Today, many people who are visually impaired or have low vision must cobble together different tools just to use everyday items. But this is set to change thanks to a new ISO standard for accessible design that will bring tactile information to the use of everyday products.
ISO 24508:2019, Ergonomics – Accessible design – Guidelines for designing tactile symbols and characters, will make accessible design a part of designers’ best practices by helping them incorporate tactile information at the design stage of a product or environment.
If you’ve had your eyes, or fingers, open, you may have noticed tactile information on toilet doors to denote gents or ladies, on buttons in lifts, on bottles of wine and packaging for breakfast cereals and ready meals. The use of tactile information (such as raised symbols and characters) has become an increasingly important method for supporting accessible design of products, services and environments.
With this in mind, ISO 24508 specifies the physical characteristics of tactile symbols and characters for ease of legibility by touch, taking into account the human abilities of tactile sense and the effects of ageing on touch sensation. It is applicable to products, facilities and equipment in housing, transportation and services, as well as to packaging, where tactile symbols and characters may be used.
“The new standard for tactile information will make products or environments more accessible to users who need to access information using a modality that depends on neither vision nor hearing,” says Susan Harker, Chair of the ISO technical subcommittee that developed the new standard. “It allows these individuals to more seamlessly use their everyday products, which is a major step in helping them connect to the world around them.”
The intended users of this standard are designers, ergonomists and project managers, as well as managers, workers, consumers and procurers. It is expected to benefit people with a wide range of disabilities by removing barriers that prevent them from using or getting the best out of products and environments and, in so doing, contribute to their overall effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.
By Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis