Accessibility workshop identifies priorities for international standardisation

Issue 23 – December 2010

An international workshop on accessibility has laid the groundwork for a road map of future initiatives on accessibility Standards and related support for these Standards. The workshop explored how international Standards could strengthen accessibility aspects in the design of products, services, environments, and facilities.

The workshop 'Accessibility and the contribution of international Standards' was held from 3 to 5 November 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. It was organised by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), which is the focal point for strategic cooperation set up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The recommendations from the workshop were viewed as highest priority for consideration by the WSC organisations:

  • establish a Strategic Advisory Group on 'Accessibility' between the WSC organisations
  • develop a common accessibility policy between the WSC organisations
  • encourage national members of the WSC organisations to actively promote the implementation of accessibility Standards
  • strengthen WSC organisation linkages with the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and with disabilities organisations
  • revise ISO/IEC Guide 71:2001, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, to ensure consistent concepts in the area of accessibility
  • identify accessibility-related content in proposed new Standards of the WSC organisations.

The participants in the workshop agreed that as a background to the recommendations, they wished to underline that 'Accessibility' is not limited to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, elderly people, or persons with temporary impairments, but aims at the usability of a product, service, environment, or facility by people with the widest range of capabilities.

Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, environment, or facility is usable by as many people as possible, including by persons with disabilities. Its importance is underlined by the fact that the number of persons with disabilities, either congenital, acquired or because of age is estimated to be around 650 million worldwide. International Standardisation can be a powerful tool for strengthening accessibility in all the above areas by setting the same Standards for use worldwide.

Published in international.