Voluntary standards make our everyday lives safer, easier, and more enjoyable. Some standards protect human health, safety, and the environment, while others help to ensure that different products work reliably and compatibly together (check out some fun examples).
Across every industry sector, the U.S. standardization system relies on the shared expertise of all relevant stakeholders to address real-world problems with consensus-based standards. ANSI has served as the coordinator of this flexible and responsive system for more than 100 years, and works to bring all the diverse interests together—with a keen focus on consumers, a sometimes underrepresented group.
Consumers can provide critical, first-hand perspectives on how products will be perceived and used in the marketplace. The consideration of these insights improves standards outcomes for all end users, while helping to drive innovation, strengthen industry, and fuel our nation’s economy.
Many consumers are not aware of how standards are working behind the scenes to improve our lives, everyday. From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the technologies that support recreation, health, remote learning, and work—standardization is at play, helping to assure safety, quality, and interoperability.
Product standards aim to help reduce or prevent injuries. They are developed by thousands of volunteers who are experts in their relevant field—such as engineers and designers. Professional consumer advocates, victims of injuries or their survivors, government employees (federal, state, and local), those who work in testing laboratories, academic researchers, physicians, lawyers, and others also contribute.
But greater involvement in standards setting from individual consumers is critical to improving the safety of products that we all rely on, every day.
Both consumer representatives and standards developers cite lack of funding as a major barrier to consumer participation. And that’s why ANSI and five founding sponsors—ASTM International, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), NSF International, UL Standards & Engagement (ULSE), and the Toy Association—launched the Consumer Participation Fund in May 2022.
Aimed at reducing financial barriers to participation, the fund reimburses eligible travel expenses and participation fees of consumer representatives involved in the development of a new or revised American National Standard (ANS).
There is a whole world of opportunity in standardization that could benefit you, and your family - and make great use of your knowledge in turn. “We need your voice at the table to help make products, processes and services better and safer,” said Linda Golodner, former president of the National Consumers League and chair of ANSI’s Consumer Interest Forum. “It can be hard work, and like other volunteer efforts, can be a commitment, but at the end of the day, your viewpoint will be heard and can make a difference!”
To learn more about the Consumer Participation Fund and opportunities to get involved in standards activities, contact ANSI’s consumer and legislative outreach manager, Cleo Manuel Stamatos, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Stamatos, “Everyone has a place in standards development for products that impact our lives; consumers’ voices are especially important. I’m excited to help consumers find the right opportunities to volunteer and contribute to making products and services safer.”