BSI calls on industry to improve communications to the blind

Press release: 12 March 2004

The BSI Group, in partnership with RNIB and COTIS, is undertaking essential developments for the provision of a standard to ensure organizations can effectively deliver customer information to blind and visually impaired people. BSI is now looking for business partners to help create a Publicly Available Specification (PAS).

Three million people in the UK require alternatives to print or visual presentations due to sight problems, dyslexia or a reading disability. Currently many companies are wasting time and money through inaccessible and ineffective communication. Companies, unable to generate the material themselves, rely upon contractors to ensure that information is presented accurately and to a high standard.

No standardized codes of best practice have, as yet, been available in this area. The introduction of a PAS will give organizations the know-how and confidence to ensure all the information is accessible and of the appropriate quality. It will encompass all the relevant factors for every format of alternative communication, from speed, availability, accuracy and layout, to quality of voice recording.

How will the standard benefit the visually impaired?

When the standard is established it will be an essential tool in providing organizations with the knowledge that transcription is being undertaken to best available practice, so they can be confident in the end result, as well as being fluid enough to adapt to future developments. It will ensure that the visually impaired obtain access to all information in a consistent and familiar format.

Wendy Davies, Chair of COTIS, states: “The standard will remove the onus from those in receipt of the information to report any problems, which is an unfair, ineffective and impractical method. It will also provide a recognizable benchmark from which transcription agencies can promote their services.”

Mike Low, the director of BSI British Standards, remarks: “We see this as being of particular importance to utility and financial organisations - or indeed any company with a large consumer customer base.

“The creation of a PAS will allow organizations to make informed choices over the quality and style of information, in whichever format it is provided. As well as ensuring that all customers can access all information, it will also have the added benefit of creating better relations between business and blind people.”

What is a PAS?

A PAS is a standards document that an organization sponsors. It can cover products or processes. Using the full resources and expertise of BSI, a PAS can be delivered in six to nine months and, eventually, it can lead to a full British Standard.

The finished PAS is a professionally produced document, whose sponsors have placed a marker down to inform stakeholders that this is the way things should be done. It also enables an organization to:

  • gain market credibility as the originator of a key industry standard
  • create new and improved ways of working between industry and the consumer
  • assume a position of thought leadership
  • streamline processes throughout the supply chain.

About COTIS (Confederation of Transcribed Information Services)

COTIS is a Registered Charity, No 299024, dedicated to improving the quality of materials produced as alternatives for those who cannot read print. Originally set up as an umbrella group of recording agencies, the current COTIS management team also includes representatives of those using such materials, and promotes quality for all formats, not just audio