2010 World Standards Day Address
By Minister of Commerce, Industry & Consumer Affairs
Senator the Honourable Charlotte E. T. Tessa Mangal
Tuesday 14th October 2010
Each year at this time, we reflect on the important role that standards play in our lives. For World Standards Day 2010, the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, has elected to focus on the opportunities for universal access which have been created through standards, and has adopted the theme, “Standards Make the World Accessible for All.” The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards has embraced this theme since it captures some of the very issues we face daily in Saint Lucia, in respect of access to social, political, economic and technological services for our entire population. Standards help create a level playing field for specific industries or sectors and as such, they advance the concept of equal opportunity for all.
But how do standards make the world accessible to all?
Historically, the British Empire developed its own standards of measurements, the United States of America had their own unique system, and the rest of Europe utilised the French devised metric system. However, increased specialization and trading in goods and services among nations exposed the deficiencies and inequalities that existed among these separate but interchangeable systems. Further, the growing importance of international trade made it practically mandatory that a single and standardized international system of measurement be stated on goods. This therefore, led to the promotion of the universal use of the metric system. The success of metrication particularly in worldwide trading has proven that international standardization has truly made the world more accessible for all.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate how standards increase accessibility for all sectors, industries, groups and individuals. Standards remain the single greatest equalizer, providing the platform for the eradication of inequalities among specific groups and geographical regions. In Saint Lucia, and most developing countries, access is limited by several factors among which, a paramount issue faced, is the lack of critical population mass to test and assure the viability of new inventions. However, we can rest assured that through the platform of standards development, the possibility remains that even small states like Saint Lucia, can use the common language of standards to find our place and impact positively upon the continuously evolving global community.
On this World Standards Day, we place particular emphasis on how standards facilitate access for the disabled among us. The report of a social policy review conducted in 2006 by the World Bank, for the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities, indicated that seven percent (7%) of Saint Lucia’s population is affected by some kind of disability. However, persons with disabilities in Saint Lucia have the same rights as non-disabled individuals to access social, political, economic and technological services; and Saint Lucia has a proud record of facilitating such access. Without the use of standards in the development of technologies that improve and/or encourage access, the participation of a number of disabled persons in daily life activities would be nearly impossible.
Standards have provided manufacturers and service providers with guidelines on how to design products that are accessible for all. For example, the use of the computer; a tool of business, education and social interaction, is no longer limited to the able-bodied. Further, with the advent of the Braille display, voice recognition and speech synthesis tools, International standards have facilitated technological advances to give access to information and communication for the visually impaired. In Saint Lucia, we are now faced with the challenge of equipping business establishments, places of work and recreation, with the tools to allow people with disabilities to provide and also access basic services.
As the Minister for Commerce, Industry, and Consumer Affairs, I pledge to ensure that the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards focuses on the development of standards related to access to social, political, economic and technological services. I am also committed to advocating among my peers in the cabinet, for a legislative agenda, which reflects the need to address in a proactive and progressive manner, the special requirements of the disabled in our society.
As we join with other standards institutes and organizations around the world in the celebration of World Standards Day, I encourage all Saint Lucian business entities, Government establishments, individual employees and citizens to focus on the theme and attempt to make opportunities in Saint Lucia accessible to all. May your consciousness be awakened on World Standards Day and may opportunities open up for all of you as you seek to set, adopt and be guided by world class standards.
Thank you and may God bless you.
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