International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Standards help tackle the challenges of certain disabilities

By Antoinette Price

Around 15% of the world population, or more than one billion people, live with some form of disability, according to the World Bank. There is a great need to provide access to essential services so these people can live healthy, active and independent lives. This will also prove beneficial to society as a whole. Additionally the percentage of the world's population aged over 60 years is forecast to reach 22% in 2050, making it imperative to create more age-friendly environments which provide solutions for disabilities.

Mom and son using hearing aids Life sounds better with hearing aids

On December 3, the United Nations observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities’ encourages empowering people by investing in their jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection.

Improving the lives of the visually impaired and those with hearing loss

The IEC, through its Systems Committee for Active Assisted Living (SYC AAL), works on providing AAL solutions for people with disabilities. Additionally, the work of several IEC Technical Committees (TCs) helps to deal with specific problems which result from disabilities such as:

Impaired sight
IEC TC 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, has set up Technical Area 16: AAL, accessibility and user interfaces. It has developed tools, such as the optical character recognition, character magnification or voice recognition systems and hardware including adapted or on-screen keyboards. These may help visually impaired people carry out different activities. It has also created a Standard that specifies the text-to-speech functionality for a broadcast digital receiver with a text-to-speech system, to deal with the problems such as not being able to operate a remote control device, see subtitles, navigate channels and TV inputs, nor use additional data (text) services provided by the broadcaster, or do the initial TV setup.

This TC has also developed a Standard for the file format and player requirements of the highly successful digital audiobook.

Hearing loss
Equally those suffering from hearing loss may find their social, academic and career prospects somewhat limited without extra help. IEC TC 29: Electroacoustics, has produced the IEC 60118 series of Standards to cover measurements of electroacoustic and performance characteristics for various types of hearing aids.

See related article in the December 2014 issue of e-tech : Dedicated to improving quality of life
For more about accessibility and International Standards, visit:

Ambient-assisted-living_siemens Helping visually-impaired people use every day devices
Mom and son using hearing aids Life sounds better with hearing aids
AAL Smart appliances may prove very helpful for everyone, and in particular for the older generations