New regs for Wednesday: Hearing aids, railroads, handicap people

Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register will contain new rules for hearing aids, railroads, and people with disabilities. Here's what is happening:

Hearing loss: The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is considering how it can improve the quality of hearing aids for people with hearing loss.

According to the World Health Organization, one in five Americans over the age of 12 suffer from hearing loss in at least one ear. But the agency said only 20 percent to 25 percent of people with hearing loss actually use hearing aids, because of the limitations of the devices.

One of the biggest problems people with hearing loss face when using hearing aids is difficulty with volume control. They also complain about difficulties listening to people speak in noisy environments.

The agency would like to solve these problems.

"Hearing loss can affect people’s lives in a number of areas, including education, transition from school to work, employment, participation in the community, and general social and emotional well-being," the agency wrote. "However, successful auditory enhancement technologies have been shown to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss." 

The public has 30 days to comment.

Railroad: The Surface Transportation Board is moving forward with new rules that would allow railroad carriers to charge companies late fees for taking too long to load or unload their cars.

Companies that take more than their allotted time to load a rail car with products they are shipping, or the receivers of those products that take too long to unload the car, can be charged an additional fee for the delays they cause, which is known as demurrage liability.

This is a historical principle is used when shipping goods by boat, train, or plane, but the Surface Transportation Board is updating the rules to explain who is responsible to pay the late fee.

Disability: The Department of Transportation is making changes to its civil rights regulations to remove out-dated references to "handicapped persons."

The Transportation Department is replacing the term "handicapped person" with "person with a disability," which the agency sees as a more culturally acceptable term.

This revision does not make any substantive changes to the agency's rules. 

The rule goes into effect immediately.

Recording: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be collecting information under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act to determine the accessibility of emergency information in video programming. 

The White House's Office of Management and Budget approved the agency's information collection request last week.

Acquisitions: The General Services Administration (GSA) is moving forward with changes to the agency's acquisitions regulations. The new rules address the use of the industrial funding fee.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days.

Airworthiness: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is correcting mistakes made in airworthiness standards it published last month to harmonize the agency's rules with those of European regulators.

The corrections go into effect immediately.