‘World Standards Day’ is celebrated internationally each year on October 14, since 1970.
This date was specifically chosen to mark the exact day, in 1946, when delegates from 25 countries first gathered in London to create an international organization focused on facilitating standardisation.
The theme for 2016 is ‘Standards build trust’. Trust in return enhances confidence and brings acceptance.
When all parts of our built environment comply with Standards, the trust it builds enabling the enjoyment of rights - the right to equality in particular - is incalculable in value.
The aims of World Standards day
The main aim is to raise awareness among regulators, consumers and industry as to the importance of standardization to the global economy and also to recognise the utmost importance of Standards in social and economic well-being of people in daily life.
National bodies around the globe - Sri Lanka Standards Institution is our national body - choose various activities to mark this day.
It is also a means of paying tribute to the collaborative efforts of the thousands of experts who develop voluntary standards.
Standards in daily life
From the moment you wake up and throughout the day, standards in some form, although not readily visible, are helping to shape everyone’s day - to make it easier, more comfortable, safer, enabling and more convenient.
They provide protection for the environment, enhance quality of life and bring us economic and social benefits and thereby are imperative in national development.
Standards help to ensure that products and services have the same quality wherever they are made and thereby are acceptable in all countries. They help markets to grow faster and increase global trade. Imagine a world where your credit card would not fit into every cash machine or where prescription for your spectacles would mean the same in Sri Lanka, England or Italy.
If we didn’t have standards, communication between people, machines parts and products would be extremely difficult.
For example, graphic symbols display important information quickly and clearly, no matter what language we speak or read, be they emergency evacuation signs or electrical equipment instructions.
Ultimately, compliance with Standards benefits everyone; manufacturers, consumers, businesses, governments. They create confidence and build trust.
A world without standards
We hardly think about standards - unless their absence causes inconvenience.
Imagine, for example, batteries that will not fit any of your electrical equipment; stores without bar-codes to quantify and price stocks of goods; imagine internet sites without standardized domain names.
A world without standards would soon grind to a halt. Transport and trade would seize up. The Internet would simply not function.
Hundreds of thousands of systems dependent on information and communication technologies would falter or fail, from government and banking to healthcare and air traffic control, emergency services, e-banking, mobile phones, satellite navigation systems for our cars and aircraft and even disaster relief.
A world accessible
Standards ensure built environments and facilities are accessible and safe to use by the optimum number of customers. Hence, it is a prerequisite to increasing the customer base of businesses. At least 650 million people globally are affected by some kind of disability. There are increasing numbers of older people in the world’s population – one quarter of all citizens are 60 or older. Sri Lanka has a fast ageing population with 14% over 65-years of age. Taken with the alarming increase in numerous debilitating conditions and accidents, the issue of accessibility to buildings, facilities, products and services that are used in daily life has become far more important and imperative than ever.
Accessibility solutions complying with Standards are feasible low-cost investments. They also add value to buildings and make facilities and products more appealing to a general audience.
Designing for Inclusion
No one should gamble with the safety and quality of life of other people. Everyone has a right to safety in his life.
Standards are important but what is far more important is to comply with Standards. That is essential to enjoy the right to equality and several other rights.
BUT…… it is an art with Science. It is a highly responsible task involving money, time, effort and human life as well.
It thus requires wide knowledge of the subject inclusion and a thorough understanding of its intricacies.
In the modern world no country can afford to waste resources – human potential in particular on buildings, facilities and services that cannot be used comfortably by the optimum number of people. It’s here the total compliance with Standards becomes paramount leaving no margin for error. Compliance should be the moral duty and social responsibility of everyone.
At a time when Sri Lanka is focusing on sustainable national development, decision-makers must soon make compliance with Standards mandatory by law and not negotiable.
After all, Standards should be for Society rather than in Society.
Dr. Perera firmly believes that Science should be considered a central part of decision-making and NOT an incidental part of national planning. Through personal adversity, he has broken away from the shackles of traditional roles and embarked on a field perhaps no other scientist in this country has thought about.
Perera has received in-depth formal training in England and Malaysia in the development and application of Standards and regulations and furthermore, in the design and performance of audits of compliance. He has thus started interacting with society directly, making significant contributions towards the upliftment of the quality of daily life of people in Sri Lanka and become the iconic accessibility rights activist of the country.