New standards for equal access

Standards Norway has adopted four new standards dealing with aspects of universal design. They will all potentially be important tools for ensuring equal access to goods and services in society.

Ticket machines at Oslo Central StationThe standards were presented to the minister of children, equality and inclusion affairs on December 2nd 2013 in front of a large audience, and have received broad national attention.

The standards concerned are:

  • NS 11021 Universal design – Accessible electronic text documents – Requirements for design, mark-up and file formats
  • NS 11022 Universal design – Automats for public use – Requirements for physical design and user dialogue
  • NS 11030 Universal design – Equal access to services and requirements to service providing
  • NS 11040 Universal design – User participation and ICT

The four standards are published in Norwegian only.

Background
The standards were developed on the background of several surveys making an overview of existing standards and guidelines in the fields concerned. These concluded that there was a need for national standards to provide normative requirements to achieve the objective of universal design. The four standards have been developed by three different standardisation committees, all having put considerable effort into developing them. Three of the standards concern ICT, the fourth services in general. The work on the ICT related standards were part of a cooperation agreement between the Norwegian Research Council (the IT Funk programme) and Standards Norway.

The ICT releated standards
NS 11021 provides recommendations on how best to tag or markup electronic text documents, which today are presented on many platforms like web, mobile web and others. The standard shows how to ensure that such documents are accessible for all and has its target group anyone responsible for developing and presenting documents in electronic formats.

NS 11022 provides requirements to the physical design and user interface of automats for public use. It reflects today’s increasing demand for all citizens to be “their own service providers” to acquire for instance information and other services through various automats and information kiosks.

These two standards are developed by a committee representing producers of software and hardware, centres of experts and interest organisations.

NS 11040 is a pioneering work providing a systematic review of the process of user participation, concerning planning and development of ICT-related goods and services. The standard can also be used in other fields where user participation both on individual and system levels is relevant.

This standard was developed by a committee where representatives of research institutes, interest organisations, the University in Oslo and public authorities were participating.

Standard on accessible services
The NS 11030 is also a pioneering project in that it presents requirements to developing and providing services in a way that all may enjoy equal access to them. Besides requirements of universal design of the physical framework surrounding the providing of services – like accessible buildings, information formats etc. – the standard includes norms for information and communication providing and personal service to ensure equal access to services.

The standard is developed by a standardisation committee representing employers, public authorities, interest organisations and the municipal sector.

Conclusion
When the standards are implemented, Standards Norway believes that an important step has been taken to achieve a more accessible society in several important areas, to fulfill Norwegian political objectives of universal design of goods and services. This requires that public authorities support their implementation in the market and that both public authorities, business and the organisations use them in their work.

Last updated: 2013-12-19