The first-ever normative document from ISO to be published in Braille for the blind and people with sight disabilities is now available.

The Braille (English only) version is of ISO/IEC Guide 71, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, which has already been published in conventionally printed English and French versions. Braille is a system of writing and printing for the blind in which the characters are represented by raised dots and "read" by touch.

ISO/IEC Guide 71provides guidance on how the needs of older persons and people with disabilities can be taken into account in standards under development.

The guide is available - price 110 Swiss francs - from ISO national member institutes (see complete list) and from ISO Central Secretariat: customerservice@iso.org.

ISO/IEC Guide 71 supplements the ISO/IEC 2000 policy statement, Addressing the Needs of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Standardization, by identifying problem areas which must be addressed in standards. The aim is to encourage the development of standards that enhance the quality of life of older persons and people with disabilities, reduce discrimination and, at the same time, generate user-friendly products for the entire population.

The guide was developed by an ad hoc technical advisory group based on preliminary work undertaken by ISO Committee on consumer policy (COPOLCO). The work was carried out in partnership with the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and with input from the European standardization bodies, CEN and CENELEC.

"ISO tries to address the needs of society as a whole, including those of older persons and persons with disabilities, in the standards-development process," said Tim Hancox, secretary of the ad hoc group. "It is hoped that the Braille version of the guide will help the visually impaired as well as the entire standards community realize how input into the ISO standards-development process can be channelled to achieve concrete results.

"With the increasing number of visually impaired persons in the world's population, it is necessary to improve the accessibility and usability of products, services and environments for them. In an effort to facilitate standards that take into account functional limitations associated with the blind, ISO took the decision to publish a Braille version of ISO/IEC Guide 71.

"Many people with a visual impairment are working as either manufacturers, designers, service providers or educators. The Braille version of the guide will be of value to them by the simple fact of being 'design accessible' and, at the same time, will raise awareness about the potential for a wider market for products or services that incorporate accessible design principles."