Getting in and out

Access versus accessibility

By Philippa Martin-King

Access to a great number of places is, today, largely controlled by machines. Gone are the days when the smiling man was there at the entry point to provide access or to lift the barrier and wave you through. Today you are more likely to be greeted by electronic barriers that demand authorization in the form of smartcards and codes, finger prints or facial recognition before you can enter a site. While many of us take this form of controlled access for granted, others don't find it so easy to use the systems.

Access control has become increasingly sophisticated Access control has become increasingly sophisticated

Controlling and granting access

For security and confidentiality reasons, access to buildings and places is often restricted. There are turnstiles and automatic doors controlled by electronic sensors and video devices that are capable of identifying people and vehicles and that can track authorisation and trace movements. The information they register can be saved in databases for ulterior uses. Access control has become highly sophisticated.

Easing accessibility

On the other hand, a growing number of people find controlled access systems hard to deal with. The average age of the world's population is increasing and the number of people living with a disability, be it moderate or severe, has increased. It is important, when designing and producing electrotechnical products, to cater too for the category of people who find it difficult to see small buttons or cannot distinguish particular colours, those who perhaps need more time to get through a closing door, or can no longer reach plugs or controls that are placed particularly high or low.

IEC/TR (Technical Report) 62678, Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment activities and considerations related to accessibility and usability, is published by IEC TC (Technical Committee) 100: Audio, visual and multimedia systems and equipment.

It marks the result of extraordinary co-operation between, and contributions from, a wide range of experts. Many other IEC TCs also have addressed standards relevant to accessibility in order to provide graphical symbols; marking and identification; electrical accessories; semiconductor devices and sensors and so on.

Access control has become increasingly sophisticated Access control has become increasingly sophisticated
Is it accessible for all Is it accessible for all
Smartcard for controlled access. Smartcard for controlled access.