Using computers and the Internet can be a challenge for any of us – let alone the elderly, or people with disabilities. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission) are contributing to a solution in the form of a technical report on accessibility icons and symbols that will make IT products easier to use for the elderly, the disabled – and the rest of us.

The technical report contains a survey of icons and symbols currently used to provide access to functions and facilities of IT products not only by people with visual, hearing, motor or cognitive disabilities, but also by the elderly, the temporarily disabled - and by those with no disability at all.

"This technical report is part of a series of standards aimed at making IT more usable," said Dr. Yves Neuville, Chair of the subcommittee that is responsible for its development. "We are not solely concerned with ensuring that the elderly and people with disabilities are treated the same as other users. We want all users to be able to use and contribute to IT services more effectively."

The issue of accessibility to products and services has become more critical with the increasing percentage of older people in the population worldwide. While not all older persons have disabilities, the prevalence of disability or limitations is higher amongst this demographic group.

The icons and symbols contained in ISO/IEC TR 19765 have been collected from a variety of sources including other standards, contemporary software products, Web sites and hardware devices. These sources are cross-referenced and listed in the bibliography.

ISO/IEC TR 19765:2007, Information technology – Survey of icons and symbols that provide access to functions and facilities to improve the use of information technology products by the elderly and persons with disabilities, costs 114 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat. The new technical report is the work of Joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, subcommittee SC 35, User Interfaces, working groups WG 2, User interface interaction, and WG 6, User interfaces for disabled and the elderly.

Note: ISO/IEC do not in any way endorse, recommend or dissuade the use of any of the icons or symbols presented in this Technical Report.