Are there standards for developing or purchasing accessible fax machines, photocopiers, and other office equipment?

The accessibility of fax machines, photocopiers, and similar information technology devices is addressed within the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, developed by the federal Access Board as mandated by 1998 amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 specifically applies to the federal government, and the standards affect any electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government. The standards, however, are being mandated or voluntarily used as accessibility standards by other organizations as well, including states and educational entities.

The standards are organized into six product categories. The most applicable category is self-contained, closed products. These are essentially standalone devices, though they may operate in conjunction with other devices in an IT system. Typically these devices have controls that users must operate, and they produce some form of information output that users must be able to perceive. The Section 508 standards provide specific guidance on accessibility features to look for when purchasing these devices. The Access Board provides an excellent tutorial in its Guide to the Standards and also provides the federal government's Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards.