In the field of computer technology, human to machine interfaces have progressed from the use of punch cards to onscreen textual commands and graphical user interfaces. Recent developments have incorporated touch screens and voice commands commonly used with digital assistants, tablets and smart phones.
More than 20 years ago, the joint IEC and ISO technical committee for ICT (ISO/IEC JTC 1) established a subcommittee that provides standardization in the field of user system interfaces (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35). It seeks to provide standardized and user-friendly interfaces for all users, including those with accessibility issues or with special needs, and ensure that the interfaces can be adaptable across cultural and linguistic barriers.
The Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35, Khalid Choukri, explains more about some of the subcommittee’s standardization activities.
The work of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35
We would like to make sure that people can control or navigate their devices using a visual, auditory or tactile modality. For example, we can use our voices, body movements or gestures similar to those we use with our smartphones as interfaces in a standardized way. What we would like to do is ensure that such interfaces serve all users, including the ones with specific needs.
In addition, our work specifically addresses culture adjustability and linguistic compliance. This is one of our main objectives. We try to go beyond the basic legal obligations with our recommendations on developing user interfaces.
Interacting with computers through voice commands
We have worked since 2015 on the possibility to convert text into audio information but also audio into text like we see with subtitles and captioning. We would like to have the audio descriptions standardized with some explicit requirements. Our corresponding guidelines, ISO/IEC TS 20071-21, are under review to account for recent developments.
In terms of text to speech, we need to address speech detection. We have an initial standard for voice command which we developed several years ago but now we would like to work on a more sophisticated voice recognition project that can consider human and machine interaction using continuous speech.
One of our working groups is looking at speech interaction using full duplex which means that the speaker can speak at the same time as the machine. There is no interruption needed to, for example, push a button after asking the machine a question, which can be unnatural.
Accessibility is an important work area
SC 35 has published a number of standards related to accessibility. We have recently published ISO/IEC 29138-1 on user accessibility needs and ISO/IEC 30071-1 which provides guidelines for developing accessible ICT products and services. We have adopted a holistic approach and would like to make sure that organizations developing these products and services are aware of the requirements surrounding accessibility.
Moving forward, we need to make content easy to read and easy to understand.
Read the full interview in e-tech