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36 CFR Part 1194 Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508 Standards) - Preamble

See also: Final Rule published to the Federal Register 1/18/17 that jointly updates requirements for ICT covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communication Act.

Electronic and information technology. This is the statutory term for the products covered by the standards in this part. The statute explicitly required the Board to define this term, and required the definition to be consistent with the definition of information technology in the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. The Board's proposed definition of information technology was identical to that in the Clinger-Cohen Act. Electronic and information technology was defined in the proposed rule to include information technology, as well as any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information.

Information technology includes computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources. Electronic and information technology includes information technology products like those listed above as well as telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers, and fax machines.

Consistent with the FAR,4 the Board proposed that electronic and information technology not include any equipment that contains embedded information technology that is used as an integral part of the product, but the principal function of which is not the acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. For example, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment such as thermostats or temperature control devices, and medical equipment where information technology is integral to its operation, are not information technology.

Comment. Several commenters recommended that the exception for HVAC control devices and medical equipment be revised in the final rule. The commenters were concerned that the exception was too broad in that it exempted equipment such as medical diagnostic equipment that they felt should be covered by the rule. In addition, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) requested that public address systems, alarm systems, and two-way communications systems such as intercoms be expressly included as electronic and information technology.

Response. The exemption is consistent with existing definitions for information technology in the FAR. Public address systems, alarm systems, and two-way communications systems are already addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and will be addressed in more detail in the Board's guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act which apply to Federal facilities. No changes have been made to the definition in the final rule.


4 48 CFR Chapter 1, part 2, §2.101 Definitions Information Technology (c).