Are the rings, beeps, honks, and other sounds made by consumer products driving you crazy? Are you confused about which product is making the sound signal, and what it means?

To respond to these issues, ISO has developed a standard providing auditory signal patterns used to convey information to consumers related to a product’s use. Now everyday items such as your personal computer, your camera, or your child’s favorite toy will give out a signal that will be easy to understand, without causing confusion with other sound signals.

The new standard, ISO 24500:2010, Ergonomics – Accessible design – Auditory signals for consumer products, is designed to improve the usability and accessibility of auditory signals used in consumer products, thereby improving their use not only by people with visual or hearing disabilities, but also by the elderly, the temporarily disabled – and by those with no disability at all.

The auditory signal patterns contained in ISO 24500 adopts the principles of accessible design presented in ISO/IEC Guide 71:2001, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities. It will be used in conjunction with its companion standard, ISO 24501, Ergonomics – Accessible design – Sound pressure levels of auditory signals for consumer products, slated for publication in early 2011.

The theme of accessibility is developed through the work of the different ISO technical committees that develop related ISO standards. This work was a prominent feature of the September 2010 issue of ISO Focus+ magazine, and this year’s theme for World Standards Day on 14 October – “Standards make the world accessible for all”.

In addition, an international workshop was held on 3-5 November 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, to examine the standards needed to facilitate access to products, services, environments, and facilities for persons with disabilities. Organized by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), the workshop brought together key stakeholder groups from around the world to discuss this important issue. For more information, see www.iso.org/wsc-accessibility

ISO 24500:2010, Ergonomics – Accessible design – Auditory signals for consumer products, was developed by ISO/TC 159, Ergonomics, subcommittee SC 5, Ergonomics of the physical environment, and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 58 Swiss francs, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).