Access Board Releases Proposed Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment

Posted on - Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment. Developed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the proposed standards address access for people with disabilities to examination tables and chairs, weight scales, mammography equipment, and other equipment used for diagnostic purposes. The standards are not final and are available for public comment for 120 days.

The standards provide design criteria that will allow independent access to diagnostic equipment, including types that require transfer from wheelchairs and other mobility aids.  Provisions address transfer surfaces, support rails, armrests, compatibility with lift devices, and other features to facilitate transfer. Equipment that does not require transfer from wheelchairs or that is used in a standing position is also addressed. The proposed rule includes a discussion of these requirements that highlights areas where additional information is sought. The Board seeks feedback on the substance of specific provisions, their impacts on equipment design and manufacture, and other topics.

The Board is developing these standards in consultation with other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Although health care providers are not required to comply with the standards, DOJ or other federal agencies may adopt the standards as requirements for health care providers under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other laws. Any such action will occur separately from the Board’s rulemaking.

The Board plans to organize a panel of stakeholders to develop consensus recommendations on how the standards should be finalized based on the comments received. This advisory committee will include disability groups, equipment manufacturers, health care providers, standard-setting organizations, and other interested parties. The Board will issue a notice inviting applications for committee membership in coming weeks.    

The deadline for comments on the standards is June 8. Comments can be submitted or viewed at the website. The Board will hold public hearings on the standards in Washington, D.C. on March 14 and Atlanta on May 8 that will provide additional venues for submitting comment.  

For further information, visit the Board’s website or contact Earlene Sesker at, (202) 272-0022 (v), or (202) 272-0091 (TTY).