Today we are very happy to announce that the IEC, ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and ITU (the International Telecom Union) have published a new Guide, ISO/IEC Guide 71:2014, entitled Guide for addressing accessibility in standards, to help ensure that standards take full account of the accessibility needs of users from all walks of life.
Guide 71 provides practical advice to standards developers so that from the start, they can address accessibility in standards that focus, either directly or indirectly, on any type of system that people use. It covers mainly the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities, children and older persons.
Over a billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. However the accessibility and usability of products, services and environments have become increasingly critical for everybody, regardless of age or ability. The prevalence of digital technology in our daily lives is a clear example of the necessity to ensure accessibility for as many people as possible.
IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk said:
“It is an important goal for the whole of society that all people, regardless of their age, size or ability, have access to the broadest range of systems. Standards that include accessibility requirements can support the development of devices and systems that can be accessed by a greater number of users.”
The new Guide 71 will help those involved in the standards development process to consider accessibility issues when developing or revising standards, particularly in areas where they have not been addressed before. It will also be useful for manufacturers, designers, service providers, and educators with a special interest in accessibility.
Guide 71 has three main aims:
- Help designers, manufacturers and educators gain a better understanding of the accessibility requirements of an increasing part of the population;
- Increase the number of standards containing accessibility considerations, with perhaps a greater number focusing specifically on accessibility;
- Integrate accessibility features into standards – and product or service design – from the outset.
Why are accessibility, and this Guide, important for standards developers and their partner stakeholders?
By providing a detailed description of how accessibility can be applied to the standards development process, Guide 71, and possibly other sources, when used in consultation with key stakeholder partners:
- can help to ensure that existing products and services are made more accessible;
- can help to ensure that new products and services are made accessible and, as a result
- can help to ensure that more groups and individuals have access to more products and services.
As well as supporting the principle that as many products and services should be usable by as many people as possible, Guide 71 anticipates the fact that the requirements of national and international anti-discrimination legislation have become increasingly influential. This is shown by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the requirements found in national and regional procurement regulations.
IEC is working together with its partner organizations, ISO and ITU, to raise awareness of accessibility solutions. Guide 71 is the first ISO/IEC guide to have also been adopted by the ITU.
ISO/IEC GUIDE 71 is free to download from the websites of IEC, ISO and ITU.