The theme of this year’s World Standards Day message is “Standards make the world accessible for all”. With at least 650 million people globally affected by some kind of disability, combined with the rising numbers of older people in the world’s population – one quarter of all citizens are 60 or older– the issue of accessibility to products and services has become more important than ever.
The World Standards Day message is signed by the leaders of the three principal international standardization organizations: Mr. Jacques Régis, President of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Dr. Alan Morrison, President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
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. The issue of accessibility has become more critical with the increasing number of older people in the population worldwide.
But accessibility is not only an issue for the elderly or disabled. Accessibility solutions also allow products to be more appealing to a general audience. For example, a well designed wheelchair ramp for the benefit of the motor impaired also provides an easy and practical environmental useful to everyone, including a new mother with a baby carriage.
International standards developed by IEC, ISO and ITU, based on international consensus, give manufacturers and service providers the guidelines on how to design products accessible for all.
For the three leaders, “International standards facilitate everybody’s access to products, structures and services. They include safety considerations, ergonomics and harmonized test methods all geared to increase accessibility. Standards also provide a platform for the dissemination of technological innovations both in developed and developing countries. They help markets to grow faster and increase global trade.”