Technology – Senate Committee Holds Briefing on Aging and Social Isolation

On April 27, the Senate Committee on Aging sponsored a briefing entitled, “Aging Without Community: the Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness.” The hearing examined the consequences that social isolation and loneliness can have on older adults and those with disabilities as well as highlighting resources and programs to reduce and prevent isolation. One of the panelists, Richard Creech of Harrisburg, PA, discussed how technology can help maintain and enhance interpersonal relationships. Mr. Creech, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, offered his testimony using an augmentative communication device. Watch the archived briefing on theCommittee’s website.

Technology – Access Board Issues Final Rule on Information and Communication Technology

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board or Board) released a final rule on January 9 that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. The rule was developed in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The updated requirements specify the technologies covered and provide requirements for hardware, software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing, color perception, speech, cognition, manual dexterity, and reach. The rule restructures provisions so that they are categorized by functionality instead of by product type due to the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of ICT products. The rule will take effect in one year. The Board will conduct awebinar on the rule on February 2.

Health/Technology – Access Board Issues Final Rule on Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment

On January 9, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) issued a final rule on Standards for Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE). The accessibility standards provide minimum technical criteria for MDE, including but not limited to, examination tables, examination chairs, weight scales, and mammography equipment. The MDE Standards do not impose any mandatory requirements on health care providers or medical device manufacturers. However, other agencies may issue regulations or adopt policies that require health care providers to acquire accessible MDE that complies with these Standards.