The European Standardization as a Tool for Accessibility

From the European Disability Forum:


Accessibility for All is the focus of the 2010 World Standards Day... The European Commission gathered the key actors of standardisation and invited the European Disability Forum to highlight the accessibility challenges. The disability movement supports this great initiative: by taking into consideration the needs of users with disabilities, standardisation encourages equal access to urban environments, information and communication technologies, services and improves the design of consumer products.


Why are standards important for consumers with disabilities?

Standardisation is the process of developing standards and technical specifications to improve, guaranty the consistent quality and safety of services and products. It is carried out by independent standards bodies, acting at national, European and international level.


Carlotta Besozzi, Director of the European Disability Forum (EDF)presented why standards are important for consumer with disabilities. She also focused on the next necessary steps to ensure a barrier free Europe.

Above all, standards are crucial for persons with disabilities : it is obvious that concrete set of rules to ensure persons with disabilities have equal access to Society. All levels are concerned: from built environment, to transports, goods, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and services . Standards don't only take apart existing barriers, they also avoid additional exclusion. In addition to this, standards have potential to improve the possibilities of independent living.

Moreover, EDF would like to highlight that standards cannot represent an alternative to binding measures, but they are a useful tool to underpin legislation.

During the conference, EDF explained the obligations related to standardisation following the conclusions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the European Union. Under article 9 'accessibility', States Parties have the obligation to "take appropriate measures to develop promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public".

In order to ensure that accessibility requirements of persons with disabilities are adequately addressed, EDF considers that:

- Accessibility should be mainstreamed in European standardisation processes to be taken into account in the creation and development of European standards.

- A sustainable participation of representatives of Disabled People Organisations in European standardisation at both EU and national level is crucial because they gather the expertise on what they need in order to access goods, services, ICTs, transports and the built environment.


Source:

http://www.edf-feph.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=13855&thebloc=25464

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