36 CFR Appendix B to Part 1194 - Section 255 of the Communications Act: Application and Scoping Requirements

prev | next
Appendix B to Part 1194 - Section 255 of the Communications Act: Application and Scoping Requirements
Table of Contents
255 Chapter 1: Application and Administration
C101 General
C102 Referenced Standards
C103 Definitions
255 Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements
C201 Application
C202 Functional Performance Criteria
C203 Electronic Content
C204 Hardware
C205 Software
C206 Support Documentation and Services
255 Chapter 1: Application and Administration
C101 General

C101.1 Purpose. These Revised 255 Guidelines, which consist of 255 Chapters 1 and 2 (Appendix B), along with Chapters 3 through 7 (Appendix C), contain scoping and technical requirements for the design, development, and fabrication of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment, content, and support documentation and services, to ensure accessibility and usability by individuals with disabilities. These Revised 255 Guidelines are to be applied to the extent required by regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission under Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (47 U.S.C. 255).

C101.2 Equivalent Facilitation. The use of an alternative design or technology that results in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability by individuals with disabilities than would be provided by conformance to one or more of the requirements in Chapters 4 and 5 of the Revised 255 Guidelines is permitted. The functional performance criteria in Chapter 3 shall be used to determine whether substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability is provided to individuals with disabilities.

C101.3 Conventional Industry Tolerances. Dimensions are subject to conventional industry tolerances except where dimensions are stated as a range with specific minimum or maximum end points.

C101.4 Units of Measurement. Measurements are stated in metric and U.S. customary units. The values stated in each system (metric and U.S. customary units) may not be exact equivalents, and each system shall be used independently of the other.

C102 Referenced Standards

C102.1 Application. The specific editions of the standards listed in Chapter 7 are incorporated by reference into 255 Chapter 2 (Scoping Requirements) and Chapters 3 through 6 to the prescribed extent of each such reference. Where conflicts occur between the Revised 255 Guidelines and the referenced standards, these Revised 255 Guidelines apply.

C103 Definitions

C103.1 Terms Defined in Referenced Standards. Terms defined in referenced standards and not defined in C103.4 shall have the meaning as defined in the referenced standards.

C103.2 Undefined Terms. Any term not defined in C103.4 or in referenced standards shall be given its ordinarily accepted meaning in the sense that the context implies.

C103.3 Interchangeability. Words, terms, and phrases used in the singular include the plural and those used in the plural include the singular.

C103.4 Defined Terms. For the purpose of the Revised 255 Guidelines, the terms defined in C103.4 have the indicated meaning.

Application. Software designed to perform, or to help the user perform, a specific task or tasks.

Assistive Technology (AT). Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

Audio Description. Narration added to the soundtrack to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone. Audio description is a means to inform individuals who are blind or who have low vision about visual content essential for comprehension. Audio description of video provides information about actions, characters, scene changes, on-screen text, and other visual content. Audio description supplements the regular audio track of a program. Audio description is usually added during existing pauses in dialogue. Audio description is also called “video description” and “descriptive narration.”

Authoring Tool. Any software, or collection of software components, that can be used by authors, alone or collaboratively, to create or modify content for use by others, including other authors.

Closed Functionality. Characteristics that limit functionality or prevent a user from attaching or installing assistive technology.

Content. Electronic information and data, as well as the encoding that defines its structure, presentation, and interactions.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE). Equipment used on the premises of a person (other than a carrier) to originate, route, or terminate telecommunications service or interconnected VoIP service, including software integral to the operation of telecommunications function of such equipment. Examples of CPE are telephones, routers, switches, residential gateways, set-top boxes, fixed mobile convergence products, home networking adaptors and Internet access gateways which enable consumers to access communications service providers' services and distribute them around their house via a Local Access Network (LAN).

Document. Logically distinct assembly of content (such as a file, set of files, or streamed media) that: Functions as a single entity rather than a collection; is not part of software; and does not include its own software to retrieve and present content for users. Examples of documents include, but are not limited to, letters, email messages, spreadsheets, presentations, podcasts, images, and movies.

Hardware. A tangible device, equipment, or physical component of ICT, such as telephones, computers, multifunction copy machines, and keyboards.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information technology and other equipment, systems, technologies, or processes, for which the principal function is the creation, manipulation, storage, display, receipt, or transmission of electronic data and information, as well as any associated content.

