Understanding International Organization for Standardization 30071-1

Published January 12, 2023

International Organization for Standardization covers a wide range of consumer and organizational issues. These include working conditions, technology, and scientific testing. The scope of ISO also covers issues related to accessibility. One such standard is ISO/IEC 40500:2012, more commonly known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 

Another accessibility standard is ISO 30071-1. Where WCAG focuses more on product and platform testing, 30071-1 goes deeper. It focuses on creating an atmosphere of accessibility within an organization rather than simply complying with a checklist. In this piece, we will explore ISO 30071-1.

What is ISO 30071-1?

According to ISO’s website, 30071-1 offers “...guidance on implementing the accessibility of ICT systems (ICT accessibility) both at organizational and system development levels.”

In other words, ISO 30071-1 prioritizes accessibility at a systemic level. Where WCAG (ISO/IEC 40500:2012) measures a final product, 30071-1 measures its producers.

ISO 30071-1 and Hassell Inclusion

Jonathan Hassell of Hassell Inclusion led the authorship of this standard. Hassell Inclusion is a consulting firm that helps companies and organizations measure and assess their digital accessibility.

Hassell inclusion expands awareness of digital accessibility in the corporate communication space. The company boasts a record of several high-profile clients, such as the BBC.

Accessibility audits are an example of Hassell Inclusion’s services. The company offers standard and real-time audits to appraise how accessible an organization or company is. Benefits of such an audit include quality assurance, better customer experience, and adherence to accessibility laws.

Why did this standard develop?

Jonathan Hassell authored ISO 30071-1 after noticing the inefficiencies of existing accessibility standards. In an event facilitated by Accessibility.com, Hassle stated, “...we've had WCAG for 20 years, and I've been working in accessibility for 20 years, and we've succeeded in getting 2.6% of the home pages that WebAim Million looked at it last year in 2021, accessible. 2.6%.” 

Think about that.

Less than 50,000 home pages out of one million surveyed were adequately accessible in 2021. Given the 20 years that WCAG has been around, it’s far from an exceptional statistic.

Hassle found that much of this stagnation stemmed from ineffective accessibility strategies within organizations. Using his experience with accessibility auditing, he was able to help author the British Standard BS 8878

BS 8878 would eventually evolve and develop into ISO 30071-1.  

What is BS 8878?

BS8878 focuses on placing accessibility in an organization’s framework rather than just technical design or testing elements. It helps organizations understand why it makes good business sense to prioritize accessibility. It also guides the strategy and prioritization of accessibility functions in an organization. 

ISO 30071-1 takes the goals and concepts of BS 8878 and brings them to an international level.

What makes 30071-1 different?

ISO 30071-1 offers tips organizations can follow to normalize and incorporate accessibility into their developmental practices. Some of these steps include:

  • Creating an organizational ICT policy

  • Considering accessibility throughout the entirety of system development processes

  • Upholding accessibility decisions

  • Communicating accessibility decisions to system users and consumers

To quote Hassell again, “What this standard says is, did the team in creating it are they accessible? The organization creating it, are they accessible? Are they going to deliver accessibility going forwards continually? That's what it's about.”

This standard instills the importance of accessibility in an organization's design, development, and deployment stages. In doing so, it helps to ensure the frequency of accessibility in a company’s output. Be it products, software, or even advertisements. 

If a company is appropriately accessible, the same can be said about its products. 

Ways to access and apply 30071-1

Like all ISO standards, 30071-1 costs money to access. Luckily, there is a way to use its standards for free. Hassell Inclusion offers a free scorecard for 30071-1. With this checklist, companies and organizations can get a sense of how to integrate accessibility in a meaningful way. 

Conclusion

Let’s recap:

ISO 30071-1 is an international standard that helps to incorporate accessibility into the values of a company. Rather than a way to reflect on a product's accessibility, this standard makes organizations reflect on themselves and whether they help maintain a culture of accessibility.

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