Feds face access reg deadline relief
- By William Matthews
- May 29, 2000
An amendment passed by the Senate last week would help federal agencies
dodge millions of dollars in lawsuits and postpone $1 billion worth of office
equipment upgrades to comply with new requirements that federal offices
be made accessible to workers with disabilities.
The Senate voted to push back the Aug. 7 deadline on which agencies
can be sued for failing to comply with Section 508 accessibility standards.
Section 508 is an amendment to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
A new deadline proposed by Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) would give agencies
until at least November and more likely until next spring to provide workers
with computers, phones, photocopying machines and other electronic equipment
that accommodates individuals who are vision or hearing impaired or who
suffer from restrictions in their mobility.
Section 508 accessibility standards will also apply to federal Internet
Agencies could have faced millions of dollars in lawsuits after Aug.
7, according to information technology specialists who have followed the
Section 508 saga closely.
The Aug. 7 deadline for Section 508 compliance presumed accessibility
requirements would be spelled out in detail by Feb. 7. But proposed requirements
were not published until late March, and final regulations probably will
not be ready before fall, said Doug Wakefield, an IT accessibility specialist
at the federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
Jeffords' amendment would set the compliance date — thus the date agencies
could be sued for noncompliance — at six months after final requirements