Keyboard. A set of systematically arranged alphanumeric keys or a control that generates alphanumeric input by which a machine or device is operated. A keyboard includes tactilely discernible keys used in conjunction with the alphanumeric keys if their function maps to keys on the keyboard interfaces.

Label. Text, or a component with a text alternative, that is presented to a user to identify content. A label is presented to all users, whereas a name may be hidden and only exposed by assistive technology. In many cases, the name and the label are the same.

Manufacturer. A final assembler of telecommunications equipment or customer premises equipment that sells such equipment to the public or to vendors that sell to the public.

Menu. A set of selectable options.

Name. Text by which software can identify a component to the user. A name may be hidden and only exposed by assistive technology, whereas a label is presented to all users. In many cases, the label and the name are the same. Name is unrelated to the name attribute in HTML.

Non-Web Document. A document that is not: A Web page, embedded in a Web page, or used in the rendering or functioning of Web pages.

Non-Web Software. Software that is not: A Web page, not embedded in a Web page, and not used in the rendering or functioning of Web pages.

Operable Part. Hardware-based user controls for activating, deactivating, or adjusting ICT.

Platform Accessibility Services. Services provided by a platform enabling interoperability with assistive technology. Examples are Application Programming Interfaces (API) and the Document Object Model (DOM).

Platform Software. Software that interacts with hardware or provides services for other software. Platform software may run or host other software, and may isolate them from underlying software or hardware layers. A single software component may have both platform and non-platform aspects. Examples of platforms are: Desktop operating systems; embedded operating systems, including mobile systems; Web browsers; plug-ins to Web browsers that render a particular media or format; and sets of components that allow other applications to execute, such as applications which support macros or scripting.

Programmatically Determinable. Ability to be determined by software from author-supplied data that is provided in a way that different user agents, including assistive technologies, can extract and present the information to users in different modalities.

Real-Time Text (RTT). Communications using the transmission of text by which characters are transmitted by a terminal as they are typed. Real-time text is used for conversational purposes. Real-time text also may be used in voicemail, interactive voice response systems, and other similar application.

Revised 255 Guidelines. The guidelines for telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment covered by Section 255 of the Communications Act as set forth in 255 Chapters 1 and 2 (36 CFR part 1194, Appendix B), and Chapters 3 through 7 (36 CFR part 1193, Appendix C).

Software. Programs, procedures, rules, and related data and documentation that direct the use and operation of ICT and instruct it to perform a given task or function. Software includes, but is not limited to, applications, non-Web software, and platform software.

Software Tools. Software for which the primary function is the development of other software. Software tools usually come in the form of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and are a suite of related products and utilities. Examples of IDEs include Microsoft® Visual Studio®, Apple® Xcode®, and Eclipse Foundation Eclipse®.

Specialized Customer Premises Equipment. Assistive technology used by individuals with disabilities to originate, route, or terminate telecommunications or interconnected VoIP service. Examples are TTYs and amplified telephones.

Telecommunications. The signal transmission between or among points specified by the user of information and of the user's choosing without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.

Telecommunications Equipment. Equipment, other than customer premises equipment, used by a carrier to provide telecommunications service or interconnected VoIP service and includes software integral to the operation of telecommunications function of such equipment.

Terminal. Device or software with which the end user directly interacts and that provides the user interface. For some systems, the software that provides the user interface may reside on more than one device such as a telephone and a server.

Text. A sequence of characters that can be programmatically determined and that expresses something in human language.

TTY. Equipment that enables interactive text based communications through the transmission of frequency-shift-keying audio tones across the public switched telephone network. TTYs include devices for real-time text communications and voice and text intermixed communications. Examples of intermixed communications are voice carry over and hearing carry over. One example of a TTY is a computer with TTY emulating software and modem.

Variable Message Signs (VMS). Non-interactive electronic signs with scrolling, streaming, or paging-down capability. An example of a VMS is an electronic message board at a transit station that displays the gate and time information associated with the next train arrival.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). A technology that provides real-time voice communications. VoIP requires a broadband connection from the user's location and customer premises equipment compatible with Internet protocol.

Web page. A non-embedded resource obtained from a single Universal Resource Identifier (URI) using HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) plus any other resources that are provided for the rendering, retrieval, and presentation of content.

Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements
C201 Application

C201.1 Scope. Manufacturers shall comply with the requirements in the Revised 255 Guidelines applicable to telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment (and related software integral to the operation of telecommunications functions) when newly released, upgraded, or substantially changed from an earlier version or model. Manufacturers shall also conform to the requirements in the Revised 255 Guidelines for support documentation and services, including electronic documents and Web-based product support.

C201.2. Readily Achievable. When a manufacturer determines that conformance to one or more requirements in Chapter 4 (Hardware) or Chapter 5 (Software) would not be readily achievable, it shall ensure that the equipment or software is compatible with existing peripheral devices or specialized customer premises equipment commonly used by individuals with disabilities to the extent readily achievable.

C201.3 Access to Functionality. Manufacturers shall ensure that telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment is accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities by providing direct access to all telecommunications functionality. Where manufacturers can demonstrate that it is not readily achievable for such equipment to provide direct access to all functionality, the equipment shall support the use of assistive technology and specialized customer premises equipment where readily achievable.

C201.4 Prohibited Reduction of Accessibility, Usability, and Compatibility. No change shall be undertaken that decreases, or has the effect of decreasing, the net accessibility, usability, or compatibility of telecommunications equipment or customer premises equipment.

EXCEPTION: Discontinuation of a product shall not be prohibited.

C201.5 Design, Development, and Fabrication. Manufacturers shall evaluate the accessibility, usability, and interoperability of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment during its product design, development, and fabrication.

C202 Functional Performance Criteria

C202.1 General. Where the requirements in Chapters 4 and 5 do not address one or more functions of telecommunications or customer premises equipment, the functions not addressed shall conform to the Functional Performance Criteria specified in Chapter 3.

C203 Electronic Content

C203.1 General. Electronic content that is integral to the use of telecommunications or customer premises equipment shall conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 (incorporated by reference, see 702.10.1).

EXCEPTION: Non-Web documents shall not be required to conform to the following four WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria: 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks, 2.4.5 Multiple Ways, 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation, and 3.2.4 Consistent Identification.

C203.1.1 Word Substitution when Applying WCAG to Non-Web Documents. For non-Web documents, wherever the term “Web page” or “page” appears in WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements, the term “document' shall be substituted for the terms “Web page” and “page.” In addition, in Success Criterion in 1.4.2, the phrase “in a document” shall be substituted for the phrase “on a Web page.”

C204 Hardware

C204.1 General. Where components of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment are hardware, and transmit information or have a user interface, those components shall conform to applicable requirements in Chapter 4.

EXCEPTION: Components of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment shall not be required to conform to 402, 407.7, 407.8, 408, 412.8.4, and 415.

C205 Software

C205.1 General. Where software is integral to the use of telecommunications functions of telecommunications equipment or customer premises equipment and has a user interface, such software shall conform to C205 and applicable requirements in Chapter 5.

EXCEPTION: Software that is assistive technology and that supports the accessibility services of the platform shall not be required to conform to the requirements in Chapter 5.

C205.2 WCAG Conformance. User interface components, as well as the content of platforms and applications shall conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 (incorporated by reference, see 702.10.1).

EXCEPTIONS: 1. Software that is assistive technology and that supports the accessibility services of the platform shall not be required to conform to C205.2.

2. Non-Web software shall not be required to conform to the following four Success Criteria in WCAG 2.0: 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks; 2.4.5 Multiple Ways; 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation; and 3.2.4 Consistent Identification.

3. Non-Web software shall not be required to conform to Conformance Requirement 3 Complete Processes in WCAG 2.0.

C205.2.1 Word Substitution when Applying WCAG to Non-Web Software. For non-Web software, wherever the term “Web page” or “page” appears in WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements, the term “software” shall be substituted for the terms “Web page” and “page.” In addition, in Success Criterion 1.4.2, the phrase “in software” shall be substituted for the phrase “on a Web page.”

C205.3 Complete Processes for Non-Web Software. Where non-Web software requires multiple steps to accomplish an activity, all software related to the activity to be accomplished shall conform to WCAG 2.0 as specified in C205.2.

C206 Support Documentation and Services

C206.1 General. Where support documentation and services are provided for telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment, manufacturers shall ensure that such documentation and services conform to Chapter 6 and are made available upon request at no additional charge.

[82 FR 5832, Jan. 18, 2017, as amended at 83 FR 2915, Jan. 22, 2018]