Standards make the world accessible for all

The 2010 World Standards Day draws attention to the importance of standards for accessibility

"Standards make the world accessible for all" is the theme of this year's World Standards Day celebrated on 14 October 2010 by ISO, IEC and ITU together with their national member organizations. In their joint message, the three international standards organizations point out the fact that throughout the world at least 650 million people are affected by some kind of disability. One quarter of all citizens in developed countries are 60 or older and, by 2050, most developing countries will have caught up with this statistic.

The issue of accessibility has become more critical with the increasing number of older people in the population worldwide, and with more disabled persons becoming actively involved in social, political and economic life. But accessibility is not only an issue for the elderly or disabled. Anybody at any stage in life can experience temporarily reduced accessibility. When that happens, simple, everyday activities can become very complicated. International standards give manufacturers and service providers guidelines on how to design products that are accessible for all, at anytime.

For instance, a wheelchair ramp conforming to an international standard also provides easy, practical access for a new mother with a baby carriage. A device with a large switch may make things easier for someone with an injured hand. Or a sensor stopping doors from closing can prevent accidents. And the little dot on the number 5 on a phone keypad makes it easier to find numbers – a boon in the first days after an eye operation.

International standards facilitate everybody’s access to products, structures and services. They cover safety considerations, ergonomics and harmonized test methods, all geared to increase accessibility. DIN is a leader in this development: For over thirty years now, DIN Standards have specified technical requirements for accessible buildings and structures. October of this year will see the publication of a fully revised version of DIN 18040-1 laying down design principles for the accessibility of public buildings.

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October (the day ISO was founded) to pay tribute to the thousands of experts worldwide working to develop voluntary standards that facilitate trade, promote economic efficiency, increase safety and help to continually improve the quality of life. DIN represents German interests in ISO, with 28,000 German experts active in standardization nationally and worldwide. German representatives are involved in 99 % of all ISO Technical Committees either as participants or observers.