By Chris Palamountain

Over a year after beginning the effort, the Access Board’s Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee ended 2013 by issuing its final report on accessibility standards for medical equipment.  This report comments on and recommends technical requirements to ensure the accessibility of certain types of medical equipment to persons with disabilities.  The report covers a wide range of medical diagnostic tools, including, but not limited to, scales, examination tables, mammography equipment, X-ray machines, and other tools for examining and diagnosing patients.

The Access Board is an independent federal agency that helps develop technical guidelines and accessibility standards for physical environments and equipment.  It functions as a coordinating body among federal agencies to represent the public, particularly people with disabilities.  In July 2012, the Access Board formed the Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee to review public comment on proposed standards for medical diagnostic equipment which the Access Board had previously issued in response to the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The Committee included 24 stakeholder members, including representatives from disability rights groups, healthcare providers, and medical device manufacturers.  The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice were also involved.

The Committee’s report does not yet have the force of law or formal regulation:  Next, the Access Board will have to consider the Committee’s report and issue final guidelines, then U.S. Department of Justice will consider the report and guidelines and issue final regulations.  Only after both of those steps occur will the Committee’s recommendations become mandatory requirements, enforced by the DOJ.  We will keep you posted as this process progresses.

Edited By Minh N. Vu and Kristina M. Launey