Asian nations to develop universal design standards for eventual worldwide adoption
Nov. 18, 2003 -- Japan, China and South Korea are planning to develop a set of universal design standards for all three nations, with the aim of eventually having the standards adopted worldwide, according to a news report in the English-language edition of The Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo). The three nations are set for talks in the near future; "Japan intends to call for standards on containers and wrappings of household goods," reported the news outlet.
China plans to work to standardize signage for public facilities in time for the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be held in Beijing.
Japan, considered a leader in design, hosted a Universal Design conference in 2002. "Cities are changing but they are not yet people-friendly. Our life is full of products but they are not yet user-friendly," notes the Conference website (online at http://www.ud2002.org/en/index.html). "In Japan, the most rapidly aging country in the world, seniors (those aged 65 or over) now account for about 18% of the population. In 2014 this figure is expected to top 25%. If we add in baby-boomers who are over 50 and are suffering from age-related physical problems such as deteriorating sight and muscle functions, even now this gives a proportion of 39% of the total population."
The Conference went on to explain the thinking behind universal design: "Though . . . seniors and those with various disabilities now have more opportunity to get out and about, urban environments and transportation systems are not yet fully equipped to cope; sometimes they are downright dangerous for elderly and disabled users. Children, pregnant women, and foreigners with different languages and customs face similar hurdles. Inconvenience and the risk of accidents are present all around us in places like kitchens and bathrooms and even in familiar appliances that we use every day. We believe that we should bring an end to designs aimed only at the young and able-bodied. When designing products and services, great care should be taken to avoid disadvantaging or excluding anyone just because of differences in age, gender, race, or ability. Of course, it goes without saying that the products that result from the design process must be safe, user friendly, and beautiful. Universal Design means designing for everyone."
The standards are planned for completion by next fall; the nations may ask the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to adopt the universal design standards; in In 2001, the ISO presented guidelines for member nations to establish standards for elderly friendly products.
Read more from asahi.com
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