Accessibility standards for HD radios


The International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) announces standards for HD radios that will be accessible to people who are visually and physically handicapped.  The implementation of these standards will allow an untapped group of potential listeners to use HD radio broadcasts.

These universal design standards are the first of their kind for radios and other electronic devices.  "Our committee searched the known consumer electronics industry databases and the world wide web.  We found nothing that has codified what manufacturers need to incorporate to make the radios accessible for people who are visually impaired or blind," said IAAIS HD Taskforce chairperson, David Noble.

In recent years, radios and other electronic devices have deployed increasingly advanced features that prevented senior citizens and people who are visually or physically from using them. 

Because the HD radio systems are new, there are relatively few HD radios in homes.  IAAIS wishes to generate early adoption of the standards by many manufacturers so that many different units will be accessible and simple to use for all radio users.

Once units are accessible, the IAAIS will promote the purchase and use of accessible HD radios to provide reading services for blind or otherwise print-disabled persons.  Manufacturers of radio or other consumer electronic devices must utilize the standards to create products people who are visually and physically handicapped can buy and use independently.  IAAIS will not recommend or endorse any product that fails to meet the newly published standards. 

The IAAIS breaks down radio functions and design into Required, Desirable, and Unacceptable in the categories of Controls, Displays and Feedback, Documentation, Other Considerations, Operation/ Functions, and Infrared Remotes.

The standards call for speech feedback, tactile controls, and larger buttons and at least 18-point print fonts, among other requirements.  Specifically unacceptable functions include touch screens, soft keys, and hard to find recessed buttons. 

Founded in 1977, the IAAIS is a non-profit association of independently operated broadcast entities that provide reading services in more than 100 radio markets throughout the US, Canada and abroad.