The updated standards reflect changes in the technology landscape due to development of new technologies, the convergence of technologies and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products such as smart phones. As with previous drafts of the proposed rule, the update focuses on the following key areas:
- The standards are now organized by function rather than technology type – that is, what the product does rather than what it is;
- Harmonization with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, an industry and global standard for making web content accessible to people with disabilities;
- A requirement that any products providing two-way, real-time voice communication include the functionality to transmit real-time text (RTT) which displays characters as they are typed instead of as a block of text;
- Further clarification of internal agency content that is subject to compliance with the standards;
- Specific requirements for electronic documents and for re-usable modules such as templates and software development kits
The Board is seeking public comments on the rule as well as a preliminary assessment of its estimated costs and benefits. Comments are due by May 28, 2015. The Board will also hold public hearings in San Diego on March 5 and in Washington D.C. on March 11, 2015 where individuals and organizations may testify on the rule. The Board will also conduct a public webinar to review the proposal on March 31.