General News

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Issuance of “508 Refresh” Regulations

The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for blind Americans to gain equal access to information and technology, today applauded the publication of new technical standards to bring information and communication technology (ICT) into compliance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, which requires government agencies and contractors to make their electronic information and technology accessible to the blind and others with disabilities.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:

Information and communication Technology has changed a great deal since the last Section 508 regulations were issued, and has become an even more integral part of everyday life. Yet blind people, particularly blind federal employees, continue to struggle with access barriers when interacting with electronic and information technology used or procured by federal agencies.

For these reasons, we are extremely pleased that the new Section 508 standards have finally been published. Government agencies and contractors should now understand how to make information and services accessible to the blind, allowing federal employees to perform their job functions effectively and other blind Americans to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens.

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their ICT accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Issuance of Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act Regulations

The National Federation of the Blind commented today on the issuance of regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama to protect the blind and other pedestrians from the dangers posed by silent hybrid and electric vehicles.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:

Having raised concerns on behalf of blind Americans about the dangers posed by silent hybrid and electric vehicles, the National Federation of the Blind is extremely pleased that technical specifications for a safe level of sound to be emitted by such vehicles have now been issued.
The full implementation of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 will protect all pedestrians, especially the blind, as well as cyclists. This regulation will ensure that blind Americans can continue to travel safely and independently as we work, learn, shop, and engage in all facets of community life.

Studies conducted by NHTSA indicate that, under certain low-speed scenarios, the odds of hybrid and electric vehicles being involved in collisions with pedestrians are thirty-five percent higher than those for comparable internal combustion engine vehicles and that the odds of hybrid and electric vehicles being involved in collisions with cyclists are fifty-seven percent higher than for comparable internal combustion engine vehicles.
The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act was passed by unanimous consent in the United States Senate and by an overwhelming bipartisan majority vote of 379 to 30 in the House of Representatives. It was signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011.

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