Involving people with disabilities in the standardisation process
Chapter 2 - What to standardise
Accessibility standardisation is performed both in the form of inclusion of accessibility aspects in general standards, and in writing specific standards documents on accessibility features. Deciding what to standardise should involve all the potential stakeholders.
The factors to consider include:
- Is there likely to be some consensus on the scope and content of the standard?
- Will the proposed standard be of benefit to all users? Will it benefit industry?
- Are there sufficient people with the appropriate skills who are interested in doing the detailed work involved in writing the standard? In organisations such as ISO and CEN, there is a requirement for at least 5 countries to commit to contribute experts who will participate in the development of the standard.
- Is someone willing to take on the task of being editor?
- Does new research need to be undertaken before the standard is written? If so, who will do it or who will pay for it to be done?
- How is conformance to be demonstrated?
- Will the standard still be relevant by the time it is published? Some national standards may only take six months to develop, but international standards frequently take a number of years.
- When the standard is published, is it likely to be implemented?
- Is the benefit of having a standard worth the cost of writing it?
- Should the standard be national, European or international?
The standardisation of accessibility features in mainstream standards is often a very time-critical activity. The mainstream standard development has its agreed time plan and the accessibility aspects need to be integrated at the right moment in this plan in order to be well accepted. If standardisation is attempted when a technology is too immature it may be abandoned or change radically requiring constant updates to disabilities features. While if standards are developed later in the cycle, consensus may be impossible because manufactures or suppliers have adopted entrenched positions. The field of ICT is fast moving and development of a product may be complete within a year; the developers move on to the next innovation leaving a skeleton maintenance team with a responsibility for bug correction but not for implementation of standards.
If new research is needed, it is preferable that it is undertaken before the new work item is formally adopted by the standards body, otherwise there is a risk that the development of the standard will not be within the time permitted by the standards organisation. Standards are not used to force untried solutions upon industry, so any new concepts must be proved to be valid at the outset.
Last updated: 04.08.2009 © Copyright reserved Website design: Digital Accessibility Team