Accessibility for all

Accessibility for all

People with disabilities face many accessibility problems in their daily lives.

Physical accessibility is one of them; it can be defined as the degree to which homes, public buildings, transport etc. are adapted to people with a physical disability. In Belgium certain legal accessibility standards are imposed for public buildings. They are intended for every type of user, but take special account of the needs of persons with a physical disability.

Accessibility is, however, a much broader concept: it designates the opportunity for a maximum number of people, including people with disabilities, to use a product, apparatus, service, environment, facility etc.

Some examples:
- Supporting tools, such as screen readers and braille printers allow blind people to use computers.
- The ‘Web Accessibility Initiative’ aims to improve the web access for people with disabilities, by considering their needs in the development of websites,
- A growing number of European cities offer forms of public transport that are accessible to people with reduced mobility

Standards also play an empowering role in this respect. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published specific standards for equipment and facilities that improve accessibility for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, such as:
- ISO 24503 for tactile dots and bars for use on consumer products
- ISO 23600 for acoustic and tactile signals for pedestrian traffic lights
- ISO 10865 for wheelchair containment and occupant retention systems in vehicles for wheelchair-seated passengers

Everybody has the right to enjoy a good quality of life. Accessibility, i.e. the degree to which we have access to transport, the environment, buildings, products, services, information etc., determines the way in which we can take part in society. The importance of accessibility will continue to grow as a result of increasing life expectancy, with people wanting to remain active at a higher age.

Standardisation will not remain on the sideline of this evolution; it will make an active contribution to new developments in accessibility.