate. They can take data and use it on different platforms. You can access something on your PC, which you can then access on your Smart Phone, which you can then access on your Blackberry, which you can then access in different formats. So if we write the standards to address those kinds of broad questions, I think we are going to be okay and we are going to be timely and relevant for many years to come.
Good, good. Thank you. I appreciate that. We are at the bottom of the hour, I don''t know whether or not there were more questions that came in or not, but Tim you did give your contact information, so people can contact you directly with some additional information and questions. I just want to alert people that our next months session we have had to move, we did not realized that the session was schedule on Inauguration Day and we have heard from many people that they are either closed that day or there are other things happening that day that would preclude them from being able to participate in the program and had some request to consider moving it. We did review that and have decided to move the session which would typically be held on January 20th which is the third Tuesday of month, but we are moving that session to January 27th. We apologize for inconvenience for anybody. But we did have to weight kind of the pros and cons of the messages that we were hearing and it was probably our fault when we originally schedule not to pay attention to what was happening in January every 4 years on that particular Tuesday of the month. That session will focus on issues of, it starts our Employment Series and the first one is focusing on work from home and modified schedules as a reasonable accommodation. We invite you to join us for that session. If you want more information about the program you can go to our website at www.ada-audio.org. If you have questions about the topic today and you cannot reach Tim, you can also contact your Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center or regional ADA Center at 800-949-4232. And if you are not clear who that center is that serves your area, you can go to www.adata.org and link to the center, one of the ten centers across the country that serves you. Again, the transcript and the audio recording of this presentation will be available on the www.ada-audio.org website shortly after the New Year. So, thank you very much and I hope everyone have a great holiday season. And this is the one time of the year that everyone can say we will see you next year or in this case we will hear from you next year. Take care and again Tim, thank you very much for your time today.
Thank you Robin and thank you everyone. Happy holidays.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in todays conference. This concludes the conferencing and you may now disconnect.