Section 255 of the Communications Act

Section 255 of the Communications Act requires manufacturers to ensure that telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment are designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities when it is readily achievable to do so. ("Readily achievable" means it can be accomplished without significant difficulty or expense.) Section 255 rules cover equipment, including telephones, fax machines and answering machines, and telecommunications services (such as regular telephone calls, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding). In addition, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers must comply with Section 255.

Technology Angle:

Section 255 is geared toward private sector manufacturers and goes hand-in-hand with the federally focused Section 508 in that it helps to ensure that telecommunications products and equipment purchased by the federal government are accessible to workers with disabilities and members of the public. The U.S. Access Board and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) work together on accessibility guidelines for telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment. 

In January 2017, the Access Board published a final rule to update the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines. 

For more information about the Section 255 refresh, please see:
U.S. Access Board: About the ICT Refresh

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