Accessibility deadline may move

Hold the lawsuits.

An amendment passed by the Senate and likely to be accepted by the House

would push back by several months the date federal agencies can be sued

for failing to have office equipment that can be used by disabled people.

The date now is Aug. 7, but it is likely to be moved back to November

or December.

Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) tacked the deadline delay onto the annual

bill to fund military construction, passed May 11. A House version of the

military construction bill does not have a similar amendment, but a Senate

staffer said the amendment is expected to be accepted by a House conference

committee.

The move would push back the implementation date for Section 508 regulations

requiring federal agencies to provide computers, photocopiers, telephones

and other electronic equipment that can be used by people who are blind

or deaf or suffer from other physical impairments.

Although agencies now are required to comply by Aug. 7, it is still

unclear what they must comply with. Final regulations have not yet been

published by the federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance

Board. They are expected sometime in June.

The regulations were supposed to have been published Feb.7, giving agencies

six months to come into compliance by the Aug. 7 deadline. Jeffords' amendment

simply pushes the effective date back to six months after final regulations

are published — whenever that may be, the Senate staffer said.

Information technology companies, who lobbied hard to get the deadline

pushed back, said the delay may head off millions of dollars in lawsuits.

MORE INFO

"GSA sets early accessibility deadline" [FCW.com, May 15, 2000]

"Accessibility deadline looms" [Federal Computer Week, March 20, 2000]

Section 508 home page

BY William Matthews
May 25, 2000

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