People gathered round a computer

The Norwegian Association of the Blind: Easier to read text

Everyone should have equal access to electronic text documents. "This is necessary when people with various functional abilities start using different digital platforms," says Rudolph Brynn, Project Manager at Standards Norway. A new Norwegian standard, NS 11021, stipulates requirements relating to accessible formats for electronic documents.

This standard is important in the work being conducted on design for all. Good design should have an attractive appearance and be nice and easy to use. A design must be experienced as being inclusive and available to everyone, including people with impaired functional abilities. The Norwegian Anti-discrimination and Accessibility Act stipulates requirements relating to design for all in the field of ICT.

"In order to make demands the authorities must be able to refer to specific standards. Standardisation is important when there is a gap between a product and the ability of its users to make use of it," says Rudolph Brynn.

NS 11021 is designed to ensure that everyone has equal and easy access to electronic text documents. The target group consists of administrative officers and anyone else involved in designing and publishing documents in electronic format.

Text documents are currently presented on many different platforms and in many different formats. We can read them on PCs, tablets and mobile phones, or listen to a synthetic voice. Digital developments are conditional on one being able to choose the form of presentation. Consequently it is necessary to stipulate requirements relating to correct formats and marking.

NS 11021 stipulates requirements relating to visible formats in respect of headings, contrasts and fonts, as well as lists, columns, and declaration of a main language. One item deals with document formats for publishing and exchanges. This standard makes recommendations on how electronic documents can most readily be made available. At the same time it provides excellent information about how documents can be checked. This standard does not include forms and documents with an interactive or multimedia content.

This standardisation work was initiated in accordance with an agreement with the Norwegian Research Council's IT Project for the Disabled ­(IT Funk). The members of the committee included representatives from the authorities, associations, expert bodies and ICT developers and producers. The broad composition of the committee was important for being able to address all considerations.

Halvor Gaustadnes, Interest Politics Secretary at the Oslo County Department of the Norwegian Association of the Blind, welcomes every single new standard on design for all.

"One of the main aims of the Association of the Blind is to achieve more and better design for all. Standardisation is the key for ensuring a more accessible society. Standards Norway is doing important work by taking the initiative and putting standards in place. I am now hoping that we can include references to these standards in the Norwegian Anti-discrimination and Accessibility Act. This is important in order to ensure maximum incorporation," says Mr. Gaustadnes.

Original text in Norwegian: Siv Ellen Omland, Empower Communication
Picture: Nicolas Tourrenc

Last updated: 2014-11-24