Standardization contributes to increased safety, availability, choice, and reliability of products and services for all people, including persons with disabilities. This is why standardization is an important tool to promote accessibility in our everyday lives.
A European standard (ES) is a document that sets out requirements for a specific item, material, component, system or service, or describes in detail a particular method or procedure in Europe.
European Standardization Bodies
European Standards are established by consensus and approved by European Standardization Organisations (ESOs). There are three ESOs:
- CEN – the European Committee for Standardization
- CENELEC – the European Committee for Electronic Standardization
- ETSI – European Telecommunications Standards Institute
They deal with different fields of activity and cooperate in areas of common interest.
Standardisation is the process through which standards are achieved. We intervene in this process to contribute to increased safety, availability, choice and reliability of products and services for all people, including persons with disabilities. We work in close cooperation with ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation and certification and disability organisations.
Mandate 420 on European accessibility requirements for public procurement in the built environment (Mandate 420 or M/420)
Design for all is “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design”.
The 7 principles are:
- Equitable use. The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
- Flexibility in use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and intuitive use. Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
- Perceptible information. The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
- Tolerance for error. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
- Low physical effort. The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
- Size and space for approach and use. Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.
Source: The Centre for Universal Design of the North Caroline State University
Standardisation Mandate 473 to include “Design for All” in relevant standardization initiatives (Mandate 473 or M/473)
Launched by the European Commission in 2010, it aims to address the inclusion of accessibility in the manufacturing process for manufactured goods and service provisions following design for all approach. This mandate is expected to review standards related to
- Built environment
- Information and communication technologies
- Healthcare and long term care
- Transport and packaging
- Household goods
- Sport and leisure
to find a way to assist manufacturers and service providers on how to take the needs of persons with disabilities into account when designing their products and services.
Existing European Standards and Mandates
- EN 301 549 on accessibility requirements for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) products and services
- Standardisation Mandate 376 on European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain (Mandate 376 or M/376)
Launched in 2005 by the European Commission thanks to the Public Procurement Directive, which included the references to accessibility, design for all and fight against discrimination on the basis of disability we advocated for. We were involved until the adoption of the final European Standard 301 509, intended to ensure that websites, software, hardware, and other digital devices are more accessible to persons with disabilities.