The NSI commemorated the 2010 World Standards Day on Monday, 18 October 2010, at the Nampower Convention Centre in Windhoek. This year’s theme of the World Standards Day is ‘Accessibility for All with International Standards.’ The commemoration saw the gathering of people living with and affected by disabilities; as well as stakeholders, artists and dignitaries.
The World Standards Day is commemorated on 14 October every year as tribute to the many experts who volunteer to develop international standards in the technical committees of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Acting Director of Commerce in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Tileinge Andima, read the World Standards Day Message, which was jointly released by the Presidents of ISO and IEC; as well as the Secretary General of the ITU. In the message, emphasis was placed on the fact that at least 650 million people worldwide are affected by some kind of disability. The statement read that ‘accessibility is increasingly becoming an issue as the world population ages and people with disabilities demand equal access to social, political and economic life. For them, as well as for the able-bodied, access to information and communication is as important as is the ability to use an elevator, enter a building, travel, or safely turn on and use a device,’ The Acting Director went on to say that accessibility is not only an issue for the elderly or disabled; as anybody at any stage in life can experience temporarily reduced accessibility.
‘When that happens, simple, everyday activities can become very complicated. International standards give manufacturers and service providers the guidelines on how to design products accessible for all,’ he concluded. The Chairperson of the NSI Board of Directors, Dr. Martha Kandawa-Schulz, urged SME and large businesses to take advantage of the existence of the NSI and to utilise the institution’s services to improve the quality of goods and services for the benefit of all citizens. She emphasised that standards can play a vital role in providing accessibility and ensure that people with disability and the elderly people can also benefit from ease of access to goods and services in pursuit of economic growth and well being. Dr. Kandawa-Schulz went on to say that standards can also help to disseminate technological innovation to developing nations to increase market access for their products, i.e. goods and services, while meeting the generalised aspiration of the people towards social responsibility. A staff member of the NSI, who is also a person with disability, Mirjam Sam, also gave a speech from the perspective of people with disabilities. She outlined the need for more accessible entrances to buildings, especially where public services are delivered. She noted that although some buildings have ramps to allow easy access; such ramps are sometimes too slippery for wheelchair bound people to use without help.