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Standards make the world accessible for all

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Dan Slipper Dan Slipper | 15:33 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

Did you know it's World Standards Day today? No, me either, but I've just read about it so thought I would tell you.

BSI Group is a global independent business services organisation and is the world's first national standards body set up in 1903. It partners with 66,000 organisations in 147 countries and works on introducing global standards, assurance and certification services for accessibility.

Ok - I can hear you snoring - but wait! To celebrate World Standards Day they have created a documentary to be shown during the European Commission's World Standards Day Accessibility For All conference in Brussels on Thursday 14 October 2010.

The producer of the film - Sofie Sandell - says: "People have different needs and abilities. In this video we want to give them a voice to make sure that their needs are heard and fulfilled thanks to standards."

It's all very well talking about global standards but what does that mean for you and me?

It means if people (yes, like you and me) don't have access to buildings, transport and the web they are locked out from society. Standards create opportunities for an active life for all. Well, at least that is the key message of the campaign.

Does that sound familiar?

Of course! Communications minister Ed Vaizey was on about it just the other day. He wants a "step change" in e-Accessibility for disabled people in the UK by the time of the Paralympics in 2012.

I've told you about it and what it is supposed to be achieving. Now, take a look at the video and see what you think.

A useful film which effectively communicates a vitally important message and will spur bureaucrats in Brussels into action or...?

Comments please.


  • Comment number 1.

    There are actually a few films, Dan - you've linked to the one about accessibility in buildings, but there are two others; one about accessibility in transport and another about accessibility in websites (There's also a fourth film which is an overview of them all.)

    I mention it because they've been very good and included several disabled contributors (nothing about us without us!) so, er, you might spot me in the two films I've just linked to...

    Personally I think it's great to have been able to be involved in a good news story for a change - too many disability news stories are complaining about something or other. So here we are talking about how to get things right.

    Of course if you do come up against access barriers - maybe a building which doesn't have an adapted toilet, or a website you can't use - you could use the films to point out that it's not just one person they affect, and that there are standards they should be following?

    Anyway, it is a fairly dry subject but an important one, I'm sure you'll agree. I'm glad you mentioned it.

  • Comment number 2.

    I saw the video about transport and the message about users of wheelchairs being confident of using buses, taxis and trains through the use of standards and thought the case for standards was well made.

    The problem comes when the standard suffers from poor research, usually from a narrow and limited consultation.

    Standards can be (mis)used and stand as a barrier to accessibility if used as an absolute limit.

    If the standard excludes someone, even by an inch or two, then at least the impossibility of using taxis, buses and trains is easily understood. Then, the the message is "tough" as I have experienced. Whatever happened to inclusiveness.

    I'd really like to have a chat with someone like Bob Appleyard (see in the Transport video) to see if the standards can be made truly inclusive...

  • Comment number 3.

    Steve I agree, and I am not going to advocate that all standards are perfect. But I think they are important, they set minimums, they get designers forced to consider user groups which they might otherwise exclude in the interest of design.

    I know what you mean. For example First Great Western's first class wheelchair bay is inaccessible to many users because someone in their wisdom put an armrest in the way. But standards reduce the chance of that happening. Sure, they can't accommodate everyone (for example they can't anticipate adaptive equipment that has not yet been created, or one offs, or exceptions to a general rule) but it's a start, and I think it is a *good* start. At least it's a base from which to move forward.

  • Comment number 4.

    Steve, you make some good points and comments about standards and true inclusiveness. We can help you connect with Bob Appleyard. Please contact Sofie at BSI, don't think BBC wants to publish any email here. Just call the general BSI number and you'll be out throuhg and we can connect you with Bob Appleyard.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would very much like to repsond to any questions that people may have about BSI PAS 900 Wheelchair Passport Scheme. I think it important to note though, that the PAS 900 Passport Scheme is not intended for use in the public transport sector. It's really intended to work in a transport situation when some kind of risk management process has taken place, like in Social Services or Home to School or Dial A Ride or Patient Transfer types of transport. There are thoughts about how we could deliver a Passport type idea for use in Public Transport, I guess we need to walk before we run on this task. Give us some time and we'll be on it.

  • Comment number 6.

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