Around 15% of the world population, or more than one billion people, live with some form of disability, according to the World Bank. There is a great need to provide access to essential services so these people can live healthy, active and independent lives. This will also prove beneficial to society as a whole. Additionally the percentage of the world’s population aged over 60 years is forecast to reach 22% in 2050, making it imperative to create more age-friendly environments which provide solutions for disabilities. On December 3, the United Nations observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities’ encourages empowering people by investing in their jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection.
Improving the lives of the visually impaired and those with hearing loss
The IEC, through its Systems Committee for Active Assisted Living (SYC AAL), works on providing AAL solutions for people with disabilities. The work of several Technical Committees (TCs) helps to deal with specific problems which result from disabilities such as:
IEC TC 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, has set up Technical Area 16: AAL, accessibility and user interfaces. It has developed tools, such as the optical character recognition, character magnification or voice recognition systems and hardware including adapted or on-screen keyboards. These may help visually impaired people carry out different activities. It has also created a Standard that specifies the text-to-speech functionality for a broadcast digital receiver with a text-to-speech system, to deal with the problems such as not being able to operate a remote control device, see subtitles, navigate channels and TV inputs, nor use additional data (text) services provided by the broadcaster, or do the initial TV setup.
This TC has also developed a Standard for the file format and player requirements of the highly successful digital audiobook.
Equally those suffering from hearing loss may find their social, academic and career prospects somewhat limited without extra help. IEC TC 29: Electroacoustics, has produced the IEC 60118 series of Standards to cover measurements of electroacoustic and performance characteristics for various types of hearing aids.
See related e-tech article:
For more about accessibility and International Standards, visit the World Standards Cooperation
About the international day of persons with disabilities
In 1992, the United Nations announced the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also works towards raising awareness of benefits from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
(Photo: Siemens) Ambient assisted technology