Search Icon White
News Cover Image

World Standards Cooperation Accessibility Workshop Identifies Priorities for International Standardization

An estimated 650 million people worldwide are affected by a physical, sensory, or developmental impairment. A recent workshop organized by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) identified priority areas where International Standards could help engender greater accessibility for all.

The WSC is a cooperative alliance of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Held November 3-5 in Geneva, Switzerland, Accessibility and the Contribution of International Standardsexplored how International Standards could enhance the accessibility of consumer products, information technology, services, built environments, and facilities. Priority areas identified at the workshop call for WSC organizations to:

Accessibility Standards in the U.S.

2010 marks the twentieth anniversary the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), landmark legislation that fundamentally changed and improved the way many Americans access the built environment, transportation, communication, and information technology.

In recognition of this important milestone, the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day on September 23, 2010, celebrated Standards for Accessibility. The event paid tribute to the role of model codes, standards, and conformity assessment activities in broadening the accessibility of built environments, products, technologies, and systems for persons with special needs. [see related news item]

The WSD planning committee also held a Standards for Accessibilityexhibition on Capitol Hill on September 24, 2010. The event featured exhibits from a number of standards developing organizations highlighting the role that standards play in achieving universal access for all populations. [see related news item]

  • establish a WSC Strategic Advisory Group on accessibility and develop a common accessibility policy

  • identify accessibility-related content in proposed new standards of the WSC organizations

  • encourage national members of the WSC organizations to actively promote the implementation of accessibility standards

  • revise ISO/IEC Guide 71:2001, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, to ensure consistent concepts

  • strengthen WSC liaisons with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other relevant organizations

Key stakeholder groups participating in the WSC workshop spanned disability organizations and consumer groups, governments and regulators, industry, product designers, manufacturers, and standards developers from around the world.

Participants included: Joan Durocher, executive director of the U.S. National Council on Disability; Wan Hea Lee, on behalf of Kyung-wha Kang, deputy high commissioner for human rights at the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero of the European Commission's Unit for the Integration of People with Disabilities; and Imed Eddine Chaker, International Disability Alliance, represented through the Arab Organization of Disabled Persons, chairman of the Tunisian National Union of the Blind.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]